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News - Page 3 of 5 - Epicenter

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

16 Sep

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Work Seamlessly With Other Organizations

September 16, 2016 | By |

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More is achieved when schools, boards, authorizers, and support organizations are aligned and working together.  That is why Epicenter is designed to allow collaboration within and across organizations.  By sharing a common platform, everyone has access to the documents and information they need to fulfill their roles and responsibilities.  Over the years we have seen more and more Epicenter subscribers grant access to third parties.  Some examples are: auditors, state and national associations, application reviewers, daily compliance reviewers, state superintendents, and commissioners.

Oversight shouldn’t be a tug-of-war.  When schools, boards, authorizers, and support organizations share Epicenter, everyone’s role is defined.  Working from a common calendar, it is easy to see what’s coming and to align for success.  Epicenter’s flexible framework allows you to provide access to certain areas or even certain documents to the users you choose.

If you have any questions or are interested in inviting third parties to your Epicenter account so you can work seamlessly with other organizations, please contact the Epicenter Support Team at support@epicenternow.org or 1-855-889-1624 for more information.

14 Jul

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Epicenter Strengthens OCCS

July 14, 2016 | By |

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The Ohio Council of Community Schools (OCCS) is one of the first and largest sponsors of charter schools in the Buckeye State. The OCCS has 48 schools and approximately 26,000 students, all hailing from “the river to the lake,” an Ohio reference to the Ohio River in the south to Lake Erie in the north.

OCCS uses its 15 years of experience in authorizing to offer its schools robust technical assistance in the areas of finance, special education, academics, and more. They collaborate with schools, management partners, and other education advocates to ensure all students have access to high-quality education options.

As the premier charter school authorizer in Ohio, OCCS offers blended learning schools, electronic schools, traditional brick and mortar schools, bilingual academies, prep and fitness academies, and dropout academies, all in an effort to try to change the face of public education.

Lenny Schafer, the Executive Director at OCCS, said “we are unique because of capacity. If we sponsor a school, we have a regional representative located within a 25-mile radius. And I hire educators with experience in charter schools. Our representatives know their region, visit schools, and attend board meetings. If they walk into a school and see a problem, they can get into the trenches and get to work and help.” Another important fact about OCCS is that they are the designee of the University of Toledo (UT), which makes them unique. They are the only sponsor in Ohio that is a University designee. They are also the only sponsor in Ohio that makes authorizing charter schools their only business.

“We don’t make a dime off of any services,” Schafer said. “We don’t sell services, we just sponsor schools and no one else in Ohio can say that.”

And Schafer is a proponent of Epicenter. “Previously, we would run around the state trying to collect the necessary paperwork from each school,” Schafer said. “We would end up with shoeboxes full of paperwork. We needed to cut down on our time and our principals’ time dealing with paperwork, and that’s where Epicenter came in. Our schools love Epicenter because they don’t need to spend time running around and gathering documents, it’s all there and available online, which saves us time to spend on the kids.”

One of the Epicenter features that OCCS uses is Board Center. “We use Epicenter for tracking and governing our boards,” Schafer said. “This year we are going through our sponsor review, which is the most important thing that a sponsor will go through in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Education uses Epicenter for their sponsor evaluation, which was great because it gave us a leg up by cutting down on a lot of time and effort for us.”

OCCS gives each of their charter schools under the OCCS access to Epicenter. They ask that the school have someone on staff use Epicenter and OCCS trains them.

“Epicenter makes life easier because we can see what we need to collect for the entire year,” Schafer said. “And we can highlight key timelines in advance. Also, if they get a public document request, all of that information is at their fingertips. This allows us to do trainings and sit in classrooms and spend more time on parents and kids and allows each school to spend time on their students instead of on paperwork.”

And OCCS is making a positive impact on education in Ohio. This year, two OCCS schools—Arts and College Preparatory Academy and Columbus Preparatory Academy—were named Ohio Schools of Promise and Schools of Honor. Each year the Ohio Department of Education recognizes outstanding schools that maintain high academic achievement among their students, despite many coming from economically disadvantaged circumstances that can make learning difficult.  This year, just 29 schools received these awards.

“We’re proud of our schools and love the support that Epicenter gives us,” Schafer said. “Epicenter makes it easier to educate kids, and at the end of the day that’s what matters most.”

14 Jul

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Michigan Transparency Reporting Made Easy

July 14, 2016 | By |

Transparency Reports

Epicenter makes meeting the Michigan Transparency Reporting requirements easy! With Epicenter, submissions can be flagged for transparency, scheduled, and an HTML code can be created.  Once the HTML code is embedded into a website, the documents being uploaded and approved to Epicenter will automatically be posted on the school’s website!

Not sure what submissions should be collected to meet the Michigan Transparency Reporting requirements? If so, we have made that part easy too! We created a file that lists the names of the submission types, the instructions, and even included whether or not the narrative feature should be enabled for those submissions that might not be applicable to the school.

14 Jul

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Meet Our Newest Members!

July 14, 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.

Charter Authorizers Regional Support Network (CARSNet)

The Charter Authorizers Regional Support Network or CARSNet is a project of the Alameda County Office of Education funded by a U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program National Leadership Activities Grant awarded in March 2015.  It is designed to improve the capacity of charter authorizing agencies and their staff to conduct rigorous application reviews, monitor and oversee charter schools using multiple sources of data, maintain a portfolio of high-quality charter schools, and evaluate and disseminate information on charter school performance.

Chicago Public Schools, Office of Innovation and Incubation

The Office of Innovation and Incubation (I&I) seeks to identify and bring to Chicago the most promising innovative approaches to education, and to broaden the reach of innovative ideas proven to be effective within our District. I&I will provide a robust incubation process, effectively position CPS as the leader in urban education for high standards and operator accountability, and empower families to identify and access the best options for their children.

Kids Count of Dayton, Inc.

Kids Count of Dayton, Inc. is a charter school sponsor that was established in 2005. Their mission is to advocate for school choice through quality authorization for academic achievement. Their core values include accountability, advocacy, equity, integrity, student achievement, and trust. They are currently sponsoring six charter schools in Ohio.

Missouri Charter Public School Commission

The Missouri Charter Public School Commission was established in 2012. The first commissioners were appointed in fall 2014. Lawmakers, charter school advocates, and education reformers wanted an independent sponsoring entity with the authority to sponsor high-quality charter schools throughout Missouri. Currently, the Missouri Charter Public School Commission is sponsoring and opening its first charter school in August 2016, Citizens of the World Kansas City.

West Shore Educational Service District

West Shore Educational Service District is a school district located in Ludington, Michigan. Its mission is to provide leadership and support to local school districts. Currently, West Shore Educational Service District is authorizing and opening its first charter school in the fall of 2016, Gateway To Success Academy.

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)