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"If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get."
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 11 November 2018  

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  July BOE meeting wrap-up
  By Lindsey Harrison

   All members of the El Paso County Colorado School District 49 Board of Education were present at the July meeting, except Kevin Butcher, treasurer, who was absent with prior notice.
   
   Chief officers’ update
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said work during the summer on 3B ballot measure projects moved quickly. He also said the new buses, each equipped with seat belts for the students, have started arriving.
   
   Open forum
   Several people spoke in favor of the Auto Institute of Science and Technology, a newly proposed charter school in the district, including Chris Chesney, senior director of customer assistance for Advanced Auto Parts. He said he has garnered support within the automotive industry for the new education plan, and would ultimately like to support more than 30 schools like this nationwide within the next 10 years.
   
   Greg Bunch, owner of Aspen Auto Clinic, said the AIST will provide an opportunity for students to learn a trade that will allow them to earn a decent wage, sometimes higher than other students who earn a college degree. “This real-world experience is a game-changer for the community and the automotive industry,” he said.
   
   Marie LaVere-Wright, president, thanked Chesney for choosing D 49 as a partner for the new automotive education plan.
   
   Action items
   
   The board unanimously approved the following:
  • A memorandum of understanding with the Colorado Digital Board of Cooperative Education Services to provide compensation to D 49 for the chief business officer’s time working with the CDBOCES
  • Revisions to the following board policies and procedures: executive sessions; public participation at board meetings; handbooks and directives; facilities funding; bond campaigns; curriculum development; gifted education; English language learner; academic achievement; and weighted grading
  • A resolution for official notice of intent to participate in the 2018 coordinated election and appointment of Donna Garza, board executive assistant, as the designated election official
  • Recommended targets, standards and evidence for chief officer evaluations and goal-setting
  • Adjustment to the educational support staff pay schedule to assign certain positions to different pay ranges
  • A disclosure accepting and waiving the conflict of interest based on D 49’s representation by Miller Farmer Law LLC and its affiliation with Tagg Education LLC

   The board unanimously approved the charter school application for AIST (Auto Institute of Science and Technology)
   
   The board also unanimously approved revisions to the student rights and responsibilities handbook. Lou Fletcher, culture and services director, said the English and Spanish versions of the handbook were not equivalent; the revisions will fix the issue.
   
   Discussion items
   Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, said the district has undergone conversions of the main operating systems for the finance and education departments. The old systems had been in place for more than 14 years, he said.
   
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said the conversion was necessary; although, there may be some disruption as staff will have to adjust to the new systems; but it will not negatively impact the district.
   
   Heather Diaz, senior accountant for D 49, said district administration will make sure there is no delay for staff to receive their paychecks when the new systems are in place in August. She said this system will also allow parents to pay all schools fees, including lunch purchases, from the same website.
   
   Matt Willhelm, project manager with Wember Inc., updated the board on the district’s 3B project list, and said 60 projects were completed at 17 schools over summer break.
   
   Dave Cruson, secretary, said he was concerned that the safe entries had not been constructed at Stetson Elementary School as of the meeting. Willhelm said the safe entries will be completed before the start of the school year.
   
   Hilts and Amber Whetstine, executive director of learning services, updated the board on mastery-based graduation requirements. Hilts said new Colorado graduation requirements necessitate that all students demonstrate a mastery of English language arts and math, as opposed to the former course-based graduation model. The options to demonstrate mastery include mastery by exam, successful completion of college level course work, workforce certification or a capstone experience, which is a multifaceted assignment that demonstrates mastery of the subject, he said. D 49 has already implemented the mastery-based model of graduation requirements, Hilts said.
   
   Whetstine said the district is helping to guide students as they plan for careers or college. An event is planned for Oct. 3 for all eighth-grade students in D 49. The event, “Pathways 23,” will explain the new mastery-based model and all the pathway options available through the D 49 portfolio of schools.
   
   Additionally, Whetstine said the district is eligible to receive Title IV funds, part of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, provided by the U.S. Department of Education. The funds support developments with pathway planning for students.
   
   Ridgway presented information on the proposed ballot language for the Nov. 6 ballot measure. The measure would lower property tax rates and freeze it at the new level, he said.
   
   “The plan is a restructuring of the 2014 3A mill levy override from a fixed dollar amount to a fixed rate,” he said. “This will give us the flexibility to lower that figure for homeowners and pair the redefined 3A mill levy override with 2016’s 3B mill levy override into a combined flat rate of 18.5 mills moving forward.”
   
   He said the 2005 mill levy, which was set at a fixed amount, means the district is only able to collect a certain amount of money. “Our assessed value will have doubled from the 2005 value; but, with the cap, rather than a fixed rate; we are not able to collect the full amount,” Ridgway said.
   
   The board selected John Graham, vice president, as the delegate for the Colorado Association of School Boards’ delegate assembly. Hilts said the district needs to have a voice at the assembly regarding equitable funding for online students, since D 49 is leading the way in the state with online students through the GOAL Academy.
   
   The board entered into an executive session to receive legal advice about a request to hear a stakeholder grievance. No action was taken at that time.
   
   Following the executive session, the board reconvened and denied the request for the hearing.
   
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is Aug. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the D 49 Education Services Center.
  
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  Marijuana tax provides funds for Safe2Tell
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Aug. 24, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law House Bill 18-1434, which appropriates $164,920 from the marijuana tax cash fund to the Safe2Tell program. The new law goes into effect Aug. 8.
   
   According to the Safe2Tell website, the program was created following the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado; it aims “to provide an anonymous venue for parents, students, teachers, school administrator, and law enforcement to share information.”
   
   The program has received tips ranging from suicide threats, planned school attacks, sexual assault, vandalism and child abuse to bullying, unsafe driving and fighting. In February, the program received 2,292 total reports, with 295 planned school attacks reports and 261 suicide threat reports. The website states that the total represents a 157 percent increase from February 2017.
   
   HB18-1434 outlines new duties for the Safe2Tell program including the following: "requiring the Safe2Tell program to prepare an annual report that analyzes data from the program and makes recommendations on improving the program.”
   
   Safe2Tell is now a funded program of the Colorado Department Law, Office of the Attorney General.
   
   According to the bill, the Safe2Tell program must use the funds to provide additional training and support for both schools and law enforcement on how to reduce the occurrence of false reporting or misuse in the program. The additional training and support will include educational materials appropriate for preschool, elementary and secondary schools, according to the bill.
   
   Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said using money from the marijuana tax fund was decided, in part, because there appears to be a link between the types of reports received by Safe2Tell and the reports of marijuana use seen throughout the state. “We get a lot of reports about substance abuse or drug abuse at parties,” she said.
   
   The money will allow the Safe2Tell program to be more visible to the public and provide training in schools, Coffman said.
   
   “The number of reports (to Safe2Tell) has gone up every year,” she said. “It stretches our staff to be able to actually come out and talk to the schools, but we do know that whenever we go out and do training, the number of reports increases because kids are learning that they can use the program and have their identity protected.”
   
   HB18-1434 also requires Safe2Tell to submit an annual report to the Colorado General Assembly that includes the following:
  • the outcomes and actions taken based on reports made to Safe2Tell
  • the number of reports broken down into categories
  • the total number of misuse reports, including the number of times the reporting party used the program’s reporting system to make a threat against or harm another person
  • the number of reports involving a single incident; the number of times the reporting party was in crisis and made the report to get help, including the time it took to identify the person and respond to the report
  • the efficacy of the program’s dispatch center
  • recommended improvements to the program based on the data available

   Coffman said the money will help keep the conversation about Safe2Tell going. “It is positive when we can talk about prevention and early intervention for kids because it really creates a model that educates kids to take care of not only themselves but their school and community,” she said. “I have to think that carries over to adulthood, creating good adults and citizens.”
  
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