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“In my desperation, I have finally discovered that the only way that I can begin to fill the gaping hole within me is to be thankful for what’s there, and not angry for what’s not.”
– Craig D. Lounsbrough, author  
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  Volume No. 14 Issue No. 11 November 2017  

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  September BOE meeting wrap-up
  By Lindsey Harrison

   All members were present for the Falcon School District 49 Board of Education meeting in September. Athena Espiritu from the Pikes Peak Early College and Lexi Boone from Falcon High School were also present as members of the student board of representatives.
   
   Before the regular meeting, the BOE held a “Fantastic 49” event and met the 18 high school students volunteering for the student board.
   
   Board update
   John Graham, vice president, attended the special education advisory council’s annual picnic Sept. 23.
   
   Kevin Butcher, treasurer, attended a conference in Washington, D.C. with the Economic Development Council of Colorado, and the No. 1 topic discussed was workforce development and how education will play a role. “We are so far ahead of the game, compared to what is out there,” he said.
   
   Marie LaVere-Wright, president, attended the Bennett Ranch Elementary School groundbreaking ceremony.
   
   Dave Cruson, director, attended the POWER Zone barbecue and wanted to thank the students at Vista Ridge High School for all the work they put into it.
   
   Chief officer update
   Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, said the Colorado Department of Education was working on new language for their transportation regulations, which D 49 did not favor. Testimonies from Jack Pietraallo, D 49 transportation director, and Amy Attwood, district lobbyist, played a large part in preventing the regulations from being approved, Ridgway said.
   
   Action items
   The board unanimously approved
  • A 2016-2017 supplemental budget for the nutritional services fund to account for revenue sources and related expenditures that were unexpected
  • Formal approval of a three-year master lease purchase agreement with Apple Inc. for about 1,000 MacBook Air laptop computers for the educational staff
  • Review of policies: safe schools; school board meeting; minutes; qualifications/responsibilities of chief officers; school closings; security/access to buildings; service animals; inter-district choice; student dress code; violent and aggressive behavior; secret societies/gang activity; extracurricular activity eligibility; student discipline; use of physical intervention and restraint; suspension/expulsion of students; expulsion prevention; and student fees and fines
  • Fine-tuning of job descriptions for human resources director; purchasing and contracts manager; and community and facility planning manager
  • Re-drafting of job description for risk and benefits manager; business office generalist; and senior systems and data analyst
  • Revisions to policies for staff sick and personal leave; and staff absences
  • The repeal of the Preamble to Policies of the D 49 BOE; board member code of conduct for individual meetings with district staff
  • A resolution supporting Constitution Day on 9-18-17
  • A job description for a before-and-after-school site aide
  • The transportation department organization chart, and the addition of a professional-technical position
  • Designation of Oct. 24 as the official impact aid survey date for the 2017-2018 school year

   Discussion items
   Ron Lee, director of 3B mill levy override capital construction, provided an overview of on-going 3B projects. According to data from Wember Inc., the district’s general contractor, all projects are on time and under budget.
   
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said the design for improvements at VRHS required some adjustments.
   
   Andy Franko, iConnect Zone leader, provided a performance update for his zone, and said charter school enrollment accounts for 36 percent of the total student population. “The schools in the iConnect Zone serving elementary students are doing very well in our primary literacy initiative,” he said. Franko also highlighted successes from the charter schools within the district.
   
   Ron Sprinz, finance group manager, provided an enrollment update and said the ALLIES (Academy for Literacy, Learning and Innovation Excellence) program at Odyssey Elementary School had to be capped at 90 students instead of 150 because of issues with the program’s building.
   
   The charter schools are expected to hit their budgeted enrollment numbers; Sprinz said he has not determined if the Colorado Military Academy’s enrollment is affecting enrollment at other charter schools.
   
   Paul Andersen, director of human resources, provided his department’s annual report. Currently, the district has 81 administrators and about 19,000 students, he said.
   
   Hilts said grants pay some of the administrators’ salaries, and the district took that into account when they developed their student-to-administrator ratio. The administration’s workload is still increasing, and Hilts recommended periodically reviewing information from human resources to ensure the administrative staff is not stretched too thin.
   
   Andersen said the overall trend is that more administrator positions are being funded by sources other than the district’s general fund.
   
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is Oct. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the D 49 Education Services Center.
  
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  Patriot culinary students host senior luncheons
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Sept. 13, students in the culinary arts program at Patriot High School prepared the meal for the Falcon Senior Services monthly luncheon. The luncheon, previously held at the Meridian Point Church in Falcon, has been staged in the gymnasium at PHS for the second month in a row.
   
   Eric Lustig, PHS teacher of culinary arts, business and math, said the PHS culinary arts program is broken into two sections: beginning and advanced. About 22 students are currently enrolled in the program, which incorporates a business and math curriculum as well, he said.
   
   “We were catering the luncheon at the church, and it became such a hassle to get the students there so we decided to bring the seniors here,” Lustig said.
   
   The students prepared a meal of brisket, chili and coleslaw; and the seniors brought a variety of side dishes and desserts. The students and seniors sat down and ate lunch together.
   
   The luncheon also featured a presentation by Shallyn McDonald, a physical therapist from Black Forest, on how to manage arthritis. Seniors could take chances on several door prizes as well.
   Catherine Reed, FSS members, said she enjoys the luncheon every month. “These are wonderful kids,” she said. “They are going out into the world with all the knowledge to be chefs.”
  
(From left to right): Falcon Senior Services members Lynda Carner, Jim Carner, Don Watts, Winona Watts and Marlene Cannon take a break from eating to have their picture taken at the September luncheon. Photos by Lindsey Harrison
 
The September Falcon Senior Services luncheon, catered by Patriot High School culinary arts students, drew a large crowd of seniors who feasted on home-made brisket and chili, among other items.
 
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  New D 49 elementary school groundbreaking
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Aug. 25, members of the community, the Falcon School District 49 staff and the D 49 Board of Education gathered at the Bennett Ranch Elementary School construction site for a groundbreaking ceremony. The site is north of Falcon Middle School at 9755 Towner Ave.
   
   Funding for BRES is a result of ballot measure 3B, approved by voters in November 2016.
   
   The school’s name harkens back to the Bennett family, whose ranch was situated on the land that is now the D 49 Falcon Zone. Members of the Bennett family shared the connection between Hugh and Josie Bennett and the rodeo circuit, which prompted the adoption of the bull as the school’s mascot.
   
   Sue Holmes, Falcon Zone leader, said, “Just as the Bennett Ranch family story changed over time, education is evolving, too. The new elementary school’s close proximity to Falcon Middle School will allow us to share staff and resources, being less of a cost for the community.”
   
   BRES is scheduled to open in August 2018.
  
Groundbreaking D 49: Dirt flies as members of the Falcon School District 49 community break ground on the new Bennett Ranch Elementary School behind a sign from the original Bennett Ranch. (From left to right) Marie LaVere-Wright, BOE president; Brian Smith, executive principal of the Firebird Nation campus; Dave Cruson, BOE director; Sue Holmes, Falcon Zone leader; Peter Hilts, chief education officer; and Kevin Butcher, BOE treasurer. Photo submitted
 
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