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Caryn, Author at Epicenter

11 May

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Job Opportunities at NCSI!

May 11, 2016 | By |

The National Charter Schools Institute is seeking experienced, high functioning, results-oriented professionals to join our team in the roles of an IT Support Technician and an IT Business Analyst. These individuals will help us develop and grow a dynamic array of tools and services strategically designed to strengthen performance and productivity in the education sector and across the organization.

To learn more about these positions and how to apply, click here.

29 Apr

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26 Apr

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Plan. Prepare. Relax.

April 26, 2016 | By | No Comments

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As we get ready to welcome summer and wrap up another school year, it is important to use the data in Epicenter to evaluate how each of your schools performed. You will be able to identify schools that are good candidates for replication or develop well-grounded plans for improvement for those schools that underperformed. Also, with the 2016-2017 school year just around the corner, we wanted to provide Epicenter System Administrators with best practices for preparing your Epicenter. Below is a quick list of the recommended actions. For detailed instructions, click here. Our team looks forward to continuing to support each of you as we win for kids!

  • Copying Requirements
  • Reviewing Active User Accounts
  • Evaluating Compliance Performance
  • Cleaning up Past Due Requirements
  • Completing Review/Approval Tasks
  • Evaluating Financial and Academic Performance (via Performance Center)

26 Apr

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Ferris State: A Force for Quality in Authorizing

April 26, 2016 | By | No Comments

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As an authorizer with 21 public school academies that enroll over 9,200 students, the Ferris State University Charter Schools Office heavily relies on Epicenter to fulfill their mission.

Ferris State originally started authorizing charter schools in the late 1990’s, when the Michigan legislature first allowed charters. Ferris State saw it as an extension of their mission which, 

“prepares students for successful careers, responsible citizenship, and lifelong learning. Through its many partnerships and its career-oriented, broad-based education, Ferris serves our rapidly changing global economy and society.”

Ferris State charter schools range from “regular” public school academies, to two strict discipline academies and one online academy, and they have 21 charters located from Muskegon to Detroit and numerous locations in between.

“We take our mission statement very seriously,” said Mindy Britton, the Compliance Auditor/Board Liaison for Ferris’ Charter School Office. “My job is to make sure our academies follow state and federal law and that the contracts between academy boards and Ferris State are followed.”

And that can be a daunting task. Mindy ensures that board members are appointed and reappointed based upon the each academy’s contract. Every board member must go through a background search and vetting process. Ferris State requires board members to achieve professional development activity credits. How does Mindy keep track of every board member from 21 different academies throughout the state?

“Before Epicenter I was tracking many of the board member requirements by hand. Their term in office, whether they had taken an oath of office, whether it was on file, where we were with their background search, and whether we had received all the files were just some of the things I had to keep track of.”

And it wasn’t just Mindy or Ferris State that needed copies of those documents. The individual academies and occasionally the State of Michigan would want access to Mindy’s mountains of paperwork.

“Epicenter saves me hours a week just on board management,” Mindy said. “The other beauty of it is that someone in the academy can look and see that an application hasn’t been received, or someone is up for reappointment—it saves me a tremendous amount of time. It also helps the schools stay on top of their board members.”

While the Board Center in Epicenter is crucial to Mindy, there are other parts of Epicenter that are even more important.

“We extensively use Epicenter’s Compliance Center,” Mindy said. “That piece saves me even more time. For example, a boiler permit—let’s say it expires next Tuesday. Boiler permits are good for three years, so it’s easy to lose track of that. I can put a task in Epicenter and file it and forget it because Epicenter will remind me and the academy that in 30 days that permit expires. That gives everyone piece of mind.”

But the Compliance Center is good for more than permits, it also helps keep academies transparent and accessible to the general public. Mindy uses the Compliance Center for all Open Meetings Act requirements. Academy boards are public entities that must file everything in a transparent manner so it is accessible to the public.

“When everything must be posted, where they are meeting, the agenda, and when the minutes need to be made can be a daunting task, especially for the school. When I get a board calendar for the year, I go into Epicenter, I set up all the tasks associated with board meeting, and Epicenter sends out a reminder for academies.”

Ferris State’s use of Epicenter isn’t limited to Mindy. All 21 academies that Ferris State authorizes not only have access to Epicenter, but they are required to have someone on staff who is knowledgeable about Epicenter and constantly updates it.

“We require every one of our academies to upload required documents. We demand one hundred percent compliance and our schools are ‘graded’ on that. Our requirements are tied to state or federal law and to the academy’s contract. Our requests add value to each academy. We have mid-contracts and reauthorization reviews, and one of the rubrics we use is that they meet all the requirements for Epicenter.”

And Epicenter directly helps the administration of Ferris’ academies. All permits that are required are uploaded into Epicenter, and it’s more than just boiler permits.

“Everyone uses Epicenter to make sure their surroundings are secure and up to date. If they are serving lunch we use Epicenter to make sure they have a health department permit. If they have an elevator that needs to be inspected every 90 days. Epicenter serves as a reminder to schools to get everything up to date and allows administrators to spend more time with teachers and students.”

Ferris State uses Epicenter not only to oversee the safety of each building and the compliance of each board member, they also use it when the State of Michigan shows up for an Assurance and Verification visit.

“A few years ago, the Michigan Department of Education visited us to ensure that we were following various aspects of the law. I heard that, back in the days before Epicenter, it was difficult because they wanted so many documents. This time, when the state visited the office, I could pull up a document in two seconds flat. They asked for an oath of office from an officer at an academy and a conflict of interest document signed by this board member at this other academy. Done. They were really impressed. And I was able to do that because Epicenter serves as an incredibly efficient filing cabinet for us.”

“In fact, the Ferris State auditor came over to do an audit and the same thing happened—I could pull up documents in seconds. And both the state and the auditor had the same recommendation—incorporate more of Epicenter into more of your processes. Before we would prepare for months for an audit. Now it takes seconds. And once a document is in Epicenter it is always there and it just makes life easier.”

“I can’t say enough about Epicenter and the people that work with Epicenter. If I need a change or have a suggestion I get it immediately. Epicenter has made my job a lot easier.”

27 Jan

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Winter 2016 Release

January 27, 2016 | By | No Comments

Join us for our upcoming webinar!

You’ll love how we’ve improved Epicenter to help you manage your portfolio and performance.

Over the last several months our team has enhanced Epicenter to make it a more powerful tool for you. Join our team on an upcoming webinar to learn about these new features and how they can streamline compliance and improve your organization’s performance.

 

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See your portfolio’s compliance at a glance

Manage compliance faster and easier through the all-new look of Epicenter’s Compliance Center. Our new interactive statistics dashboard allows you to view and quickly access what requirements are due, past due, complete, and pending to help you more effectively manage your portfolio.

 

Save time and hassle searching your calendar

Stay on task and on track with Epicenter’s improved calendar. Our enhanced filters allow you to search your calendar faster, saving you time and hassle when looking for key items about finances, boards, and schools.

Enable narratives with submissions

Capture the information you need by allowing submissions to capture a file, text or both! Our new narrative feature will save time and bring greater clarity and alignment throughout your organization.

Connect school management together efficiently

Stay on track with who is involved in each school’s day-to-day operations through Epicenter’s enhancements. Our new features allow you to connect multiple management organizations to each a school, helping you stay on top of each school’s unique operating structure.

11 Sep

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Back-to-School 2015 Release

September 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

Are You Leveraging the Full Power of Epicenter?

Check out the new features and see how you can put the power of Epicenter to work for your organization.

 

Making Compliance Routine

Whether you’re a school fulfilling compliance requirements or an authorizer overseeing accountability, we’ve made it easier than ever to find the information you need to complete your tasks. Our new dashboards enable you to see-at-a-glance the compliance status of an individual or portfolio of schools. This allows you to quickly identify and address areas in need of your attention to ensure compliance.

(Premium Feature)  

Putting Demographic Information at Your Fingertips

School Demographics Dashboards: Epicenter’s new school demographics dashboards equip you with the information you need about students enrolled in an individual school or your entire portfolio. For example, easy-to-understand charts allow you to view:

  • Enrollment by year and by grade, how long students have attended the school, and which districts students are coming from.
  • Information on student characteristics, including demographic data, how many students qualify for free and/or reduced price lunch, how many students receive special education services, and how many students are English language learners (ELL).

(Premium Feature)  

Measuring Academic and Financial Performance

Epicenter’s Performance Center makes it easy to view the academic and financial performance of a school or compare across a portfolio of schools.

Academics: Easily toggle between years in the academics scatter plot and school view charts to see student growth and achievement over time.

Finance: New financial dashboards, a debt service coverage ratio and information on a school’s cash flow, help monitor for sound fiscal stewardship.

Performance Center also makes it easy to demonstrate your results to stakeholders. Epicenter’s charts and graphs can be downloaded and exported as high-resolution vector files (.csv or .svg) for use in other publications.

Simplifying User and Role Management

Grow your portfolio and manage change with confidence. Epicenter now features one easy-to-use area to manage your groups, users, entities, and submission types. This simplifies the process for adding new schools within a portfolio or managing changes in roles.

Fulfilling Transparency Requirements Made Easy

Demands for transparency are increasing, and Epicenter has been enhanced to meet these new requirements. Epicenter now offers shareable static URLs for documents, and the ability to limit the number of documents displayed on your website. This helps keep required web postings current with ease.

Coordinating and Communicating Efficiently

More easily upload documents and improve communication across your team and with your stakeholders with Epicenter’s enhanced communications functions.

Email alerts for submission notes: Automatically get notified when a note regarding one of your uploads is added to Epicenter. Subscribe to email alerts on other submission notes with the right permissions.

Reuse submissions: Search for an existing document across entities that can still be used or can be referenced when satisfying a requirement.

Spotlight key submissions: Make critical documents easy to access in Board Center, School Center and Document Center. Filter through these documents by their status to see which ones are under review, approved, and rejected.

Upload directly through My Documents: Documents can now be uploaded directly through My Documents, reducing the number of steps needed to complete an upload.

Providing More Options to Upload Data

Now, data can be imported into Epicenter directly through uploading multiple types of files. Financial data can be uploaded from QuickBooks and generic financial import. Epicenter can also display enrollment data from files maintained by your state, generic student files, and manually-entered enrollment numbers.

And there’s more…

  • Document expiration dates can be set when scheduling a compliance requirement.
  • Document expiration notifications inform a user when they try to reuse a past document that has expired.
  • Warning notifications occur when a requirement being scheduled falls on a weekend.
  • New standard fields have been added to collect information on schools and contacts:
    • School Center fields: charter contract effective date, contract maximum enrollment, grade levels per contract, the local school district in which the charter is located, and the regional education service agency in which the charter is located.
    • Contacts fields:  Position/title, spouse/partner’s name, address, ethnicity, highest level of education attained, and employer’s name.

08 Sep

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19 May

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11 May

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Washington State Charter Conference

May 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

We had a great time at the Washington State Charter School Association Conference last week! Check out this presentation on Charter Application Development:
http://nationalcharterschools.org/charter-application-deve…/

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11 May

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Work Smarter, not Harder!

May 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

You’ve never seen the Charter School Life Cycle look so simple! From the application process to  school closure, Epicenter strives to make every stage of the Charter School Life Cycle easy. Learn how you can get Life Cycle PLUS today!!

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