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“Autumn is the time of year when Mother Nature says, ‘Look how easy, how healthy, and how beautiful letting go can be.’”
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 9 September 2018  

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  August BOE meeting wrap-up
  By Lindsey Harrison

   All members of the El Paso County Colorado School District 49 Board of Education were present except for Marie LaVere-Wright, president, and Joshua Frey, director, who were both absent with prior notice.
   
   Before the regular meeting, the BOE held a “Fantastic 49” event and recognized the Teacher of the Year selection from 17 schools: Laura Anderson, Meridian Ranch Elementary School; Jennifer Aubain, Springs Studio for Academic Excellence; Susan Beiner, Springs Ranch Elementary School; Layne Cerrone, Evans International Elementary School; Teresa Hinote, Academy for Literacy, Learning and Innovation Excellence; Sheila Kelly, Odyssey Elementary School; Karen Leonhardt, Horizon Middle School; Tami Lupton, Woodmen Hills Elementary School; Lori McCoy, Remington Elementary School; Lura Moore, Skyview Middle School; Nathan Pearsall, Vista Ridge High School; David Ritz, Stetson Elementary School; Adrianna Ryland, Pikes Peak Early College; Tim Scheck, Falcon Middle School; Katie Stafford, Ridgeview Elementary School; and Nathan Wood, Sand Creek High School.
   
   Each Teacher of the Year winner will compete for the state-level Teacher of the Year award, which will be announced in late 2018.
   
   Chief officers’ update
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said he and a team of D 49 staff trained 50 staff members in Ellicott School District 22 on restorative practices.
   
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said ALLIES and Bennett Ranch Elementary School are both fully up and running. “The beginning of the school year had lots of big transitions and the team is doing a superb job across the district,” he said.
   
   Action items
   The board unanimously approved the following:
  • Appointment of John Graham, vice president, as the BOE representative to attend the Colorado Association of School Boards delegate assembly
  • Opening of an account with Ameriprise Financial Services Inc., for the sole purpose of receiving an estate donation and closing the account once all related transactions have occurred
  • A resolution to revise certain waivers from Colorado Statutes to address the Colorado Department of Education’s denial of Liberty Tree Academy charter school’s application
  • A safety and security specialist position and a senior safety and security specialist position to allow a specialist for each zone

   
   Discussion items
   Lou Fletcher, culture and services director, said the Kids’ Corner program has changed its name to Before and After School Expeditions 49, or BASE49.
   
   Matt Willhelm, project manager with Wember Inc., updated the board on the district’s 3B project list. He said construction at VRHS is on schedule for completion on Sept. 7; lightning has caused some delays at the Vista del Pico elementary school site, but construction is still on schedule for completion in June 2019.
   
   Willhelm said secure entries at all schools are complete and the turf on the SCHS football field will be completed before the first football game.
   
   Dave Watson, director of safety and security, provided an update on his team’s operations and said the Safe2Tell program has received reports now that school is back in session. “Almost 40 percent of the reports are mental-health related,” he said. “Last year, we saved four students in the act of self-harm or a suicide attempt.” The increase D 49 has seen is consistent with other districts across Colorado Springs and the state, Watson said.
   
   The safety and security team has also created an enhanced security community advisory team, which consists of about 40 volunteers from the district, he said. The ESCAT team includes district leaders, teachers and parents who will discuss how to improve the district’s security postures, Watson said.
   
   Dave Pratt, safety and security specialist, said the security team had three full days of training, done within the framework of restorative practices that included input from two SCHS students. “It was real and honest and they held us accountable,” he said. “We got a lot of clarity about what they are dealing with.”
   
   Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, presented information on the proposed ballot initiative and said the ballot language makes it difficult for residents in the district to relate to the current situation in D 49. The D 49 communications team put together a survey; and, using that data, they generated a list of frequently asked questions to post online to help address concerns from the community, he said.
   
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, discussed the proposed minor revisions to policies on the evaluation of chief officers. The board moved this item to an action item at the next regular meeting.
   
   Hilts also presented the parameters for future Mission Innovation proposals and said those proposals will be solicited by the district’s administration. Of the proposals submitted, the administration will select a few to support and present to the board, he said. Each proposal should include a minimum resource amount of $50,000 or require one full-time equivalent position, specific innovation and transformation stages and a principal or director statement of support, Hilts said.
   
   “The adjustments to the Mission Innovation program are intended to encourage district staff to think big and come up with potentially transformative ideas,” he said. The administration plans to implement the new parameters for the program this school year, Hilts said.
   
   Graham said the CASB delegate assembly will take place in October, and the district has to decide whether to keep pushing for previous resolutions they would like to have approved again this year, or bring new ones to the table. He requested additional input from faculty and staff by Aug. 31.
   
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the D 49 Education Services Center.
  
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  Substitute teachers in short supply
  By Lindsey Harrison

   School districts across El Paso County are experiencing a shortage of qualified substitute teachers, causing some districts to take action.
   
   According to a 2014 study by the National Council on Teacher Quality, over the course of a student’s kindergarten through 12th grade education, on average he or she will have spent 143 days with a substitute teacher, which is about one month shy of an entire school year.
   
   At the April 10 El Paso County Colorado School District 49 Board of Education meeting, the board members unanimously approved a resolution to apply for a waiver through the Colorado Department of Education concerning substitute teacher licensure.
   
   The resolution states the following: “We, the District 49 Board of Education, are seeking a waiver from the state requirement for substitute teachers to acquire a substitute license/authorization prior to being employed as a substitute teacher of a school district.”
   
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer with D 49, said the district has had a shortage of subs for multiple years.
   
   “Under the old policy, you could only hire people who had gone through the state licensing process,” Hilts said. “There are people in our community who are qualified (to substitute teach) but not licensed. The new system under the waiver allows us to hire people as subs who have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, even if they did not have a state substitute teaching license.”
   
   Karey Urbanski, director of human resources at Colorado Springs School District 11, said her district is experiencing a similar shortage. “There has been a decline in substitute applications and truly having available subs,” she said. “I would say that I have been working in this position for the last three to four years and even over that short period of time, we have noticed a decline.”
   
   The personnel services manager for Lewis-Palmer School District 38, Teale Kocher, said there are differing views about the shortage of substitutes in her district. “If you were to ask the teachers and principals, they would say we do not have enough substitutes in our district,” she said. “We have 105 subs on our list right now, but I know that we have about 12 to 13 percent of the subs on our list who have never accepted an offer to sub. I am working to determine why that is.”
   
   D 38 administrators have not discussed a policy change or applying for a waiver like D 49 has done, she said.
   
   D 11 has also not considered a policy change or applying for a waiver, Urbanski said.
   
   The economy could be to blame for the lack of substitute teachers because it has grown strong enough that not as many people are looking for short-term work opportunities, Hilts said. “People who need the flexibility of substitute teaching have more options, like teaching for an online school or hybrid online school, or in a homeschool support setting,” he said. “When workers have more options, it makes it harder to find a concentration in a specific occupation like substitute teaching.”
   
   Urbanski said she thinks the shortage has to do, in part, with a shortage of people interested in going into education in general and not just in Colorado Springs or even the state of Colorado. The lack of interest in going into teaching needs to be addressed at the national level as it is a nationwide issue.
   
   To incentivize qualified people to become substitute teachers, some districts are raising their pay rates for subs. Urbanski said D 11 has done just that for the 2018-2019 school year. A full day of substitute teaching for Monday through Friday is $115, while a Friday is $125, she said. The pay raise, the higher pay for working on Fridays, which historically is a day when subs are needed the most, and offering free lunches to subs on Fridays are other incentives D 11 offers, Urbanski said.
   
   Hilts said D 49 might be considering a pay raise for subs but the current rate is as follows: for an entry-level sub with a bachelor’s degree only, the rate is $90 per day, which is raised to $120 per day after 45 days (non-consecutive) of service. That amount goes up to $140 per day after 90 days of service.
   
   Kocher said the pay rate for subs in District 38 is a bit different: $95 per day from the first day to 45 days (non-consecutive), with $48 per day for half-days during that same period; $120 per day from day 46 to 89, with $60 per day for half-days; $150 per day from day 90 and beyond, with $75 for half-days; and $185 per day for a long-term position if a teacher is not returning.
   
   Danniella Ewen, executive director of human resources at D 11, said universities are trying to combat the lack of interest in a teaching career by offering dual degrees, where a teacher can get an elementary school endorsement (which is the subject area and grade level to qualify teachers) but also get a special education endorsement. Doing so allows them to be qualified to teach in both areas, she said.
   
   With new people coming on board to teach, safety and security remain top priorities for each district. Hilts said each sub goes through the same background checks and fingerprinting process as regular teachers. “We also train subs on our emergency procedures and protocols for critical incidents,” he said. “Under the waiver we received, we are going to train our subs in five areas, and we think we will get a higher quality of performance, but also be a better place to work.”
   
   Hilts said the five training areas for subs are security, safety and emergency procedures; professional communication so subs can speak with their colleagues, parents and students effectively; instructional practices so they are aligned with what the regular teachers are doing; instruction on classroom management, including how to set up a classroom to work productively and how to intervene if a student is disruptive in class; and assessment proctoring so they understand the rules of how to administer tests.
   
   Urbanski said D 11 provides subs with a guest staff orientation session prior to the start of the school year. “We had the security director come to the training and provide subs with the process and protocols of how to handle emergency situations,” she said. “We are also requiring that every school provide the emergency protocol for their school for each sub that enters their building.”
   
   Kocher said D 38 does not provide special training for subs, but each school provides a safety folder to each sub when they check in. Inside the folder are instructions on what to do in case of an emergency, including diagrams for classroom evacuation; depending on the situation, she said. Additionally, when a sub is first hired through D 38, they have to sign off on reading material about child abuse reporting, student and employee confidentiality and watch videos about fire extinguishers and hazardous communication, Kocher said.
   
   Hilts said he is aware of the amount of time students spend with subs and added, “That is why we need to increase the quality and depth of our substitute teacher pool.”
  
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