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ACNW Authorizer Update

March 4, 2015

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,
 
The first day of spring is only three weeks away, although if yesterday’s snow is any indication, winter’s not going out without a fight! Inevitably though, white expanses will give way to rejuvenated fields of green. We hope this spring also proves to be a time of rejuvenation for both you and your school!
 
As always, 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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Academic and Financial Evaluations
 
We had planned to complete the annual academic and financial evaluations for all ACNW authorized school by this time. If you have not yet received your school's academic and financial evaluations, we apologize for the delay, and your school can expect to receive these reports within the next two weeks.
Site and Grade Level Expansions

The Notice of Intent to submit an application for grade level and/or site expansion is due by 5:00 p.m. on June 1. The Notice of Intent, along with other resources regarding expansions, can be found on our website.
Credit Card Policy

As part of our financial reviews over the past year, we have inquired about the use of credit cards at your schools and whether you have policies and practices in place to ensure appropriate use. Recent articles in the Star Tribune highlight this issue, one about Minneapolis Public Schools, the other about St. Paul Public Schools. If you do not have a credit card policy in place, you are strongly encouraged to develop and implement such a policy. 
Anti-Bullying Policy

The Safe and Supportive Schools Act, signed into law in April 2014, requires that each school district and charter school submit its bullying prohibition policy to the commissioner of education. We recently received information from MDE that many ACNW authorized schools have not submitted their school’s policy to the department. If your school has not done so already, please submit your school’s policy to MDE.SSTAC@state.mn.us (and please “cc” admin@auduboncharterschools.org).
 
For more information on the Safe and Supportive Schools Act, including guidance from MDE regarding school policy, visit MDE’s bullying prevention website.
Early Enrollment into Kindergarten Policy

If your school admits children younger than five years old to kindergarten, your school must adopt a policy on early admission and post it to the school website. Legislation enacted in 2014 requires that policies for early admission to kindergarten be based on a comprehensive evaluation to determine the child’s ability to meet kindergarten expectations and progress to first grade in the subsequent year. If your school serves kindergarteners but does not admit children younger than five years old, it would be prudent to state as such on your school’s website. MDE’s website offers comprehensive information on kindergarten programming, including guidance on comprehensive evaluation assessment instruments.
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 to the MDE English Learner Programs website.
NCAN 2015 Spring Training: Leading for Equity

Achieving equity in students’ postsecondary outcomes requires deliberate and regular exploration of race and class issues that can be difficult to discuss and address. To further these conversations, National College Access Network’s (NCAN) three regional Spring Training events will be a forum for equity questions relevant to college access and success advisors, program managers, directors, higher education professionals, and collective impact networks. The National Equity Project (NEP) will facilitate each event using a highly interactive format designed to help each participant reflect on his/her context and professional role.

NCAN Spring Trainings
Other Upcoming Trainings

MDE Charter Lease Aid Training
Monday, March 23: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m

The workshop will cover the FY2016 Lease Aid Application process as well as information regarding ADM/LEP Enrollment projections and their role with the Lease Aid Application process. To register, visit the MDE training website.

ISES Board Member Training
March 26, 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.
2015 MN Promising Practices Award Application Open

Application due Friday, March 13, 2015.

Promising Practices awards celebrate unique ways for students to learn empathy, conflict resolution skills, positive relationship building, good citizenship and other character traits and skills. Synergy & Leadership Exchange sponsors the awards to spotlight innovative best practices that are having a positive effect in schools and encourage others to learn from or replicate. To apply for a 2015 Promising Practices Award, complete a short application by March 13.
 
AFSA High School in Vadnais Heights received both state and national Promising Practices Awards in 2014 for its “Farm and Community Service Day.”
 
If you wish to be considered for a national Promising Practices award, visit character.org. For more information on the Minnesota award, visit the Synergy 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.

Native Youth and Culture Fund – First Nations Development Institute
Initial proposals due Thursday, March 12, 2015.
 
The First Nations Development Institute has recently announced a request for proposals for its Native Youth and Culture Fund, seeking proposals of up to $20,000 that focus on youth, and incorporate culture and tradition to address social issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, mental health or other social issues. Initial proposals are due by March 12, with full proposals from invited applicants due May 25.
 
For more information, visit the Native Youth and Culture Fund website.
 
Education Grants – Open Your Heart
Proposals due Wednesday, April 1, 2015.
 
Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless (OYH) offers education grants of up to $7,500 to support the educational needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness. In particular, this program seeks to remove barriers for homeless youth to participate in school and to improve student academic success. In addition to the traditional emphasis on school supplies and equipment for students, OYH is encouraging proposals that identify indicators which link outcomes to funds distributed and that demonstrate a well-documented, thorough and comprehensive approach to providing educational services.
 
For more information, visit the OYH Education Grant website.
 
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
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

Congratulations to Great Expectations School and World Learner School for being named as High-Quality Charter Schools (HQCS) by MDE. Only twenty-two charter schools earned the HQCS designation in 2015, and these schools are eligible to apply for an expansion/replication grant or best practice award from Minnesota’s Federal Charter Schools Program Grant Project. These twenty-two schools have a track record of increasing student achievement and student success, and were identified based on proficiency and growth on standardized state tests, among other factors.
 
Laura Jeffrey Academy seventh grader Julia Nichols was recently recognized with the 2015 Donaldson Science Award from the Science Museum of Minnesota. The award, which includes a one-year membership to the Science Museum, is given annually to a middle or high school student of African American, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian heritage for achievements in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Julia was recognized for her science projects in 5th and 6th grade.
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.
For the second year in a row, Mob the Crow successfully predicted the winner of this year’s Super Bowl. Even Punxsutawney Phil is impressed by Mob’s prognosticating prowess.
This watercolor of Spike the Porcupine was painted by ACNW intern Kristen Morrow. Other watercolors painted by Kristen can be viewed at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ACNW.
Copyright © 2015 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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