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CCS meets standards in 12 of 15 areas assessed

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The Crosslake Community School (CCS) Board received results of an operations performance evaluation conducted by the Audubon Center of the North Woods (ACNW) - Charter School Division, according to draft minutes from the board's June 16 meeting.

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ACNW is a private, nonprofit 501c3 organization with a focus on environmental education. The organization authorizes charter schools that "have recognized the importance of experiential and environmental education," according to its website. CCS is one of 32 schools statewide the organization evaluates.

ACNW evaluates school compliance with legal requirements, charter contract, principles of governance and overall operation in accordance with the organization's mission.

CCS met standards in 12 of 15 areas assessed, based upon performance from the 2012-13 school year and fiscal year (FY) 2014.

The three areas where the school did not meet standards were board composition and capacity, admissions and enrollment, and compliance and reporting.

Compliance and reporting is the one area that needs immediate attention before renewal of the contract with ACNW is possible. CCS lacks insurance coverage "related to claims arising out of the release or threatened release of a hazardous substance." This lack of coverage "causes potential liability that is material to the viability of the school," according to the evaluation.

School director Todd Lyscio said by email June 23 he has been in contact with the school's insurance carrier within the past two weeks to discuss the need to make changes to the policy.

"We should be in good shape once we complete that process," he said.

In admissions and enrollment, CCS does publish an Equal Education Opportunity policy on its website. To meet requirements, however, the school must also develop and post policies related to its enrollment and lottery process on its website. Currently, the school has information about the lottery process only on its application form.

When it comes to board composition and capacity, ACNW noted the school approaches the standard, but has some work to do. The board "could use additional expertise" in financial oversight, according to the evaluation, and "does not have a clear plan in place to address the ongoing training requirements outlined in statute."

According to the evaluation, CCS demonstrates commitment to environmental education and the community in several ways: The school assists the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources with planting trees, works with the Army Corps of Engineers on water quality testing, cleans up trash in the community and is a local recycling drop-off site for items such as plastic bottles, ink cartridges and cell phones.

CCS also participates annually in a fundraiser with Green Sneakers, a nonprofit organization that collects used sneakers for people in need around the globe while assisting with fundraising goals.

The school also met standards in instruction and student assessment, compliance with educational requirements, implementation of special education programs, parental and student satisfaction, school board decision-making and oversight, management accountability, facilities and transportation, health and safety, due process and privacy, staff licensure and retention and appropriate hiring, evaluation and termination practices.

In other business, the school board:

• Approved a 2 percent increase in 2014-15 salaries and hourly wages for all employees.

• Approved a 2014-15 catering contract with Maucieri's Catering and set meal prices at $3 per student.

• Set the FY 2015 unreserved fund balance at 23 percent of the overall budget.

• Hired Doug Moan for the available custodial position.

• Hired Jen Miller as a full-time technology and assessment coordinator for the 2014-15 school year and for 16 hours per week for the remainder of the summer.

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Chelsey Perkins
Chelsey Perkins grew up in Crosslake and is a graduate of Pequot Lakes High School. She earned her Bachelor's degree in professional journalism from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Perkins has interned at the Lake Country Echo and the Rochester and Austin Post-Bulletins and also worked for the student-run Minnesota Daily newspaper as a copy editor and columnist during college. She went on to intern at Utne Reader magazine, where she was later hired as the research editor. Before joining the Brainerd Dispatch, Perkins worked as a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal.
(218) 855-5874
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