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ACNW Authorizer Update

December 17, 2015

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,
We hope these last days before winter break go smoothly, and that you use this break to relax, spend time with friends and family, and get outside to enjoy the wintery weather. (Note: For those of you in central and southern Minnesota, wintery weather may be in short supply the next couple weeks, for better or for worse.)
We are always hoping that this newsletter reaches all board members as well as staff in leadership roles at all charters schools authorized by ACNW. Please forward to your colleagues and ask them to subscribe if they are not receiving these updates.

Enjoy the final days of fall and the first days of winter - respectively ending and starting on Tuesday, December 22.

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

Note: If you are viewing this email in Gmail, some portions of the newsletter may initially be rendered unviewable. To view this content, simply click on the ellipses icon [...] wherever it appears in the email.

ACNW CSD Staffing Update

We are sad to share that Holly Garnell is no longer working at ACNW.  While Holly very much enjoyed her time with ACNW, she is taking a break from her professional endeavors to spend more time with her family. Holly has been a great member of our team over the last half year and we are very thankful for her contributions during this time. She will be missed.

We are in the process of reviewing our staffing needs and structure and will be posting in the near future. In the meantime, please know that Mike, Erin, Aaliyah and I will continue to carry out our authorizing responsibilities. Please contact me or Mike with any day-to-day questions or issues. 
ACNW FY16 Leaders Retreat

The recent ACNW Leaders Retreat was a great success. We hosted approximately 85 school directors, board members, teachers, and other staff from 33 ACNW authorized schools. We are in the process of uploading materials from the sessions to a website and will provide you with that link in the next Authorizer Update. We heard from many of the participants that this was the best ACNW Leaders Retreat to date! Below are some comments we received:
  • “I gained a lot of positive perspective about governance and functions of charter school leadership.”
  • “My goal was to learn more about board governance and how to run a professional, peaceful meeting when multiple board members wear multiple ‘hats’ in the school. Also how to build a school board culture. I think all of these questions were met at some point during the retreat.”
  • “It was nice to meet so many diverse people from great schools who are also facing some similar struggles.”
Thanks again to all of you who participated and helped to make the retreat a great learning experience. 
Charter School Extended Time Revenue

Minnesota’s 2015 Legislative Session enacted a provision to provide additional general education revenue to qualifying charter schools for providing optional instructional programs in addition to the school’s core required school year beginning in state fiscal year 2016. 

Minnesota Statutes, section 124E.20, Subdivision 1(b) states: For a charter school operating an extended day, extended week, or summer program, the general education revenue in paragraph (a) is increased by an amount equal to 25 percent of the statewide average extended time revenue per adjusted pupil unit.

Please visit this link to view or download the instructions to apply for these additional funds.

Board Membership: Conflicts of Interest

The Minnesota Charter School Law, Chapter 124E, clearly outlines who can and cannot be a member of the board of directors. Statute states that board membership must include:

(1) at least one licensed teacher employed as a teacher at the school […]; (2) at least one parent or legal guardian of a student enrolled in the charter school who is not an employee of the charter school; and (3) at least one interested community member who resides in Minnesota and is not employed by the charter school and does not have a child enrolled in the school.
In addition, statute places the following limitations on board membership related to conflicts of interest:

(b) An individual is prohibited from serving as a member of the charter school board of directors if the individual, an immediate family member, or the individual's partner is a full or part owner or principal with a for-profit or nonprofit entity or independent contractor with whom the charter school contracts, directly or indirectly, for professional services, goods, or facilities. An individual is prohibited from serving as a board member if an immediate family member is an employee of the school.
Some practices that ACNW has seen that are not allowed as outlined by statute are:
  • A community or parent board member who is paid by the school to serve as an intermittent substitute teacher at the school;
  • A community board member whose husband is a teacher at the school;
  • A teacher board member who is not fully licensed, but has permission to teach at the school on a non-licensed community expert waiver from the Board of Teaching.
If we become aware of any situation contrary to statute, we will make your school aware of the issue and require actions to remedy the matter. That said, we expect that your board will self-monitor to ensure situations such as those above do not occur. 
Proposed Rule on Integration and Achievement

The Minnesota Department of Education issued its proposed Rule on Integration and Achievement that would put charter schools under a rule from which they have been exempted and laws that the MN Legislature has not made applicable to charters. As part of this process, MDE will hold a formal rulemaking hearing on the proposed rule on January 6, 2016. The hearing will be held at the Minnesota Department of Education beginning at 9:30 am. More information about the hearing and how to submit testimony or comments about the department’s proposed Achievement and Integration rule are available in the Notice of Hearing document posted on the Achievement and Integration Rulemaking webpage. The department’s proposed rule draft and the Statement of Need and Reasonableness (SONAR) supporting the department’s proposed Achievement and Integration rule are also available on this webpage.
This rule could have significant impact on many schools if implemented. We encourage you to review this information closely and attend the hearing if you are able to do so.
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.

Captain Planet Foundation: Grants for Hands-On Environmental Education Activities
Applications due January 31, 2016
The mission of the Captain Planet Foundation is to promote and support high-quality educational programs that engage children and youth in active hands-on learning experiences focused on the environment in their schools and communities. Grants are intended to serve as a means of bringing environment-based education to schools and to inspire youth and communities to participate in community service through environmental stewardship activities. The foundation will fund unique and innovative projects that do not precisely match the grant guidelines but otherwise promote the foundation’s mission of hands-on environmental activities. Visit the CPF website for complete program guidelines and the online application form. â€œThe power is yours!”

National Endowment for the Arts: Challenge America Grants
Applications due April 14, 2016

The National Endowment for the Arts is accepting applications for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations. Through the Challenge America grants program, NEA will award grants of $10,000 to professional projects that have a $10,000 match from an outside funder. Applicants are encouraged to consider partnerships among organizations, both in and outside the arts, as appropriate to their project.

For complete program guidelines and application procedures, visit the NEA website.

Karma for Cara Foundation: Youth Microgrants
Applications accepted on an on-going basis.

The Karma for Cara Foundation is a nonprofit founded by 21-year-old Cara Becker and her family while she was undergoing treatment for leukemia at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Cara and her two brothers began volunteering at a young age as part of their family’s commitment to community service. She and her family saw a tremendous need to help support other patients and their families who were also challenged by cancer. Tragically, Cara passed four months after her diagnosis, yet her wish to help others through K4C lives on with the support of an ever-growing circle of family and friends.

As part of an effort to promote and support youth voluntarism, K4C started a microgrant program in fall 2014 to encourage kids 18 and under to apply for a grant of between $250 and $1,000 to complete service projects in their communities. Examples of fundable projects include but are not limited to turning a vacant lot into a community garden, rebuilding a school playground, and helping senior citizens get their homes ready for winter. Grants will be distributed as gift cards to home goods stores, office supply stores, grocery food chains, and toy stores.

For complete program guidelines, profiles of previous projects, and application instructions, visit the Karma for Cara Foundation website.

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. 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.
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 and winter.
“Pumpkins ain’t got nothin’ on me!” ~ Woody the Eagle
Winter is coming....
(....but not fast enough!)
Copyright © 2015 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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