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ACNW Authorizer Update

June 11, 2015

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,
School’s out for summer! When I was a teacher and later a school leader, people often asked me “You get summers off, right?” My answer, of course, was “Well, no. Not really.” While things slow down, summer is always a time to reflect, plan, organize, strategize, learn, and recharge – for teachers, leaders, board members, and even authorizers.
Here at ACNW, while we will certainly squeeze in some time off over the summer, we are working hard on finalizing contracts for many of your schools, getting ready for MDE’s evaluation of our work through MAPES (Minnesota Authorizer Performance Evaluation System), onboarding new staff, and preparing for the coming school year.
I sincerely hope you make time for your family, friends, and yourself this summer, that you reflect on the successes and challenges of your past school year, and work to make the next school year even more successful for the students you serve.
As always, please take some time to carefully review the information provided below. All of us at ACNW appreciate the work you do.

David & 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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ACNW Charter School Division Staffing Updates

We are so pleased to announce the addition of two new members to our team:

Holly Garnell will be joining ACNW on June 15 in the role of Charter School Performance and Accountability Manager. Holly brings an extensive set of skills and experience to our team. Many of you probably know Holly through her work at MDE, Twin Cities Academy, and/or MACS. For the past three years, Holly has worked at the Charter Center at MDE in the roles of State Project Director for the Federal Charter School Program Grant and Charter Center Coordinator. During this time, she developed a deep understanding of the key role authorizers play in the development and ongoing oversight of high quality charter schools. Prior to working at MDE, Holly spent six years as a school counselor at Twin Cities Academy and Twin Cities Academy High School – high performing charter schools in St. Paul. During this time she also was engaged in supporting the University of Minnesota’s Ramp-Up to Readiness program. Holly also worked at the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools where she engaged in regular communications with schools, organized advocacy, conducted research, and developed a “code of ethics” for member schools. Holly’s background in charter schools and accountability, and her deep passion for the power of goal setting, make her a great fit for our team. 

Aaliyah Hodge joined our team on June 8. Aaliyah will be spending a year in our office as part of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) Innovation in Education Fellowship in partnership with the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The fellowship is designed to introduce emerging public policy leaders to charter school authorizing. Aaliyah is a 2nd year graduate student at the Humphrey School and she already brings great skills and experience that will enhance the work of our office while she learns more about authorizing, both in Minnesota and nationally. Aaliyah spent time as a research assistant at the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice and as an Intern in the Minneapolis Ward 6 City Council Office. She is currently a member of the Minneapolis Commission on Civil Rights. Aaliyah will be full time in our office over the summer and part time during the school year as she finishes her master’s degree.

In addition to the above new members, our team continues to count on the great work of our staff, Mike Schultz and Erin Anderson, as well as contracted evaluators Rod Haenke, Dan Jett, and Candida Gonzalez. 

As of June 2, Mike completed his one year anniversary at ACNW. To reflect his exceptional contributions to our team and the scope of his work, his position has a new title of Information and Communications Coordinator.

Liz Wynne, who has been one of our evaluators for the past two years, will be wrapping up her work with ACNW this summer and taking on other opportunities. We are grateful that she has shared her skills and expertise with us and wish her the best on her new endeavors.
ACNW FY16 Fall Leaders Retreat

Please save the date for the FY16 Fall Leaders Retreat. This year we will focus exclusively on leadership and governance, as a specific EE workshop has been created in lieu of an EE track at this year’s retreat (see below).

The dates are Friday, November 13, to Saturday, November 14.

Please keep an eye out for a survey in the next week or two to assist us in planning sessions for the retreat.
ACNW EE Workshop

Based on feedback, suggestions, and input from schools, ACNW is offering a summer environmental education workshop at the Audubon Center in Sandstone in lieu of the EE track at the fall Leaders Retreat. The training will focus on building teacher confidence and capacity as it relates to implementing and measuring your school's EE goals. In addition, we plan to focus on ways to integrate EE in content areas other than science.

Additional information will be forthcoming, but we wanted to provide you the dates and some detail so you can ask teachers to participate.
  • Date: Monday, August 3 (check-in at 11:00 AM) and Tuesday, August 4 (end at 4:00 PM)
  • Where: Audubon Center of the North Woods, Sandstone
  • Who: Teachers in ACNW authorized schools
  • Cost: ACNW expects that each school will send at least one teacher. ACNW will cover the cost (meals and lodging) of up to two teachers. Additional attendees may participate as space allows at $112/person.
  • Pre-registration is required. A registration form can be downloaded from the CSD website.
We are looking forward to a great workshop!
Reading Well by Third Grade Data Submission

Schools’ Reading Well by 3rd Grade data submissions are due July 1, 2015. This year’s submission will take place through a new web-based secured access MDE user account system (MIDMS) to streamline reporting. Complete information and data submission instructions are located here. This data is required of all Minnesota districts and charter schools that enroll students in grades K-2, and reflects required components of the World’s Best Workforce legislation, Minnesota Statutes, section 120B.11.
Below is information repeated from our May Authorizer Update. 

Open Meeting Law
ACNW reviews your board meeting minutes monthly, and have noticed a couple trends recently, particularly related to Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law.
1. Closing Board Meetings.
We have seen evidence that schools have inappropriately closed board meetings. With limited exceptions, the Open Meeting Law says that all meetings of public bodies in Minnesota must be open to the public. The Open Meeting Law also describes when a public body is required or permitted to close a meeting. See this document for guidance on this issue.
2. Meetings by Telephone or Other Interactive Technology
We have seen that schools have inappropriately held meetings by telephone or other interactive technology. School board members may not participate as voting members in meetings via telephone; however, they may participate in meetings via “interactive TV” when among other things: “all members of the body participating in the meeting, wherever their physical location, can hear and see one another and can hear and see all discussion and testimony presented at any location at which at least one member is present.” Other conditions also apply and are outlined in Open Meeting Law.
See this presentation for additional information on the Open Meeting Law.
Upcoming Professional Development and Training Opportunities

4th Annual International Forum on Language Teaching
July 14-17 in Oakdale
The iFLT Conference is a progressive language teaching conference inspired by Dr. Stephen Krashen, which focuses on best-practices in second language teaching methodologies. Attendees will observe live language classes and attend training sessions led by nationally recognized teacher-trainers who are experts in Teaching with Comprehensible Input (TCI). Participants will learn a variety of innovative techniques proven to help students develop measurable fluency and then will see those strategies in action with real students.  Participants will observe, experience and practice progressive, cutting-edge TCI-based approaches that align with National Standards, meet and exceed ACTFL's 90% use of Target Language and result in unprecedented levels of proficiency. For more information visit:
Third Annual Minnesota Charter School Conference
July 28 in Minneapolis
The Third Annual Minnesota Charter School Conference is a unique opportunity to learn from charter school experts and each other, share successes and challenges, and build stronger relationships. The goal: create a more informed, organized, and connected charter school community for Minnesota. The conference is presented by CliftonLarsonAllen, in partnership with Center for School Change and the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools. Mike Feinberg, co-founder of Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), will be the keynote speaker. For more information, please visit this website.  The conference will include sessions directly related to board governance. Attendance by board members would help ensure training to meet statutory requirements and effective board governance at your school.
Positive Classroom Climate
Elementary: August 3-4; Secondary: August 6-7 – both in Saint Paul
For schools that want their teachers to learn successful strategies for developing positive classroom climate and for improving student behavior, there is a two day session that will equip teachers with the knowledge and skills from Chris Hagedorn, who has trained thousands of teachers in Responsive Classroom techniques. This would be ideal for schools that use the Responsive Classroom type approaches but have new teachers that need foundational training.  Visit or contact for more information.
Project Based Learning
August 5 – August 6 in Saint Paul
For schools that do any sort of project based learning, there is the opportunity to learn practical strategies for making PBL more rigorous and impactful from proven practices from High Tech High in San Diego. Chris Wakefield from High Tech High will lead a two day intensive training session to "Go Deeper with Project Based Learning."  Visit or contact for more information.
11 Principles Training: Transform School Climate and Culture
August 11 (at AFSA High School in Vadnais Heights); August 12 (Fergus Falls); August 13 (North Mankato)
The 11 Principles is a framework for improving school climate and culture through a schoolwide emphasis on character education. The framework is a tool for planning and assessment, complementary to other school climate improvement efforts (e.g. – PBIS, Responsive Classroom, social-emotional learning, restorative practices). For more information go to  or contact
Grant Opportunities
A small sampling of the many possibilities that are out there.

Participatory Action Research  – MN Campus Compact and Youthprise
Applications accepted between June 1, 2015 and October 1, 2015
Minnesota Campus Compact and Youthprise are offering a new pilot program to provide professional development and funding to high school youth, college/university students and community-engaged staff/faculty to conduct participatory action research (PAR) projects related to educational environments, community engagement, and preparation for college, careers, and civic life. Youthprise will provide a 1:1 match for funds raised by campuses to support PAR projects. Up to $10,000 will be matched per campus. The program will also send interested high school and college/university students, faculty, and staff to either a pre-conference workshop at the Upper Midwest Civic Engagement Summit or one of three regional workshops in the fall of 2015 to learn more about PAR. Teams of students with staff/educators from campuses, schools, and youth-serving organizations can apply to Youthprise between June 1, 2015 and October 1, 2015 for matching grants and support to implement PAR projects.

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.
World’s Best Workforce Mini Grant  – Library Services and Technology Act
Applications due October 2, 2015
State Library Services is pleased to announce the federal 2015 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) Mini Grant opportunity. An estimated $75,000 is available in federal funding from CFDA 45.310, Award LS 00-15-0024-15,to fund up to 12 grant projects ranging from $1,000-$10,000. Projects will address Goal 1.2 of Minnesota’s Five Year Plan for LSTA and the World’s Best Workforce by improving library-based learning opportunities for children and young adults. Applications are welcome that directly serve at-risk children and youth (between the ages of 0-25) through improved or expanded library-based programs, services and/or learning activities.

Eligible applicants are public libraries and library cooperatives or consortiums that are authorized by Minnesota statutes 134.001, libraries located in Minnesota’s public schools or public colleges/universities, and special libraries operated by registered 501(c)(3) organizations. To strengthen the capacity of libraries as part of community-wide efforts, this grant initiative requires one or more project partners. Your application must list your partner(s) and include a completed Project Partnership Agreement Form for each partner. The term of the grant period is anticipated to be from December 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016. Applications must be received by (not postmarked by) October 2, 2015, 3:30 p.m., Central Time. The application is available on the Minnesota Department of Education's Grants Management site
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

Harvest Preparatory School recently received $100,000 from the United Way/Target Spotlight Schools Initiative, an effort by Twin Cities United Way and Target to fund a year-long project aimed at accelerating the pace of successful student achievement in an effort to close the region's numerous opportunity gaps between low-income students of color and white students. More than 40 Minneapolis and St. Paul schools submitted grant proposals, but only 10 were selected in the highly competitive process.
Crosslake Community School opened its doors to high school students for the first time this past fall, starting an online curriculum for students in grades 9-12, and this spring the school graduated its first student ever– Makayla Conrad-Kassa. Read more about Makayla’s journey here.

Coincidentally, La Crescent Montessori and STEM School also graduated its first student ever this spring – Taylor Wagner. To learn more about Taylor’s story, visit this article.
Learning Opportunities at the Audubon Center

Visit the main Audubon Center of the North Woods website to find out more about the learning opportunities, family events, and summer camps being offered by the Center this year.
Flowers are starting to bloom at the Audubon Center, including these tranquil trilliums.
We ran into this turtle on the lakeside trail. (I wonder if he keeps nunchuku in his shell...)
Copyright © 2015 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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