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"What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge; and not knowledge in the pursuit of the child."
– George Bernard Shaw  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 8 August 2018  

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  January BOE meeting wrap-up
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Three of the five members of the Falcon School District 49 Board of Education were present for the January meeting, including the newly appointed director, Josh Fry. John Graham, vice president, was absent; and Kevin Butcher, treasurer, was absent with prior notice. Athena Espiritu from the Pikes Peak Early College and Maria Danieli from the Springs Studio for Academic Excellence were also present as members of the student board of representatives.
   
   Before the regular meeting, the BOE held a “Fantastic 49” event and recognized four members of the district staff for their dedication and contributions.
   
   The board acknowledged Lisa Amthor, special education program specialist, for her knowledge of regulation compliance regarding individualized education plans; Fran Christensen, grants fiscal compliance manager, for her recent recommendation by the Colorado Department of Education for membership in the Association of Educational Federal Finance Administrators; Rachel Duerr, coordinator of health and wellness, for her contributions to wellness initiatives for both students and employees; and Heather Ullrich, language arts teacher and Junior Optimist International Club sponsor at Horizon Middle School, for her leadership of the JOI club and the school’s knowledge bowl team.
   
   Board update
   Dave Cruson, secretary, congratulated David Nancarrow for being selected as the district’s new director of communications.
   
   Fry thanked the board for welcoming him into their ranks.
   
   Chief officer update
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said he was proud to see members of his team continue to step up and get things done. He said progress is being made on addressing the district’s capacity issues and on projects across the district related to the 3B mill levy override funds.
   
   Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, said he presented his team’s style and process to Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab people, and he received good feedback.
   
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, expressed his gratitude for the financial model Ridgway and his team have developed.
   
   Hilts said, “I am very excited to introduce David Nancarrow, and I have the confidence that he will maintain our level of communications excellence.”
   
   Student board of representatives update
   Espiritu attended a Colorado Association of School Boards event at The Broadmoor, was able to bring back some ideas to D 49. One idea involves creating a college readiness program focused on mental preparedness.
   
   LaVere-Wright suggested that Espiritu work with Donna Richer, executive assistant to the board of education, to get her ideas placed on a future meeting agenda.
   
   Open forum
   Jennifer Johnson, leader of the Peak Partners Leadership Academy, said she is excited to be entering the academy’s third year. “Our goal is to encourage community members to get involved in the district,” she said.
   
   Action items
   The board unanimously approved the following:
  • Liberty Tree Academy’s charter contract
  • Policy reviews for food services; free and reduced-price lunch services; and nutritious food choices
  • The BOE meeting dates for the 2019-2020 school year
  • Priority improvement plans for Patriot High School and Power Technical Early College, which must be submitted to the CDE by Jan. 15
  • An advanced business course proposal for Sand Creek, Falcon and Vista Ridge High schools
  • Creation of a college preparatory chemistry course at VRHS
  • A course name change from honors biology to college preparatory biology at VRHS

   After a brief discussion, the board also approved a project cost adjustment for the Academy for Literacy, Learning and Innovation Excellence program at Odyssey Elementary School. Jim Rohr, purchasing manager, said the program is seeking a $265,000 budget increase to have greater flexibility when purchasing necessary items like furniture and fixtures. Ridgway said that money was already in the POWER zone’s budget for the ALLIES program but was not initially included in the project’s budget.
   
   Discussion items
   Nancy Lemmond, executive director of individualized education, and Paul Andersen, director of human resources, presented a proposal for tuition assistance for special educators. Andersen said the district is experiencing an increasing number of special educator vacancies; and, for the first time ever, is filling those vacancies with contractors rather than hiring permanent employees. Lemmond said the solution is to offer tuition assistance for licensed staff members in return for two years of service in a special education classroom.
   
   The board will continue discussions of the proposal at future BOE meetings.
   
   Ron Sprinz, finance group manager, presented information on the finalized per pupil rate variance for the 2017-2018 amended budget. The per pupil rate, which determines the district’s funding formula, went up from $7,226.17 per pupil to $7,315.06, he said.
   
   Sprinz also presented information on the 2017-2018 amended charter school budget which only required an update of each school’s student count and then factoring in the new per pupil rate.
   
   Ridgway said the district did well on their legal expenses in the 2017 calendar year. He said the administration’s recommendation is to continue the relationship with the firms the district currently uses.
   
   LaVere-Wright said, “About .1 percent of our budget goes to our legal fees.” The board unanimously agreed to continue the current legal strategy.
   
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom at the D 49 Education Services Center.
  
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  Falcon Zone strives to unite community
  By Lindsey Harrison

   In an effort to increase and improve communications between Falcon School District 49 and the community in the district’s Falcon Zone, a team of community members created the Falcon Zone Coalition about two years ago.
   
   Karen Hobson, one of the founding members of the coalition and an employee at Falcon Middle School, said the coalition is made up of representatives from the zone’s schools, local businesses and the community. “We work together to build the community, strengthen our schools and support our students,” she said.
   
   The Falcon Zone Coalition was part of an initiative started by the zone’s former leader, Julia Roark, Hobson said. “She wanted to help our schools better connect with the community in the Falcon Zone, in part by trying to connect with families who did not have kids in school anymore, businesses and the Falcon Zone community as a whole,” she said.
   
   Roark unexpectedly passed away following a traffic accident on Woodmen Road in April 2017; and the current zone leader, Sue Holmes, has picked up where Roark left off, Hobson said.
   
   Jennifer Johnson, a founding member of the coalition, said she wanted to create the coalition because she felt the district only connected with her when they wanted her to vote on something. She liked the idea of orchestrating a way to bring the entire Falcon Zone community together.
   
   Johnson, who also is a leader of the district’s Peak Partners Leadership Academy, said two years later, the coalition is still trying to hash out how to meet its goals.
   “We are trying to combine what we are doing in the leadership academy to grow volunteers and connect them with our zone coalition to reach the community better,” she said.
   
   According to the D 49 website, the PPLA is “an opportunity to learn about being a community leader, and being able to use their leadership skills at work and in their community. It’s an opportunity for an in-depth exploration of District 49’s organization and educational programs, inside and beyond the classroom, and its potential as a leader in public education.”
   
   In the coming months, Johnson said the community can expect to see the Falcon Zone Coalition reach out to businesses. “We will be saying, ‘Help us help you,’” she said. “We want the businesses to tell us what they need to communicate, collaborate and cooperate with us.”
   
   With that mission in mind, Hobson said the coalition is ready to start making progress on tangible things like student internship opportunities with local businesses and ways that businesses can sponsor and support the schools.
   
   “We want this to be a true partnership,” Hobson said.
  
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