ACNW Authorizer Update — January 2017
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Authorizer Update
January 19, 2017

Dear School Leaders and Stakeholders,
Happy New Year from all of us here at ACNW! We wish you and your schools much success in 2017.
This new year is likely to bring some change in the world of education, including ESSA, a new president and a new secretary of education. I would argue that these changes at the federal level can be impactful, but a little far from our day-to day-work. Changes in federal policy might not affect the work we do for a while, so it is that much more important in these times of change that we stay clear on our missions and keep students and families at the center of our work. As the confirmation hearings move forward on potential new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, we hear worn misconceptions about charter schools. We hear that charter schools take money from the “public schools,” that they pick and choose their students, and that they are a way to create private schools for people of means. We know these assertions are fundamentally false, and we need to speak up to ensure the stories and realities of your schools and students are heard while we do the work of implementing each of our organization’s missions to benefit students.

Thank you for all that you do,

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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In this Authorizer Update:
(Click a heading to go to that section. May not function on mobile version.)
2016 ACNW annual report released 

Minnesota Statutes 124E.16 Subd. 2(b) requires authorizers to complete an annual report and submit it to the commissioner of education. Our third annual report was submitted to MDE on January 17, 2017. The report is for FY16 and includes general information on our organization and authorizing activities for the year, portfolio-wide performance data, and school-specific performance information. ACNW’s FY16 authorizer annual report, as well as previous annual reports, can be found on our website.

Title compliance and monitoring tools available

ACNW encourages schools that receive funding and implement activities related to Title I-A and Title II-A to review MDE’s Compliance Guide and Monitoring Tool, which is available on MDE’s website. MDE periodically reviews schools for Title compliance, and taking time to look over compliance systems and processes now will help to make that process go as smoothly as possible if your school is selected.

New Epicenter features rolled out 

The new year has brought a new holiday release for Epicenter. We would like to highlight one of the new features: the ability to control when you receive task notifications and reminders. This allows you to enable or disable the weekly email with a summary of upcoming tasks, decide if you want notifications for new tasks, and decide when you want to receive new task notifications.

To customize your notification settings, log in to Epicenter and select My Profile in the left-hand navigation pane on the home menu. In the Contact Information section, click on the Update button. Scroll to the bottom to view and adjust the Task Notification Settings. From here, you can enable or disable the weekly email containing the summary of upcoming tasks. You can also decide if you want notifications for new tasks, and if so, when you receive them.
If you need assistance with this new feature or have questions or feedback about any aspect of Epicenter, please contact Mike. A webinar and release notes for general users and Epicenter administrators can be found on this website.
Check out these sample school credit card policies

Many schools use credit cards, as they are often the easiest way to make purchases. But their used can be problematic if clear policies and oversight are not in place. You may have seen the recent article in the Star Tribune about what can happen when policies and practices are not in place and implemented. ACNW expects all schools to have a credit card policy to help ensure that issues like this do not arise. Here are some sample policies for reference. Additionally, boards should get detailed credit card reports as part of the monthly financial packet.  

Professional Development and Learning Opportunities More training opportunities and events can be found on our website.

MDE Data Center Webinars

Learn more about the reports and information available through MDE’s Data Center! The department is doing a series of webinars to discuss various parts of this resource. Each session will be presented twice—the sessions do not build on one another, so feel free to participate specifically in those that you feel would be helpful to your work.

Data Reports and Analytics: This webinar will be an overview of Data Reports and Analytics and the reports found with the Accountability and Assessment, MCC, Staffing, and Student Data categories. Register for Monday, January 23, 1-2 p.m. OR Register for Tuesday, January 24, 8-9 a.m.

ECLDS/SLEDS: This webinar will cover the Early Childhood Longitudinal Data System (ECLDS) and the Statewide Longitudinal Educational Data System (SLEDS). Register for Wednesday, February 15, 1-2 p.m. OR Register for Thursday, February 16, 8-9 a.m.

MACS Winter Board Training
The Minnesota Association of Charter Schools (MACS) has posted its winter 2017 board training schedule. Topics covered include Charter School Finance, Governance, and Employment. We encourage you to check out the schedule of classes here

MDE Webinar Archive
MDE retains an archive of recordings for specific webinars, which can be found at this link. Once you get there, click the Recorded Sessions link on the left-hand menu. Most recordings are from MDE Food and Nutrition, so feel free to utilize the webinars if you or a member of your staff need a refresher on a specific topic, or if you have a new employee that needs to learn the ins and outs of school nutrition programs and requirements.

Grant Opportunities
A small sampling of the many possibilities that are out there.

Apply for the 2017 MACS Innovation Award
Applications accepted through February 3, 2017
The Minnesota Association of Charter Schools (MACS) is looking for schools with innovative programs addressing the five different statutory purposes of charter schools. One school will be recognized in each category and will receive a monetary award. To be considered, fill out the application by February 3, 2017 and send it to Adan Gutierrez. Visit the MACS website for more information, or contact Stephanie Kimble with your questions. 

Fender Music Foundation Instrument Grants
The Fender Music Foundation awards instruments and equipment to music programs, including in-school music classes. The organization is currently distributing lightly used or blemished acoustic guitars, electric guitars, acoustic-electric guitars, bass guitars and related equipment. Other musical instruments, including woodwind instruments, brass instruments and keyboards sometimes become available. For full eligibility information and instructions on submitting a proposal, visit the Foundation’s website. Grant proposals are reviewed throughout the year.  

Voya Foundation STEM and Financial Literacy Grants
The Voya Foundation seeks to ensure that youth have the STEM expertise necessary to compete in the 21st century workforce and the financial literacy skills to make smart decisions that lead to a secure retirement. Through its grant program, it funds a range of activities including strategic partnerships aligned with K-8 STEM education and K-12 STEM teacher training, and grade 9-12 financial literacy with a focus on life’s financial milestones. For more information, visit their website and review their grant guidelines. Grant proposals are reviewed throughout the year.  
Teaching Tolerance Spring Webinar Series
Teaching Tolerance’s spring semester webinar lineup is here! The schedule includes the four-part Equity Matters series, which includes discussions about empathy, family engagement, implicit bias and equity literacy. They will also continue the conversation they started in the fall about the Black Lives Matter movement with a webinar on the movement’s education platform and information about how to bring the topic into the classroom.

Let’s Talk! Teaching Black Lives Matter
Tuesday, January 31, 2017—3:30pm (45min)
Equity Matters: Confronting Implicit Bias
Tuesday, February 21, 2017—3:30pm (45min)
Equity Matters: Understanding Equity Literacy
Tuesday, February 28, 2017—3:30pm (45min)

TED Talk: How students of color confront imposter syndrome
“As a black woman from a tough part of the Bronx who grew up to attain all the markers of academic prestige, Dena Simmons knows that for students of color, success in school sometimes comes at the cost of living authentically. Now an educator herself, Simmons discusses how we might create a classroom that makes all students feel proud of who they are. 'Every child deserves an education that guarantees the safety to learn in the comfort of one's own skin,' she says.” Read more and watch the TED Talk here.
Please continue to reach out to your colleagues for resources, learning and sharing. 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.

An American Kestrel surveys the scene at the Audubon Center in Sandstone.
Copyright © 2017 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.

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