ACNW Authorizer Update

September 4, 2013

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,

We can now safely say that all of you have started your school year and have experienced the excitement that comes along with it. The beginning of a school year brings with it much change: we know that fall is nearly upon us, many of us send our own children off to school or college, and we often set new goals and expectations in our work and life.
 
It can also be a time for moving and/or remodeling. Here at the ACNW Charter School Division, we are doing both. First, we are changing offices here at Riverplace. The only change will be the suite number. Effective October 1, we will be in Suite 507. Everything else stays the same. Second, we continue to so some remodeling and updating of our authorizer practices to improve the work we do. You will continue to see signs of this in revised frameworks, specific quality assurance plans for each school, and clear processes for renewal and/or expansion applications.
 
Fall is also the time when MCA test results are released.  While we have yet to dive deep into the data, we know that most schools statewide saw a substantial decrease in reading scores and minimal change in math scores.  A quick review of the schools we authorize shows a similar pattern. As we begin to do the Academic Performance Evaluations, we will closely review each school’s performance.  We also strongly encourage you to use your Annual Report, due October 1, to provide a full picture of academic performance at your school, including multiple data points disaggregated data and complete analysis. 
 
Please review the information below closely, and let us know if you have any questions.
 
We wish you the best on the start of a great school year.

Sincerely,

David & the ACNW Charter School Team
ACNW Charter School Division
43 Main Street SE, Suite 238
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 331-4181

UPCOMING DATES

Notice of Intent for Expansion: September 16, 2013
If your school plans to submit a request for expansion, including for an early learning program, for a program that you hope to implement for the 2014-15 school year, the deadline for the Notice of Intent is September 16, 2013. Information regarding this was sent to all school directors and board chairs via e-mail on August 15, 2013. Please contact David if you have any questions about this.

Annual Reports: October 1, 2013
Remember that your FY13 Annual Report is due to ACNW on October 1. It must also be distributed to your school community (parents and staff) and posted on your school’s website. (You do not need to send it to MDE.) We have sent out both statutory requirements and ACNW recommendations, including a template, for your annual report. This can also be found in Epicenter as a submission resource for the Annual Report compliance task. Remember, your annual report is a key tool for communicating your school’s complete story, and ACNW uses it as a key data source to gather information about your school’s performance, particularly in the area of academic performance.

FY14 Leaders Retreat at ACNW (Sandstone): November 1 & 2, 2013
Along with the new school year comes the ACNW Leaders Retreat! This will be a time to reflect, recharge, learn, and connect after successfully launchng your new school year. The 2013 dates were chosen based on your feedback, so please mark them on your calendar. As per your contract, your school is required to attend. This year's retreat will have a special environmental education component for your school's EE contact, as well as governance and leadership sessions for school directors and board members, and sessions led by you and your peers. Look for a specific email regarding the retreat no later than September 6.
QUALITY ASSURANCE PLANS
On Friday, September 6 we will be sending to each of your school a Quality Assurance Plan that outlines the monitoring and evaluation activities ACNW will conduct this school year. The document outlines the specific ACNW staff that will be engaging with your school in each key area (academics, finances, operations, and environmental education), and the timeline for various activities. In addition, the plan includes proposed dates for ACNW attendance at school board meetings and school site visits. We will confirm those dates with you to ensure there are no conflicts. We believe that these plans will provide both your school and ACNW clear expectations for the school year.
EPICENTER: DOCUMENT & COMPLIANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
The Epicenter rollout has been going quite well. Nearly all schools are fully engaged and uploading documents in a timely fashion. We held three trainings in August and will be holding one more training session on Wednesday, September 11. Please contact Erin if you would like a refresher or would like someone else from your staff or board to participate.
 
In addition, look for a specific Epicenter e-mail from me in the coming days.
SCHOOL WEBSITES
Legislative changes in 2013 impacted the requirements for school websites. ACNW has updated expectations for school websites. This document is available as a submission resource in Epicenter for the School Website Compliance task. As indicated in Epicenter, we expect your school websites to meet statutory and ACNW requirements by September 30. Please contact Erin with any questions about this.
 
One additional note: On a number of occasions, ACNW has received fax requests for student records. These requests should have gone to your schools, but for some reason come to us. If you have our fax number on your website, please remove it and include only the CSD phone number and e-mail address. Thank you.
NEPOTISM POLICY
Based on 2013 changes, MN Statute 124D.10 Subd 11(b) states that the charter school board of directors “shall adopt a policy on nepotism in employment.” We have included this as an Epicenter compliance task and your board approved policy must be uploaded no later than December 1, 2013. A sample policy and guidance from MACS are included as submission resources in Epicenter for the Nepotism Policy compliance task. You may find these documents useful as you develop a policy for your school.
COMMUNICATING WITH THE CHARTER SCHOOL DIVISION
While e-mail and telephone are always great ways to connect with us, if you are using Google Apps or Gmail, you can often quickly find us via Gchat during the business day. Use our e-mail addresses to invite us to connect.
COMMUNITY EXPERT PERMISSION REQUESTS
A number of you may have Community Expert Permission Requests to submit to the Board of Teaching for new or returning staff. The authorizer signature is required on this document prior to submission to the Board of Teaching. Please submit these to David. You must submit the entire application to David, including all attachments and all signatures. The signature by the authorizer is the final step in the process. David will review and either sign and return the document to you, or call you with any questions.
NETWORKING AND SHARING
Connecting with your colleagues is a great way to learn, share, and stay informed. The following link provides contact information for directors and board chairs of all schools authorized by ACNW: ACNW Directors and Board Chairs. Connecting with your colleagues is a great way to learn, share and stay informed.
 
Please contact Erin if you have updated contact information or need help using the document.
GRANT OPPORTUNITIES
Creativity and Learning Grants through Lego Children’s FundGrants of up to $5,000 are available from the Lego Children's Fund to support projects advancing creativity through early-childhood education and development, and technology and communication projects that advance learning opportunities. Eligibility must be determined by September 28 with proposals due October 15, 2013.
 
Target Field Trip Grants Available for K-12 ClassroomsTarget offers grants to support educational and relevant field trips for accredited K-12 public, private or charter school. Educators, teachers, principals, paraprofessionals or classified staff of these institutions must be willing to plan and execute a field trip that will provide a demonstrable learning experience for students. Applications are due October 1, 2013.
Copyright © 2013 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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