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“New year — a new chapter, new verse or just the same old story? Ultimately, we write it. The choice is ours.”
– Alex Morritt, author  
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 1 January 2019  

None Black Forest News   None Book Review   None Business Briefs   None Community Calendar  
None Community Photos   None Did You Know?   None FFPD Column   None FFPD News  
None From the Publisher   None Health and Wellness   None Marks Meanderings   None Monkey Business  
None News Briefs   None News From D 49   None People on the Plains   None Pet Care  
None Phun Photos   None Prairie Life   None Rumors  
Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In
  December BOE meeting wrap-up
  By Lindsey Harrison

   All members of the Falcon School District 49 Board of Education were present for the December meeting, with vice president John Graham attending via phone. Rachel Washburn from Sand Creek High School and Adrielle Baker from Vista Ridge High School were present as members of the student board of representatives.
   Before the regular meeting, the BOE held a “Fantastic 49” event, and recognized members of the local military for their partnership support with the district (see article on this page).
   Board update
   Dave Cruson, director, cited the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which left 28 people dead, including 20 elementary school students and six adult staff members.
   “Educators give of themselves not only to educate our children, but to protect them as well,” he said.
   Kevin Butcher, treasurer, thanked Matt Meister, who has left the district for another job, for his service to the district. A local homeowner’s neighborhood organization has invited BOE members from the nearby school districts to help determine how to better the community and neighborhoods, Butcher said.
   John Graham also thanked Meister for his hard work and dedication to the district.
   Chief officer update
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, thanked Meister: “Your energy, professionalism and teamwork was highly appreciated.”
   Student board of representatives update
   Washburn said she and other students made hot chocolate in a jar for the district’s bus drivers as a gift for the holidays.
   Action items
   The board unanimously approved the following:
  • Policy reviews for the school board and meetings; vacation, holiday and sick leave; educational support staff salary schedules, schedules and calendars
  • Revisions to policies for site selection and acquisition; staff job descriptions; and professional staff positions
  • Revision of the transportation route coordinator job description to transportation router
  • Revision of the maintenance technician job description to electrician
  • The following new job descriptions: reading specialist at Patriot High School; transportation training supervisor; and zone custodial lead
  • The three-year program approval for the Entrepreneur Service Capstone Project at Falcon High School, an alternate path for students to meet graduation requirements
  • The new computer science essentials course proposal for VRHS and SCHS
  • The new irrigation tech 1 and irrigation tech 2 course proposals for FHS
  • Certification of a mill levy totaling 43.648 mills to property owners within the district for property tax year 2017
  • The 2018-2019 school family calendar and preliminary approval of the 2019-2020 school family calendar
  • The Student Data Transparency and Security Act, pertaining to a student’s personal information, which must be approved to remain in compliance with the Colorado Data Transparency and Security Act’s deadline of Dec. 31, 2017

   Discussion items
   Erika Siemieniec, business and mathematics teacher at SCHS, presented information on a new advanced business course proposal at SCHS. The board moved this to an action item for a later date.
   Cale Csizmadi, with the VRHS science department, presented information on a new college preparatory chemistry course proposal for VRHS. He said the class will be weighted like an honors course to allow students to earn the same GPA as honors courses. The board moved this to an action item for a later date.
   Csizmadi also presented information on a proposed change to the name of the honors biology course to college preparatory biology at VRHS. This class would also follow the same weighted grading scale, he said. The board moved this to an action item for a later date.
   Matt Wilhlem, project manager with Wember Inc., updated the board on the progress of the district’s 3B project list. He said there are three schools left to receive the safe entry installation, and the building addition at SHCS should be done by mid-January.
   Wilhelm said the basketball court at Remington Elementary School that was damaged because of age and the weight of the contractor’s equipment was replaced with funds from both the district and the contractor.
   The district held a steel-raising ceremony for Bennett Ranch Elementary School.
   Paul Andersen, director of human resources, presented the follow-up report on the Voice of the Workforce annual engagement survey. The next step is action planning, which will take place at the BOE planning retreat in January.
   The board discussed the future of the Falcon Homeschool Enrichment Program’s location. Hilts said the idea of moving the program to the new facility on Vista del Pico in Banning Lewis Ranch until traditional students have filled it provides a level of uncertainty. “The question is not if we will fill the school but when, and we cannot accurately predict that with so many variables,” he said.
   Melissa Andrews, district planner, said there is potential for the new elementary school to include flexible spaces that could accommodate the FHEP, but it would require additional funds.
   Almeida said the additional amount of $1.4 million is currently available in the district’s contingency fund. Ridgway said that amount does not use half of what the district has budgeted into its contingency fund.
   The BOE agreed that the additional funds could be used for the modifications to the elementary school’s original plans; the item was moved to an action item at another meeting.
   Ridgway presented information on the district’s amended budget, and said he is tracking certain areas of the budget that keep changing, like the final per-pupil rate.
   Amber Whetstine, executive director of learning services, presented information on how the district could develop a more localized process for the accreditation process. Zone leaders are participating in the process but will eventually bring in feedback from principals at all levels.
   Ridgway presented information on a proposal the district received from a developer who had previously dedicated land for the district to build on. The land is not feasible to use for additional district facilities, which is why it has not yet been developed, he said. The developer offered the district funds to essentially buy back the land, and Ridgway said he thinks the offer is the best solution. The BOE slated this item for discussion at a later meeting.
   Andy Franko, iConnect zone leader, presented information about creating a charter contract agreement with Liberty Tree Academy. The board moved this to an action item at a later meeting.
   Following the regular meeting, the BOE held an executive session for discussion of the CEO evaluation and review. The board held a separate executive session to confer with the attorney to determine the need for a hearing on a stakeholder grievance matter. No action was taken during either session.
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom at the D 49 Education Services Center.
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  D 49 communications director returns to television
  By Lindsey Harrison

   The last day of the fall semester for Falcon School District 49 marked the end of Matt Meister’s time as the district’s director of communications. Meister started at D 49 in April 2014, trading his stint as a weather forecaster for the top communications job in the school district. At the beginning of January 2018, Meister will return to television broadcasting as the chief meteorologist for Fox 21.
   “My return to broadcasting will allow me to serve the community, which is important to me, but also to serve my wife and kids the best I can,” he said. “The balance between work and family life is something that many of us struggle with; and, ultimately, I am most accountable to my wife and kids.”
   Although Meister will no longer be part of the D 49 communications team, he said he will remain on the board of the Falcon Education Foundation and continue to serve the district.
   “I love D 49, and I will continue to champion for the students, the families, the people and the important work that is done here, as I go back to television,” he said. “There are a lot of really talented and dedicated people that serve the students of the district, and so it is not goodbye for me in any way.”
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  Santa’s Toy Express visits D 49
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Dec. 2, Falcon School District 49 held its 16th annual Santa’s Toy Express event at the district’s bus barn. This year, teachers, counselors and administrators nominated more than 50 D 49 students with special circumstances to participate in Santa’s Toy Express.
   The students enjoyed a hot breakfast before loading onto D 49 buses and heading out to purchase gifts at the Falcon Walmart for their families. A volunteer from several organizations accompanied each student, including student volunteers from D 49’s Horizon Middle School and the Springs Studio for Academic Excellence.
   After shopping, the students returned to the district’s bus barn and wrapped the gifts they purchased. The students also made Christmas ornaments and had their faces painted before visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus. They also received their own bag of gifts, which included a winter coat, gloves and toys.
   RJ Berry, Santa’s Toy Express coordinator and D 49 special needs bus driver, said the successful event would not have been possible without the help of sponsors like Walmart, Aspen Auto, Farmer’s State Bank, State Bank and the Falcon Community Builders for Classrooms. The FCBC donated homemade blankets for the students. Berry said it was all “just amazing."
Jesus Mendoza, age 5, proudly displays the ornaments he made during the Santa’s Toy Express event. Jesus said this was his favorite part of the day.
Amelia Skelton, age 6, listens to Mrs. Claus (Terry Maloney) as she describes the goodies in her gift bag. Santa (Jim DeGeorge) enjoys a short break before the next student jumps on his lap. Amelia was excited to see all her gifts and wanted to open them as soon as she returned home.
Kellow Reynolds, age 7, paints volunteer Gary Forney-George’s face during the Santa’s Toy Express event. Photos by Lindsey Harrison
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  Military partners recognized at D 49
  By Sam Dosen-Himelrick (D 49)

   Military partners were recognized during a special “Fantastic 49” presentation before the Falcon School District 49 regular Board of Education meeting Dec. 14.
   In 2016, District 49 was awarded a five year, $1.5 million grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), which will allow the district to improve social-emotional support through the implementation of restorative practices through the BRIGHT initiative. Recently, DoDEA awarded District 49 a second grant of $1 million to support the IGNITE initiative, which brings STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) activities to K-8 students. The military partners making the DoDEA grants possible were thanked and recognized during the Fantastic 49 presentation.
   “Partnerships with local military is paramount to our success,” said Lea Holland, BRIGHT project manager. “District 49 serves over 25 percent military and Department of Defense civilian families. The BRIGHT and IGNITE initiatives give the opportunity to work with military families during transitions.”
   Junior ROTC Cadet Lt. Col. Jalen Criss, from Sand Creek High School, kicked off the recognition with a cappella performance of the national anthem. Junior ROTC students from District 49 high schools introduced special guests, while the BOE president, Marie La Vere-Wright, presented plaques and personalized coins as a token of appreciation.
   Col. Jennifer Grant, commander 50th Space Wing, Air Force Space Command, at Schriever Air Force Base, was presented with a plaque for the base’s partnership with the district. “Anytime we have school districts, teachers and counselors who get involved with our young ones across the board and help them to become adaptive and resilient, there’s a lot of goodness there,” Grant said.
   Junior ROTC Cadet First Lt. Nicholas Benfiel, from Vista Ridge High School, presented, Col. Todd Moore with a plaque for the district’s partnership with Peterson Air Force Base.
   “It’s an honor to be here tonight,” Moore said. “As a parent, we’re commissioned to serve, but my kids ride along. It’s important for any school to know how important these moves are for children emotionally. I’m thankful D 49 is meeting those needs with these programs.”
   De’ Anzo Williams, school liaison officer with the Fort Carson military installation, accepted the recognition for the post’s partnership with the district. “I’m honored tonight to represent, as a parent and a liaison, for schools,” Williams said.
Military partners were recognized during a special “Fantastic 49” presentation before the Falcon School District 49 Board of Education meeting Dec. 14: (left to right) Jason Tiek, chief master sergeant, 50th Space Wing; Col. Jennifer Grant, commander 50th Space Wing, Air Force Space Command, at Schriever Air Force Base; Col. Todd Moore, Peterson Air Force Base; Mark Bronson, CMSgt, command chief, 21st Space Wing. Photo submitted
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