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Newsletter Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Epicenter

06 Jan

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Epicenter Working to Make the New Missouri Charter Public School Commission a Success

January 6, 2017 | By |

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The Missouri Charter Public School Commission (MCPSC) is approximately two years old but they are already having a positive impact on education.  Their commissioners were appointed in September 2014 and Robbyn Wahby was hired as the Executive Director in May 2015. They sponsored their first school in October 2015 and that school opened in August.

 

Before working at the MCPSC, Wahby spent nearly fourteen years in the office of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.  In the mayor’s office she worked on education policy, and had a hand in the launch of an exciting charter school effort in that city.  That effort led to a successful policy that currently has over 10,000 students in charters.  Under the leadership of Mayor Slay, St. Louis opened 26 charter schools in almost 10 years and also successfully increased enrollment in public schools by three percent.  The mayor also closed six low performing charters, which demonstrates that the mayor’s plan was not about charter schools, but about promoting quality education.

 

Missouri opened their first charter school in 1999, and the MCPSC was created add to the state’s charter schools landscape by ensuring that there were enough independent statewide sponsors of charter schools.  The goal of the MCPSC is to make sure that all children in Missouri have access to high-performing public schools, whether that be a traditional public school or a charter school.

 

“We’re really careful about setting numbers—our goal is quality,” said Wahby.  “Ultimately our goal is to sponsor high-performing schools so everyone has access to a good school, especially in our two urban areas of St. Louis and Kansas City.”

 

The MCPSC also strives to disseminate best educational practices.  They want to make sure that whoever is involved in education–whether it be teachers, parents, or principals–knows what charter schools are about and knows that positive events are happening in charter schools that can be replicated elsewhere.

 

And Epicenter has been a tremendous help to the MCPSC team.

 

“Epicenter has been a terrific addition to our operations,” said Wahby.  “We want to share quality and that quality is seen throughout our accountability work.  We are public schools and the public has a right to information that is as transparent as possible.  Epicenter allows us to take all contracts, data, and information from the schools and simply and easily give that data to the public so they can determine whether we are doing our job and whether the schools are doing their job–both on the finance side and on the academic side.”

 

“Also, we need to have the information necessary to make the best decisions and protect the autonomy of our schools.  Epicenter gives us all the tools to accomplish these goals by giving applicants equal access to data and information, and allowing us to process data.”

 

When MCPSC was established, they wanted to be lean and ensure that resources went directly to the schools.  As a public agency, MCPSC went through the bidding process for a software firm.

 

“We were familiar with Epicenter, but we also asked others to bid on our technology needs,” Wahby said.  “Epicenter was head and shoulders above the rest.  It was easy to select them.  There are a lot of products out there that gather and aggregate data, but Epicenter had the ability to aggregate the performance data and give that to the public through our website.”

 

“There is an interest to get data out and to be as transparent as possible.  The key is to give the public data and also perspective on the data.  That is where Epicenter shined, especially in the performance center portion of Epicenter.  The ability to track the academic and financial performance of schools was critically important.  It’s also important for the public and legislature to see the status of our schools.”

 

“Finally, one of the great things about Epicenter has been that it’s easy to use.  The Epicenter team that offers assistance was phenomenal, and a special kudos to Stephanie for her help!  I would absolutely recommend Epicenter to others and I hope others in Missouri would use Epicenter–we would highly recommend it!”

06 Jan

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Did you know?

January 6, 2017 | By |

Did you know that you can now update file submissions as long as they are in Edit Mode? A file uploaded will remain in Edit Mode until the Due Date (compliance submission only) or the Submission Status has changed since it was first uploaded.  Check out this new feature added in our Holiday Release.

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06 Jan

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JAN 2017: Meet Our Newest Partners!

January 6, 2017 | By |

We would like to welcome the following organizations to Epicenter!

We are excited about these new partnerships and look forward to sharing our passion for improving the quality of education for all children.

Alameda County Office of Education: Charter Schools Office

Alameda County serves East Bay communities in the greater San Francisco – Bay Area. Led by County Superintendent Karen Monroe, the County Office serves communities as diverse as Oakland and Berkeley in the north and Fremont, which borders Silicon Valley to the south. The County Board of Education has authorized seven charters including those serving high need communities in Oakland, an urban Montessori, an urban Waldorf and a Mandarin Dual Immersion school.

Dayton Public Schools

The mission of Dayton Public Schools is to equip their students to achieve success in a global society by implementing an effective and rigorous curriculum. Dayton Public Schools currently sponsors two charter schools in Ohio. Dayton Business Technology High School is a conversion charter school. The Dayton Early College Academy is focused on preparing urban learners to go to college and graduate.

10 Nov

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Empowering Diverse Organizations for Greatness

November 10, 2016 | By |

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Though Epicenter is rooted in empowering authorizers and operators with the tools for effective portfolio and performance management, Epicenter’s power can and is now being harnessed by financing and development partners that make it possible for school founders to turn their dreams into reality. These organizations, such as HighMark School Development, have experienced how Epicenter simplifies and brings consistency and clarity to the management of any recurring task or event.  HighMark recently included an article on their usage of Epicenter in their quarterly newsletter.

Facility finance organizations can use Epicenter to easily manage the process of vetting schools, streamline required reporting, manage documents, and maintain data and historical information.  The municipal bond market can use Epicenter to help manage the lifecycle of a typical bond.  With automatic email reminders of what’s due, when it’s due, and who is responsible for upcoming tasks, organizations can eliminate surprises so they can plan ahead and balance their workloads, share information, make key documents readily available, and automate their workflow and reporting.  That way, people and organizations are better prepared for whatever may come their way.

10 Nov

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Did you know?

November 10, 2016 | By |

Did you know that you can quickly view all 2016-2017 compliance requirements by selecting School under a school’s name on the Statistics Dashboard in Compliance Center?

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10 Nov

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Through CARSNet, Epicenter is Assisting Small Authorizers in California

November 10, 2016 | By |

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The Charter Authorizers Regional Support Network (CARSNet) is a project of the Alameda County Office of Education.  CARSNet is funded by a U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program National Leadership Activities Grant, which was awarded in March 2015.

CARSNet has a three-year grant and their mission is to train and support charter authorizers in California that have six or fewer schools.

CARSNet is one and a half years into their grant, and one of the resources they provide their authorizers is Epicenter.  An authorizer must complete a three-day “boot camp” or a “master” class, and once they complete either, they are provided free access to Epicenter until 2019. The boot camp is intense, and it takes participants through the life cycle and legal aspects of a charter school, and demonstrates the skills necessary to be a strong authorizer, including interviewing charter applicants and presenting in front of a board.

“We are excited to give folks who go to our boot camp or master class free access to Epicenter,” said Gail Greely, Director of CARSNet.  “If your job is to monitor two active charter schools, you do not want to be wasting your time sending emails, tracking down a financial report, or working with an Excel spreadsheet to try to understand how a school’s enrollment demographic changed from year to year.  That’s why we included Epicenter.  We want people spending time on what matters—analyzing results, not inputting data.”

By gathering authorizers together and working with them, CARSNet’s long-term goal is to help authorizers make better decisions and promote better schools.  But the immediate challenge is to reach out to authorizers that charter six or fewer schools.  In California, two-thirds of authorizers charter only one or two schools.  The CARSNet grant focuses on reaching out to these small authorizers.

“We are excited to offer Epicenter to our colleagues because we know it will make them more efficient,” Greely said.  “It will be great to see how our authorizers are using Epicenter.”

Gail Greely is the Director of CARSNet.  Previously, she was the Director of the Charter Schools Office within the Alameda County Office of Education, which is a moderate-size authorizer in California.  Before that she was Director of the Charter Schools Office of the Oakland Unified School District for two years.  She was also an elected school board member for eight years in the City of Alameda.  Greely is also an attorney with a background in energy and education.

10 Nov

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Our Upcoming Release Will Help You be Present for the Holidays

November 10, 2016 | By |

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Your time is important. And there’s never enough of it. That’s why Epicenter will be upgraded on December 10th with new features that have your schedule in mind.

With the ability to edit and track document changes, you’ll be more self-sufficient. New abilities to schedule reoccurring requirements will help you plan faster. New file storage capacities makes it easier to find and know why a submission was returned. The ability to control when you receive reminders for tasks will give you peace of mind.

And that’s just the beginning. In total, more than 30 new features will be added to save you time and increase your efficiency.

These upgrades will allow you to spend more time with those who matter most—in school and at home—this holiday season. This will also make it easier to start next year prepared for success.

Join us for an upcoming webinar to see for yourself what a gift these new features will be. Watch your inbox for information on how to register.

16 Sep

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SEPT: Meet Our Newest Members

September 16, 2016 | By |

We would like to welcome the following organizations to Epicenter!

We are excited about these new partnerships and look forward to sharing our passion for improving the quality of education for all children.

Indiana Charter School Board

The Indiana Charter School Board’s mission is to authorize and hold accountable a portfolio of high-performing charter schools in which students achieve high levels of growth and graduate prepared for college and careers.

The Board reviews proposals to establish charter schools, makes a decision on the proposal, and monitors the charter schools they sponsor.  Currently, the Indiana Charter School Board oversees 19 charter schools in Indiana.

Bardwell Group

The Bardwell Group is an educational management company located in Redford, Michigan.  Its mission is to provide administrative services to public school academies and private or parochial schools to allow them to better focus on educating students.  Currently, the Bardwell Group provides services to two charter schools located in Michigan.

16 Sep

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Thomas B. Fordham Institute Focuses on Quality

September 16, 2016 | By |

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As one of the nation’s leading advocates for educational excellence, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is actively involved in promoting and improving the charter school experience.  The Fordham Institute not only conducts research and analysis on education, but also charters eleven charter schools that serve 3,400 students in Ohio.  Fordham’s mission is that every child deserves educational excellence, and Fordham uses data and research to help provide that.

“We are focused on increasing the number of high-quality educational options for students in Ohio,” said Theda Sampson, the Director of Applications and Contracts for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.  “And by authorizing charters in Ohio, we are directly helping improve the lives of children every day.”

The Fordham Institute is known for rigorous research and publishing numerous works, including recent publications on the common core, urban education, and improving school leadership.  They also work to build broad, pro-charter and pro-education reform coalitions that advocate strengthening education nationwide.  And their direct work in authorizing charter schools is proof of their success.

“Epicenter is great for us and our schools,” Sampson said.  “We make sure every one of our schools has someone who knows how to use Epicenter.  The Ohio Department of Education also uses Epicenter, so the school documents we collect can be aligned to their requirements for monitoring and compliance.”

Sampson directs the application, contract accountability, performance and renewal process for the schools Fordham authorizes.  Sampson finds that using Epicenter keeps everyone involved in the process on the same page and allows for better communication and data sharing.  It also makes it easier for the individual schools to stay on track, share documents, and know when projects are due.  “Epicenter makes life better for our individual schools because instead of chasing paper all day, they can focus on actually educating kids,” Sampson said.

Fordham’s schools not only provide a quality education to students throughout Ohio, but they are also award winning.  The Columbus Collegiate Academy, Dayton Leadership Academy, and KIPP Columbus won 2015 Momentum Awards from the Ohio Department of Education.

16 Sep

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The Entire Lifecycle of a School

September 16, 2016 | By |

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As an authorizer, imagine being able to track and store the first piece of paper generated when a school is in the process of applying.  Next, think of the documents needed at the time of reauthorization. Then imagine if the school closes in 10, 20 or even 30 years and having to track and store all the documents that need to be completed during the closure process.  This can all happen with Epicenter!

Epicenter provides a single location managing documents and records during the application, startup, operating, reauthorization and closure of a school.  When using the application features of Epicenter, your organization can store every letter of intent and determine when to give access to Epicenter to those who will be submitting an application.  Once the application has been uploaded, it can then be routed to an individual at the authorizing office for a completeness check.

Next, your internal and external reviewers can receive and review the application and upload their completed evaluations.  These evaluations are then routed to the lead reviewer.  If the applicant is awarded authorization then the school can easily be transitioned to the contract, startup and operating requirements.   If the school is denied, then you can remove the applicant from the active list but still have quick access to any of those applicants’ documents.

By leveraging Epicenter from the day you receive the school’s letter of intent, you can rest assured that all of your information is in one location, and give the applicant immediate access to Epicenter.  This can streamline your process, greatly reduce the learning curve of the system and set everyone up for long-term success!

View more at about the Charter School Life Cycle