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“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
– Henry David Thoreau  
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  Volume No. 14 Issue No. 10 October 2017  

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  March BOE meeting wrap-up
  By Lindsey Harrison

   All members were present at the Falcon School District 49 Board of Education regular meeting in March, except Kevin Butcher, treasurer, who was absent with prior notice. Jacob Hans from Sand Creek High School also attended as a member of the student board of representatives.
   
   Before the meeting, the BOE held a “Fantastic 49” event and recognized Wendi Sidney, learning services administrative assistant, for her dedication and work with the district’s primary literacy initiative. The board also recognized Jim Withrow, manager of the Safeway grocery store at Powers Boulevard and Constitution Avenue in Colorado Springs. His store donated $10,000 to Sand Creek High School. Additionally, the BOE recognized Mary Ann Wilson, cheer coach at Falcon High School, for her dedication to the school and being named the Colorado Coed Spirit Coach of the Year by the coaches association of the National Federation of State High School Associations.
   
   Board update
   Marie LaVere-Wright said the board wanted to express their sincere sense of loss at the passing of two district employees from the transportation department in February.
   
   David Moore, vice president, said he is moving to South Carolina, and this meeting is his last. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve on this board,” he said. Moore’s fellow directors expressed their gratitude for his service to the district.
   
   Chief officer update
   Jack Bay, chief operations officer, said construction on the lower floor of the office complex in the warehouse near the bus barn is complete and the department is waiting on the final inspection.
   
   Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, said a group of about 36 teachers representing each school have been working on the teacher compensation priority from ballot measure 3B that was passed in November 2016.
   
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, thanked Moore for his service: “Thank you for being the heart and soul of the board for all these years.”
   
   Student board update
   Hans said the student board of representatives has been meeting monthly and discussing the future of their board.
   
   Action items
   The board unanimously approved the following:
  • New/revised job descriptions for the following: internal communications manager; digital communications manager; accompanist; and home-based education specialist
  • Course proposals at Vista Ridge High School for the following: applied algebra 1; applied algebra 2; applied geometry; basic statistics; business math; conceptual physics; and Russian language and culture
  • Revisions to the following policies: board member conflict of interest; voting method; board member compensation and expenses/insurance/liability; records retention; early graduation; response to intervention; administering medications to students; first aid and emergency medical care; and public conduct on district property
  • Proposals for standard level international baccalaureate chemistry and physics courses at Sand Creek High School
  • Proposed 2018-2019 BOE meeting dates

   Discussion items
   David Knoche, executive principal at the Pikes Peak Early College, and Andy Franko, iConnect zone leader, updated the board on the zone’s performance. Knoche said the priority is to provide actionable data and feedback about the online/blended learning program to see how well it is working. To do this, the zone’s administration conducted 245 walk-throughs in the various schools during the first semester alone, he said. That data will then be used for strategic planning to set goals and targets for instructional focus.
   
   Knoche also provided an update on the 2016 fall semester at PPEC, and said the school has an 87-percent college course success rate, with a 21-percent increase in student college readiness from one semester to the next.
   
   Additionally, Knoche presented information on the zone’s ACT Aspire results, which are intended to assess student readiness in English, math, reading, science and writing from grades three through eight. “We are seeing an upward trend and getting closer to the benchmarks,” he said. “These scores give us guidance to guide instruction; they are no predictors of ACT scores.”
   
   Franko presented the early literacy results for his zone, as well as an update on construction of the new facility for the Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy, which he said is on schedule. Todd Morse has been hired to head up the BLPA, he said.
   
   The Colorado Military Academy had a change in school leadership, and has met more than 50 percent of the intent-to-enroll numbers that the school needs, Franko said. “We expect to bring the (charter school) contract to the next regular board meeting,” he said.
   
   Ron Sprinz, finance group manager, presented information on the 2017-2018 budget, and said there is not much change from the last update.
   
   Ridgway provided an update on priority No. 2 from ballot measure 3B, which is to refresh and refurbish existing facilities throughout the district. The mill levy oversight committee has spent time evaluating the proposals from all the zones to decide which projects to focus on, he said. Bay said, “We should have the final designs within each zone’s budget to get approved in the next few weeks.”
   
   LaVere-Wright discussed the development of BOE goals, spearheaded by Butcher and John Graham, board director. They provided a summary of things they felt would be helpful for serving on the board, she said.
   Hilts suggested enlisting the help of veteran board members to describe the necessary functions as a board member to newly elected/appointed directors, and Graham said he felt staff input was a necessary component that was missing from the current summary.
   
   The board agreed to discuss member engagement and outreach guidelines at the April 13 BOE meeting.
   
   Other business
   Moore submitted his official resignation from the BOE, which prompted a discussion about the need to fill that vacancy. The board agreed to set April 7 as the due date for applications, and discussed the appointment process.
   
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is April 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the D 49 Education Services Center.
  
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  Two D 49 schools receive health awards
  By Lindsey Harrison

   The Colorado Education Initiative Healthy School Champions program recognized Falcon School District 49’s Woodmen Hills Elementary and Stetson Elementary with an Excellence Award and a Promising School Award, respectively. Woodmen Hills received $500 and Stetson received $300.
   
   According to the CEI’s website, “The Healthy School Champions Program recognizes Colorado schools for their success at creating a healthy school environment, implementing effective school health efforts and demonstrating how they comprehensively address health and wellness while embedding it in their culture and systems.”
   
   Kelly Baun, a fourth-grade teacher at WHES, said the school has a committee of staff, parents and students that lead activities and programs to promote health and wellness throughout the school and the community. “Some of the things we have done in the past three or four years include using GoNoodle, an online brain-breaks activity that all teachers use,” she said. “We also started a morning walking club two days per week. That is free so that opens it up to all of our students. Every Wednesday and Friday mornings, we walk a mile. Students, teachers and parents join in.”
   
   Baun said her school has also started a garden club for fourth-and-fifth-graders. Twelve to 15 students will learn how to grow fruit and vegetable gardens, along with the nutritional benefits their produce brings to them. With grant money the school received, the students will be putting up hail netting around each bed as well, she said.
   
   Students also have access to hydration stations throughout the main building and in the modular unit as well, Baun said. Teachers can enjoy a water bar once per quarter — water is infused with fruits or spices. Hot On Yoga in Colorado Springs allows staff to take free classes using their district identification, she said.
   
   “This is our fourth year working at creating health and wellness in the school and the third year we have applied for the Healthy School Champions award,” Baun said. “We have won each time we applied. The first year, we won $300 and last year, we won $500. We just keep making more and more improvements.”
   
   Matthew Monfre, physical education teacher at Stetson Elementary, said his school has also won multiple awards from the Healthy School Champions program, totaling $2,100 over the last four years. “It is a team effort, with the staff and administration promoting being healthy and being physically active,” Monfre said.
   
   Students at SES participate in GoNoodle and other brain-break activities, and teachers are jumping onboard with flexible seating in the classrooms, he said. “We have ball chairs and balance disks, and teachers try to structure their class so that students have to get up and move around the room,” Monfre said. “That is a key point; the students are constantly moving, not just in P.E. class or recess.”
   
   The Fuel Up to Play 60 program is another aspect of the overall health and wellness plan the school has implemented. According to the program’s website, “Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the National Dairy Council and the NFL (National Football League), in collaboration with the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), to help encourage today’s youth to lead healthier lives.”
   
   SES also has a morning walking club, after-school garden club; and provides a healthy breakfast and lunch, available to all students, Monfre said. By using a questionnaire to evaluate where the school’s strengths and weaknesses are in the arena of health and wellness, SES can then work to improve the areas identified.
   
   “We have set up a school health improvement plan that is a collaborative effort by the school’s wellness team, the staff, students, parents and the community,” Monfre said.
   
   Both Baun and Monfre said their respective schools plan to continue their efforts to bringing health and wellness to their students, staff, parents and community, which will hopefully pay off through the Healthy School Champions program in future years.
  
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  CEO COLUMN
  Learning from teacher leaders
  By Peter Hilts
  Chief education officer

   In District 49, we are committed to earn the choice of students, parents and colleagues. Every time a parent chooses to enroll in D 49, we are honored. Every student who chooses a team or contributes to a classroom is a source of pride. Those parents and students do not arrive or stay in District 49 because we have the fanciest buildings or the fastest busses — even though we have fantastic facilities and tremendous services. They don’t choose us because we win the most championships or send the most students to elite universities — even though our students earn trophies, applause and admission to service academies and selective universities every year. Even though District 49 is on the rise in all these areas and more, our community tells us, year after year, that they love our teachers above all.
   
   As leaders in our district, principals and other administrators want to earn the satisfaction of our community. But no matter how popular a principal might become or how much expertise an administrator provides, they will never match the personal impact of teachers and other classroom educators. Teachers in District 49 lead the way. They are our first line of support for students, and the final demonstration of district performance. Recently, our board of education has featured teachers and classroom educators as honorees during Fantastic 49, our monthly recognition event. During the first month of this new year, our community celebrated Bobby Odom, a paraprofessional who supports students with specific learning disabilities at Falcon Elementary. As his principal observed, “Bobby goes above and beyond to support students.”
   
   In February, we honored a group of elementary students who were sponsored by amazing teachers. Ingrid Daniel, from Stetson Elementary, presented student vocalist Tailor F., who shared a song with the board and audience. From Remington Elementary, kindergarten teacher Bonnie Bonser introduced Laiyla B., a kindergartner who became the youngest person to achieve such recognition in District 49. Laiyla warmed our hearts by sharing that she likes school because, “I like to make friends and be nice.” To close the event, teacher Ashley Bergland from Odyssey Elementary introduced and affirmed Natalia Roach for her “courageous leadership” and “contagious passion.” To round out the individual recognition, Lani Bryan, who teaches at Springs Ranch Elementary, celebrated Madison N. for her overall academic leadership and brilliance in the Battle of the Books competition.
   
   The celebration of students lifted up our young learners, but the lever that lifted those children to recognition was the servant heart of dedicated teacher leaders. We finished the recognition event with a group of students from Falcon Elementary who introduced Drums Alive! — a multi-sensory program where students and adults drum on exercise balls to driving music and choreography from teacher Melissa Ardolf. Even a childlike board member joined in.
   
   Bringing out the best in our students is the high calling and deep commitment of every teacher in District 49. It is a privilege to learn from their example and become students ourselves of the way they challenge and build up the children of our community. There is evidence all around that District 49 is rising toward peak performance, and the greatest data points of all fill our classrooms and schools with the honored title of, “Teacher.” If you see one, thank one.
  
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