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“Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.”
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 12 December 2018  

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  September 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 regular board meeting in September.
   
   Board update
   Josh Frey, director, said the district accountability advisory committee held its first meeting of the new school year, which went well.
   
   Dave Cruson, secretary, said he attended a few events during homecoming week at Vista Ridge High School.
   
   Kevin Butcher, treasurer, said he is a member of the Colorado Association of Realtors; and, for the first time in his 30 years of membership, the organization has openly taken a stance against an education amendment addressed on November’s ballot. Amendment 73 would create a tax bracket system, rather than the current flat tax rate, and raise taxes for individuals making more than $150,000 per year, raise the corporate income tax rate and create the Quality Public Education Fund.
   
   Marie LaVere-Wright, president, recognized the student council at Falcon High School. They held a “Dance Before the Dance” event to allow students with special needs to attend a more “low-key” version of the annual homecoming dance.
   
   Chief officers’ update
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said the enhanced security community advisory team is up and running and the fourth security specialist has been hired, as well as the technology quality assurance manager.
   
   Almeida recognized the transportation team, which has expanded its service this year.
   
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said Sand Creek High School was able to host the football game against Palmer Ridge High School on their new football field.
   
   Action items
   
   The BOE unanimously approved the following:
  • Revisions to policies regarding staff health; staff personal security and safety; and staff unpaid leave of absence
  • Review of the following policies and procedures: admission and denial of admission; admission of non-immigrant foreign students; intra-district choice/transfers; intra-district choice/open enrollment; student distribution of non-curricular materials; and student records/release of information on students
  • Designation of Oct. 30 as the official impact aid survey date for the 2018-2019 school year
  • Mission Innovation parameters and calendar
  • Designation of May 25 as the graduation date for the class of 2019 at the World Arena in Colorado Springs at the following times: FHS at 9 a.m.; VRHS at 1 p.m.; and SCHS at 5 p.m.
  • The 2017-2018 supplemental budget to appropriately inform and account for certain revenues and related expenses
  • Revisions to the finance director job description to place the current finance group manager in that role and leave the finance group manager position dormant
  • Appointment of John Graham, vice president, as the delegate for the Colorado Association of School Boards delegate assembly

   The board discussed adjusting the pay rates for “guest” or substitute teachers. Pay rates are determined by the amount of days a teacher has served in the district for each school year. Tier 1 rates go to guest teachers who have served one to 45 days; Tier 2 rates go to guest teachers who have served 46 to 90 days; and Tier 3 rates go to guest teachers who have served 91 days or more.
   
   The current pay rates: full day rates — $90, $120 and $140 for Tiers 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Half-day rates are $54, $72 and $84 for Tiers 1, 2 and 3, respectively.
   
   The proposed pay rates: full day rates of $100, $125 and $150 for Tiers 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Half-day rates of $60, $75 and $90 for Tiers 1,2 and 3, respectively.
   
   The proposal also requested that teachers who had reached Tier 3 status be allowed to keep that status in subsequent years, rather than having to return to Tier 1 with the start of each new school year.
   
   “The ultimate purpose is to make sure our students are having a great experience with a strong teacher at the front of the room,” Hilts said.
   
   The board unanimously approved the proposal.
   
   Discussion items
   Matt Willhelm, project manager with Wember Inc., updated the board on the district’s 3B project list. He said a list has already been done to address anything at Bennett Ranch Elementary School that needs to be fixed or adjusted over fall break. The last of the Priority 2 summer projects are wrapping up; so far, no project on the entire 3B project list has gone over budget.
   
   Ken Witt, executive director of Education reEnvisioned Board of Cooperative Educational Services, formerly Colorado Digital BOCES, updated the board and said Education reEnvisioned BOCES believes that education continues to improve, and he wanted to be clear about the direction the organization was heading and how it planned to get there.
   
   Part of that direction includes moving away from the organization’s dependence on D 49 and listening to its partner districts, which include the Creede School District in Creede, Colorado, and the Durango School District 9-R in Durango, Colorado, Witt said.
   
   Monica Deines-Henderson, director of nutrition services, said the United States Department of Agriculture’s guidance requirements, enforced by the Colorado Department of Education, indicate that D 49’s adult breakfast prices were too low. To stay in compliance with the CDE, the district needs to adjust that cost, she said.
   
   The board moved this item forward for action at a subsequent meeting.
   
   Andy Franko, iConnect zone leader, updated the board about activities within his zone, including the official opening of the Liberty Tree Academy charter school. He also discussed performance goals for the schools within his zone such as continuing the positive trend in primary literacy at Springs Studio for Academic Excellence.
   
   Ron Sprinz, finance group manager, updated the board on the preliminary numbers for total enrollment in D 49. The official student count will occur in October, which will help guide the district’s budget, he said.
   
   Following the regular meeting, the BOE entered into an executive session to discuss both the COO’s evaluation and review and student discipline matters involving specific students and issues related to extracurricular activities.
   
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the D 49 Education Services Center.
  
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  District 49 ballot proposal
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Aug. 22, the El Paso County Colorado School District 49 Board of Education approved the proposed language for a measure that will be placed on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election.
   
   The actual ballot measure language:
   
   “In order to decrease the current mill levy override rate of 19.081 mills to 18.500 mills, shall school district 49 (El Paso County Colorado School District 49) mill levy override taxes be $16.5 million in 2018 for collection in 2019 and whatever amounts as may be generated annually thereafter by the imposition of a mill levy not to exceed 18.500 mills for the purposed approved by the voters in 2014 and 2016?”
   
   In an Aug. 16 interview, Brett Ridgway, chief business officer for D 49, said, if approved, the ballot measure sets the residents of the district up for the lowest overall combined tax rate since 2005.
   
   “The ballot asks us to hold the tax rate steady going forward so that we can grow with the community,” he said.“Having a consistent tax rate means that the district’s wealth and revenue will only be tied to the property owners’ growth in home value, which includes new construction home values.
   
   “Currently, every year when assessed values are released by the county assessor’s office, we recalculate tax rates according to that value. Going forward, we would prefer to leave that rate constant and let assessed value drive where the total revenue goes.”
   
   According to the district’s website, the ballot measure asks voters to approve a series of events as follows:
  • Convert the 2014 3A mill levy override from a fixed dollar amount of $7.5 million per year to a fixed mill rate
  • Combine the 2014 3A mill rate (8.922) with the 2016 3B mill rate (10.159) to a combined total of 18.500 mills instead of the current 19.081 mills
  • Keep everything else about the 2014 3A and 2016 3B ballot questions the same

   Ridgway said the ballot measure will ask new construction homeowners to contribute a similar amount of revenue to what historical homeowners (those who currently own a home in the district) have provided to D 49, rather than the likely outcome of new construction homeowners paying less if the ballot measure fails.
  
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