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ACNW Authorizer Update

April 1, 2015

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,
 
While ACNW believes that every day is Earth Day, official Earth Day is three weeks away – Wednesday, April 22! Earth Day provides an opportunity for individuals and communities to take action to restore and protect the natural environment. For more information on Earth Day celebrations around the world, the history of the movement, and resources for you and your school, please visit the Earth Day Network website.
 
Ultimately, if we don’t take steps to live in greater balance with the natural world, we may not have the opportunity to celebrate Earth Day in the future, or any days on Earth for that matter. (And that’s no joke.)
 
Anyways, please take time to review this Authorizer Update closely, and let us know if you have any questions or comments about its contents. 

Sincerely,

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 Staffing Update

ACNW is hiring a Performance & Accountability Manager to support our work of school evaluation and oversight. For more information please click on this link.
Site and Grade Level Expansions

If your school is planning a site expansion or grade level expansion (including prekindergarten/preschool) for fall 2016, you must submit a board approved Notice of Intent (NOI) to submit an application for grade level and/or site expansion to ACNW by June 1. Please note that while Epicenter indicated a deadline of March 15, this was an error, and the deadline is actually June 1. The NOI, along with other resources regarding expansions, can be found on our website.
MDE Finance Award

MDE recently released information on the recipients of the 2015 MDE Finance Award. Overall, 83% of charter schools earned the award compared to 64% of traditional districts, and 94% of schools authorized by ACNW earned the award! Congratulations to all schools who met the criteria for timely and accurate financial reporting to MDE! For complete information and a list of schools and districts that earned the award click here. Next year we are shooting for 100%!
Epicenter

Thank you for your diligence in completing timely and accurate Epicenter submissions. Over the past months, schools’ overall performance in Epicenter has improved notably. Timely and accurate submissions help us complete our oversight activities and demonstrate that your school has effective systems in place to meet compliance requirements.

Currently we have a total of only 12 submissions past due for 32 schools, the lowest number of the year. In addition, the overall on time rate for the year thus far is 79%, and the accuracy rate is 96%. Fifty percent of schools have an on time rate of over 90%. We’d like to highlight the following schools that have an on time rate of over 95%:
  • AFSA High School
  • Cannon River STEM School
  • Crosslake Community School
  • Discovery Public School
  • East Range Academy of Technology and Science
  • Noble Academy
  • Northern Lights Community School
  • Voyageurs Expeditionary School
  • World Learner School
And a special shout out to North Lakes Academy for its on time rate of 100%!

We will be sending out a survey this spring to learn more about your thoughts on Epicenter, including how Epicenter can be used to meet your schools’ needs in addition to the needs of ACNW.
FY15 Environmental Education Survey

We are currently in the process of updating the EE survey for 2014-15. An Epicenter compliance task related to the EE survey was originally set up last summer. However, that task contained outdated information, and has since been removed from Epicenter. When the survey is fully updated, we will repost the compliance submission with the new FY15 EE survey. Let us know if you have any other questions.
English Learners

Many schools authorized by ACNW have students who qualify for an English Learner program and are identified as English Learners, while some schools do not have students in such a program. It is a requirement for all schools to be prepared to serve English Learners and to have systems in place to identify these students. The first step in the identification process is the Home Language Questionnaire. Per MDE and federal guidelines, a home language questionnaire (HLQ) must be completed for all students who enroll in a district. A student’s presumed proficiency in English should not determine whether or not an HLQ is completed.  Districts and charter schools must determine the primary home language of all students.
 
ACNW will be asking all schools about the HLQ and related English Learner programs and services at your schools.  
 
For more information, please contact the MDE English Learner Education Program at mde.el@state.mn.us or visit the MDE English Learner Programs website.
Scam Alert!: WebsiteBackup Company

Be on the lookout for false invoices from WebsiteBackup Company. Organizations across the country, including at least one school authorized by ACNW, have received false invoices in the amount of $70.00 for a website backup service plan. Schools that receive the invoice are urged to contact the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 382-4357 or www.ftc.gov and the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org, as well as the Minnesota Attorney General at www.ag.state.mn.us and your local postal inspections office.
Upcoming Trainings

MACS Spring 2015 Board Leadership Trainings

The course catalog for MACS Spring 2015 Board Training Courses is now available. You can view the catalog by clicking on this link. Courses are available in three series: Governance, Finance, and Personnel. To register, visit the MACS Board Governance Page.

ISES Board Member Training
April 16 or May 21: 1:00 - 3:30 p.m. or 6:00 - 8:30 p.m. each day
 
This training presented by Innovative Special Education Services (ISES) is for charter school board members and will provide participants with an in-depth knowledge of what every charter school board member needs to know about special education. Topics include: laws governing students with disabilities, enrollment of students with disabilities, staffing/service providers, discipline of students with disabilities, and special education funding. This training is free to all charter school board members.

To view the agenda or register online, visit the ISES training website.
EE Mission Match Funds

During the 2014-2015 school year, ACNW will be offering up to $500.00 to each authorized school to help achieve your school’s 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.
  3. 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.
Grant Opportunities
A small sampling of the many possibilities that are out there.

Grants for Grassroots Environmental Campaigns – Patagonia
Applications due Thursday, April 30, 2015.
 
Patagonia, an outdoor clothing and gear company, is accepting proposals of up to $12,000 to support small, grassroots, activist organizations with provocative direct-action agendas, working on multi-pronged campaigns to preserve and protect our environment. The company is seeking innovative groups that produce measurable results. The proposed campaign(s) should be quantifiable, with specific goals, objectives and action plans, and should include measures for evaluating success.
 
For more information, visit the Patagonia Grant Guidelines website

Grants for School Breakfast Programs – Action for Healthy Kids
Applications due Friday, May 1, 2015.
 
Action for Healthy Kids combats childhood obesity, undernourishment, and physical inactivity by helping schools become healthier places so kids can live healthier lives. The organization partners with dedicated teachers, students, moms, dads, school wellness experts; and others from its nationwide network of over eighty thousand volunteers to create healthful school changes. To that end, the organization has issued a Request for Proposals for its 2015-16 Breakfast for Healthy Kids program. The program will award grants of up to $2,500 to a thousand schools to support school breakfast and physical activity programs.
 
For complete program guidelines and application instructions, visit the Action for Healthy Kids website.
 
Grants for Meteorological Education Projects  â€“ National Weather Association
Applications due Monday, June 1, 2015.
 
The National Weather Association is accepting grant applications to its 2015-16 Sol Hirsch Education Fund, which supports projects designed to improve K-12 education in meteorology and related sciences. The program will award grants of up to $750 to help teachers purchase scientific materials for the classroom, school, or community; create school or community science outreach and education programs; enhance or expand existing meteorology/science education programs; and/or attend accredited courses, workshops, or conferences related to meteorology that will significantly enhance their teaching. Priority will be given to projects that show the most creativity and have the potential for greatest impact.
 
See the National Weather Association website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.
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 students will be representing the State of Minnesota in the upcoming National AgriScience Fair at the National FFA Convention. Eleven projects (seven by individual students and four by pairs) won purple ribbons (the highest award possible) at the Minnesota State AgriScience Fair, earning a spot to compete at the national level. Minnesota can only enter 24 projects to compete at the National AgriScience Fair, meaning that AFSA students qualified for nearly half of those spots!
 
Twelve North Lakes Academy students qualified to compete at the State History Day competition at the University of Minnesota on May 2, 2015. Students will be competing in several categories, including Individual Exhibits, Individual Performances, Individual & Group Documentaries, and Individual Websites. Topics represented by NLA students range from Annie Oakley and J. Robert Oppenheimer to Mikhail Gorbachev and Marcus Garvey. One student will be representing the school in the Senior Research Paper competition for his essay on the Jonestown Massacre of 1978. 
Learning Opportunities at the Audubon Center

Visit the main Audubon Center of the North Woods website to find out more about the learning opportunities being offered by the Center this year.
When Woody the Eagle is bored out of his gourd, he entertains himself with, well, a gourd.
Students from Swan River Montessori Charter School recently visited the Audubon Center and crafted several snow sculptures, including a swan (pictured) and Maria Montessori (not pictured).
Copyright © 2015 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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