Minnesota Charter School Conference 2016 Agenda


The event will take place from 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. An opening keynote by Dr. Brian Bridges will begin at 8:30 a.m., and the event will conclude with a closing keynote and reception from 4 – 6 p.m. celebrating 25 years of evolving charter school legislation. 

The following is a summary of the schedule and session topics for the day.


7:30 – 8:30 a.m.

Registration and breakfast

8:30 – 9:40 a.m.

Welcome and keynote by Dr. Brian Bridges, UNCF

Dr. Brian Bridges, Ph.D., is UNCF's vice president of research and member engagement and leads UNCF's Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute (FDPRI). In this role, he serves as UNCF's chief research officer, principal editor and contributor for FDPRI's publications and the manager of internal and external projects involving capacity building, evaluation and assessment. Prior to joining UNCF, Brian was vice provost for diversity, access and equity at Ohio University.

9:45 – 10:35 a.m.

Concurrent sessions:

The Charter School Integration Debate: Why Every School Should Care

Whether you know it or not, your school is affected by two related efforts to “desegregate” charter schools: one by changes in MDE policy (though these are currently on hold) and another by a lawsuit now making its way through the courts. Their most obvious targets are schools that serve high numbers of students of color, from a particular ethnic group. But every charter school could be negatively impacted by unfunded compliance costs. And the very basis for Minnesota’s charter law—exemption from school-related legislation unless specifically included— is at risk.

Facilities Planning & Financing - Bank Qualified Bonds as a Financing Option

Facilities planning and financing options are an issue on the minds of nearly every charter school leader and board. This session will touch on various financing options available for schools, and point out the differences between these options, eligibility for certain financing options, and who needs to be involved. This session will specifically highlight an example of use of Bank Qualified Bonds for school financing, and will feature a conversation about the pros and cons from the school's perspective and the value it provided. 

College Knowledge: Preparing Urban Students for Post-Secondary Success

Community of Peace Academy's High School's 4-year graduation rates regularly exceed state averages. College acceptance rates are over 90% annually (e.g., by Howard, Cornell, Lawrence, Macalester, Carleton, and St. Olaf). Over 70% of juniors and seniors earn college credit while in high school. Learn how to foster a Mindset of Perseverance and Post-Secondary Success and to identify resources and tools for College Readiness Advisory Programs, College Parent Nights, Future Choices and Planning Student Groups, Guidance Counseling, Concurrent Enrollment Programs, and Scholarship Promotion. 

10:45 – 11:35 a.m.

Concurrent sessions:

The Aftermath of the 2016 Legislative Session and What's Ahead

The end of a legislative session always raises two questions: (1) What changes do public schools need to make as a result of the new legislation? (2) What changes could be coming for schools in the next legislative session? In this breakout session, we will look at the changes schools need to make in the 2016-17 school year as a result of the 2016 Legislative Session, and explore some of the questions that will be on the legislature’s agenda during the 2017 Legislative Session. 

Understanding Charter School Financials: What Leadership Needs to Know

This session will explore the financial side of charter schools and focus on the aspects most relevant to school board members and executive directors. Topics will include an overview of financial reporting, fund balance and the importance of growing the fund balance, budgeting, and cash flow forecasting. This interactive session will provide context for decision making and identify best-practices.  

Toxic Stress, School Violence, and Teacher Turnover

Toxic stress is a PTSD-like condition that arises from repeated, sustained, lower-level environmental factors (such as poverty, racism, violence, and abuse). Like PTSD, it induces a fright/flight/fight response that makes learning—and living—more difficult. Toxic stress contributes to school violence, and the two together can create a stressful environment for teachers, leading to high rates of turnover. But toxic stress can be addressed, safe learning environments can be established, and teachers can be supported to achieve high rates of retention. Learn how from pioneering charter schools. 

Academics and SEL: Striking the Optimal Balance

With the new ESSA legislation, schools have the opportunity to establish non-academic goals. While the MDE is working to provide guidance for schools in this regard, some charters are already in the process of incorporating SEL learning opportunities and SEL-rich experiences into their programs and curricula. In their view, SEL is not an after-thought to academics, but a necessary foundation for academic achievement. Learn how charter innovators are enriching both SEL and academic opportunities for students. 

11:45 – 1:30 p.m.

Lunch and networking

Panel discussion

Ember Riechgott Junge & Bob Wedl

1:30 – 3 p.m.

Concurrent sessions:

Engaging Every Student through Personalized Learning

Personalized learning is often associated with informational technology and blended learning, which indeed offer new ways to engage students in individually appropriate ways. But personalized learning is not new, and there are a wide variety of ways to provide it. Many of these can be implemented simultaneously, so that they work synergistically (both with each other and with generalized instruction). While there’s no one right recipe, you can learn from some master chefs in this workshop. 

Building Effective Teams for School Success

Leadership and effective teamwork are essential for school success. This 1.5 hour workshop led by will focus on building and honing your personal leadership skills, working effectively as a team, and identifying best practices from high performing charters and other high performing orgnaizations. This will be an interactive session and is best if attended by at least 2 team members.

Developing a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion

Students learn better within safe and supportive environments, where they interact with peers from diverse backgrounds. Yet sociologists tell us that it’s normal for people to associate with others from backgrounds similar to their own. So how can we stretch our student’s comfort zones? How can we create vibrant learning environments where stereotypes are questioned, judgments are left aside, and difference is the norm? Learn from some schools that do this — both well and . . . differently!

Affordable Care Act update: What You Need To Know for 2016

With the completion of the 2015 Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements, employers must now address what needs to be done for 2016. This session will provide an update to the 2016 employer reporting requirements and help you develop a pro-active strategy for compliance and documentation.  

3:10 – 4 p.m.

Concurrent sessions:

Technology Bang for the Buck – Telecom, E-Rate, and More

Are you unsure if your school is maximizing the value in technology spending? Are you aware of the recent changes in E-Rate? This session will educate on new technologies associated with telecommunication as it relates to landline and wireless. It will also provide fundamentals regarding common billing errors and discrepancies including tax exemptions and E-rate discounting.  

Governance as Leadership

"[Operating in fiduciary mode is] essential but if that is all a board does, its focus is to prevent trouble rather than promote success”  – Richard Chiat, William Ryan and Barbara Taylor.
A good board knows the balance of fiduciary, strategic, and generative leadership. This session will explore how a board can effectively exercise its fiduciary responsibilities, but also lead the organization to fulfill its full mission and strategic priorities. 

Dual Enrollment: Challenges and Opportunities

Most high schools have students who enroll in PSEO courses. Many offer AP, IB, or Concurrent Enrollment courses (a.k.a. College in the Schools at UM), taught by high school teachers on campus. Some help students prepare for and take CLEP tests. All of these are part of the Dual Enrollment landscape, enabling high school students to simultaneously earn high school and college credits. But each has its pros and cons, and some face changes that could limit their future availability. Learn about the opportunities and challenges from staff from charter schools and the Center for School Change.  

How Are Charter Schools Closing the Education Gap?

We’re all concerned about the education gap, particularly in Minnesota, where it’s especially wide and persistent. But what exactly is it? Is it about certain types of students (or our inability to support and engage them)? Is it about the outcomes and capacities we choose to measure (or the way we measure them)? (For example, the gap would be inverted if our focus were on SEL.) Whatever it is, how can we best address it—not just in one way, but in many? Learn from charter schools taking innovative and successful approaches.

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Closing keynote by Don Shalvey, Gates Foundation

Don Shalvey is a deputy director on the K-12 Education team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to joining the foundation, Shalvey was the Founder and CEO of Aspire Public Schools, and has spent the past 40 years in public educations where he is widely recognized as a leader in public school reform and the charter school movement. Shalvey has deep experience in a variety of public school systems, launched the first independent charter school in California, and has served as a teacher, principal, superintendent, education entrepreneur at points throughout his career. 

Reception: Celebrating 25 Years of Charter Education