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ACNW Authorizer Update

August 11, 2015

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,

It’s hard to believe – the start of the school year is only weeks away. (And for a few of you, your school year has already started!) Where has the summer gone?! We know things may be getting a little more frantic as the start of school approaches, but please take time to review this Authorizer Update closely, and as always, let us know if you have any questions or comments about its contents.
 
As we move into the beginning of another school year, we want to take this opportunity to remind you of our authorizing mission and vision:
 
Authorizing Mission
To provide superior oversight, evaluation, feedback and strategic support to ACNW’s authorized schools resulting in the increased academic, financial, operational and environmental education performance of each school.
 
Authorizing Vision
To authorize a portfolio of high performing charter schools that instill a connection and commitment to the environment in their school communities, while working towards a healthy planet where all people live in balance with the Earth.
 
The mission and vision align to ACNW’s overall organizational mission and vision, and we believe that they align to the missions and visions of each of the schools we authorize.
 
Our authorizing mission and vision drive the work we do every day: school evaluations, feedback, compliance reviews, the Leaders Retreat, this Authorizer Update, and our strategic plan are all geared towards achieving our mission and vision, helping to create an environment in which all students reach their full potential – academically, personally, and as stewards of our environment.
 
Finally, we are attempting to reach all board members of all charters schools authorized by ACNW with this newsletter. Please forward to your colleagues and ask them to subscribe if they are not receiving our updates.
 
Sincerely,

David Greenberg & the ACNW Charter School Team
ACNW Charter School Division
43 Main Street SE, Suite 507
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414
(612) 331-4181

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Upcoming Dates

See below for additional information about each of these events.
  • ACNW Leaders Retreat
  • November 13 & 14
     
  • Reauthorization Webinar
  • Tuesday, August 18 at 10:00 AM
    Monday, August 31 at 4:00 PM
     
  • Annual Report Webinar
  • Tuesday, August 18 at 3:00 PM
    Thursday, August 27 at 10:00 AM
     
  • New Schools Webinar
  • Tuesday, August 25 at 10:00 AM
ACNW FY16 Leaders Retreat

Please save the date for the FY16 Leaders Retreat. This year we will focus exclusively on leadership and governance. (In lieu of an EE track at this year’s retreat, ACNW hosted an EE-focused teacher workshop in early August.)
 
The dates of the Leaders Retreat are Friday, November 13 to Saturday, November 14 at the Audubon Center of the North Woods in Sandstone.
 
Thank you for your input on the topics you would like to see covered this year. Your feedback will be used to help us craft sessions that will best meet your interests and needs. We plan to have registration and session information to you no later than October 1.
Epicenter Survey

As part of our commitment to improvement and increased efficiency, we are in the process of making updates to Epicenter for FY16. As such, we developed a survey in order to better understand your school’s needs and desires in relation to Epicenter. Please take a moment to complete the survey by Friday, August 21. Your response will help us determine how to best implement Epicenter's features with your school this year, including your school's list of compliance requirements.
ACNW EE Teacher Workshop

The first ACNW EE Teacher Workshop was a great success: 48 attendees from 31 schools were fully engaged in experiential activities, workshops focused on integrating EE across the curriculum, and networking with one another. This reflection from one participant summed it up:

This EE workshop is by far my favorite to attend. I love that it is designed for teachers, the individuals who are trusted to carry out school goals and deliver that actual lessons to achieve student success. I also love how much time is spent outdoors and I enjoy learning more about EE, and how we can best serve our students. I found networking with other teachers and charter schools with similar goals to be very helpful; we can learn so much from each other through simple conversation that branches out to ideas and great ways to get creative and excited about teaching EE. I am always reminded of how easy it is to implement with almost any subject area and unit.
 
Thanks again to participants, and please engage with those who attended to leverage the learning experience for your entire staff.
Financial Reporting

Student Enrollment
Student enrollment is the most important driver of funding for all public schools, so it is critical that the school board and leadership effectively budget and monitor student enrollment levels.

It is also critical to understand that funding is not based on the number of students or ADM (Average Daily Membership) but on Pupil Units (PU) – the weighted value of each student.

Students general funding at the following rates:
  • K-6 students = 1.0 PU
  • 7-12 students = 1.2 PU
If your school’s annual budget and monthly financial reports include enrollment only in terms of ADM and not in terms of Pupil Units, you may not have accurate information that could impact your bottom line. This is particularly critical for schools that have students in both groups (K-6 and 7-12).

ACNW expects that enrollment for financial reports and budgets will include both ADM and PU.

Reporting by Program Level
For schools that entered into new contracts effective July 1, 2014 or July 1, 2015, ACNW requires the school to furnish ACNW, on at least a quarterly basis (for quarters ending 9/30, 12/31, 3/31, and 6/30), with a balance sheet and income and expense statement presented in a format specified by ACNW (which can be downloaded from the CSD website) or in a similar fashion that is approved by ACNW. This format is consistent with UFARS reporting and ensures clear reporting of restricted funds while identifying administrative and educational program expenses.
Board of Teaching Special Permission Requests

Schools that request waivers from the Board of Teaching (Non-Licensed Community Experts, Innovative Program Waivers, and Discretionary Variance Requests) will notice that the form no longer requires the authorizer’s signature, but does require that the school notify the authorizer of the request.

To notify ACNW of any requests of this nature, please do so via Epicenter.
  1. Log into Epicenter. From the home page, select Document Center in the upper right corner.
  2. Select the Upload Submission button from the lower left corner of the screen.
  3. For Entity Type, select School.
  4. For Submission Type, select Special Permissions for Classroom Teaching, which can be found in the MDE Filings section. 
  5. Use the Add Files button to attach the completed Special Permission Request Notification, which is attached to the task as a submission resource.
  6. Once the files are attached, select Submit.
For more information on these special permission requests, see: http://mn.gov/board-of-teaching/beaneducator/permissions/.
Professional Development and Training Opportunities

Check out ACNW’s Charter School Division website for upcoming opportunities.
Grant Opportunities
A small sampling of the many possibilities that are out there.

Field Trip Grants  – Target Corporation
Applications accepted between August 1, 2015 and September 30, 2015
 
It’s become increasingly difficult for schools to fund learning opportunities outside the classroom. To help them out, Target launched the Field Trip Grants program in 2007. As part of the program, Target stores award Field Trip Grants to K-12 schools nationwide. Each grant is valued up to $700. Target accepts grant applications between noon CST Aug. 1 and noon CST Sept. 30. For more information, visit the Target field trip grant website.
 
Ann Bancroft Foundation Invites Applications From Minnesota Girls
Applications due October 1
 
Grants of up to $500 are awarded to girls between the ages of 5 and 18 to help them realize a dream or fulfill their potential. Grants are given through two programs: Dare to Dream Grants (ages 10 through high school), which fund art, cultural, leadership, educational & outdoor/wilderness experiences; and Let Me Play Grants (ages 5 through high school graduation) which fund sport, athletic & dance equipment or participation fees. These grants are awarded directly to girls and not to schools or programs. For more information, visit the Ann Bancroft Foundation grant website.

Project Learning Tree Seeks Applications for Environmental Education Projects
Applications due September 30
 
Project Learning Tree is accepting applications from schools and nonprofit organizations for environmental service-learning projects through its GreenWorks! grants program. Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to support environmental service-learning projects that demonstrate service learning, exemplify the collective voice of the student body, and involve at least one community partner. To be eligible, projects must secure at least 50 percent in matching funds (in-kind is acceptable). (Your school’s EE Mission Match Funds can be used for this purpose.)
 
EE Mission Match Funds
ACNW is offering up to $500.00 to each authorized school to help achieve your environmental education goals. Funds may be used to buy equipment, provide a match for an EE-related grant, hire a presenter, or pay for a field trip to the Audubon Center or any other EE-based location of your choice.
 
To apply for these funds:
  1. Download the application from the CSD website. Your project must be pre-approved before you can receive funding.
  2. Complete the application and return to Erin.
Once approved, funds will be released to your school only AFTER an invoice or other proof of payment is received. Our Business Manager is diligent in sending out funds within 5-10 business days. Proof of fund use is a requirement of the Audubon Center audit and funds will not be released without this.
Networking and Sharing

Please continue to reach out to your colleagues for resources, learning, and sharing. We hope you will continue to grow and leverage the connections you made at the Leaders Retreat and elsewhere. The following link provides contact information for directors and board chairs of all schools authorized by ACNW: ACNW Directors and Board Chairs
 
Please contact Mike if you have updated contact information or need help using the document.
School Highlights

AFSA High School
The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) is the newest sponsor of the Academy for Sciences & Agriculture (AFSA) High School. MCGA is funding two college scholarships for students who will graduate from AFSA High School in spring 2016. 
 
Noble Academy
Noble Academy will celebrate the grand opening of its new school building on Monday, August 31 with a program, tours, and refreshments beginning at 9:00 AM. If you can’t make it to the ceremony, the school will host an open house from 10:30-7:00.
Learning Opportunities at the Audubon Center

Visit the Audubon Center of the North Woods website to find out more about the learning opportunities, family programs, and other events offered by the Center this fall.
If you have extra zucchini or kale in your garden this summer, Spike would appreciate the donation.
The tree frogs are out in volume! This species can change color from green to grey to brown to help them camouflage better. This little guy was found on a milkweed plant in our prairie!
Copyright © 2015 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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