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"I think it's the height of patriotism to continue to exercise your right as a citizen and to hold your government to account. Isn't that what the very essence of democracy is about?"
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 7 July 2019  

None Black Forest News   None Book Review   None Community Calendar   None Did You Know?  
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None Health and Wellness   None Letters to the Editor   None Marks Meanderings   None Monkey Business  
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None Phun Photos   None Prairie Life   None Recipe of the Month   None Rumors  
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  Celebrating 100 years in 2020

   The Falcon School opened in 1920 on what is now the Falcon Legacy Campus in School District 49. We are looking for pictures, artifacts — memories of the district covering the last 100 years for a celebration event in June 2020. Join our planning committee! If you have information or items to share, contact Karen S. at, 719-244-3232 or 719-683-6243, or Karen H.   
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  January 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 January. Samaya Singleton, a 10th grader from Pikes Peak Early College, and William Kessinger, a 12th grader from Vista Ridge High School, were present as part of the student board of representatives.
   Before the regular meeting, the BOE held a “Fantastic 49” and recognized Megan Rasmusen and Jay Bonser, Gateway to Technology teachers at Skyview Middle School, for their integral role in helping the school receive Project Lead the Way’s Inaugural Distinguished School Gateway Award. More than 100 middle schools across the nation who displayed exemplary science, technology, engineering and math programs received the award. SMS was the only middle school in Colorado to receive the award.
   The BOE also recognized the following: Mirsada Dzanic, building manager at Vista Ridge High School, for fostering a caring community and providing a clean facility; Kevin Roche, facilities manager at the Creekside Success Center, for going above and beyond for students and staff; and Lisa Hartman, counselor at Evans International Elementary School, for coordinating the “Wildcat Week of Thanks” community outreach program.
   Board update
   Dave Cruson, secretary, thanked Ridgeview Elementary School for hosting a memorial to Monty Scaggs a retired lawyer who worked as a substitute teacher. “We were blessed to have him,” Cruson said.
   Chief officers’ update
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said he visited Inspiration View Elementary School, and construction is well on track.
   Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, said the draft of the district’s financial audit is available and he hopes to wrap up that process soon.
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said the 4A cheer squad from Sand Creek High School was one of the top 10 performers in the Colorado High School Activities Association’s state competition. The 5A co-ed cheer squad from VRHS took fourth place in the state competition and the 4A co-ed cheer squad from Falcon High School took second place.
   Open forum
   Deborah Hendrix, executive director of, invited D 49 to participate in a school fair Jan. 25 at the Space Foundation Headquarters and Discovery Center in Colorado Springs, where students and parents had a chance to learn about the educational options available in the county.
   Action items
   The BOE unanimously approved the following:
  • Renewal of the charter school application for Imagine Classical Academy –- Indigo Ranch, also known as Grand Peak Academy
  • Revisions to the district accountability advisory committee’s bylaws
  • The 2019-2020 school calendar, and preliminarily approval of the 2020-2021 school calendar
  • New course proposals: Future Business Leaders of America leadership I and II at SCHS; large animal vet science at Falcon High School; veterinary pet care at FHS; agriculture economics and marketing at FHS; SAT/PSAT math prep at VRHS; and digital art at FHS
  • Course name change proposals at VRHS: chamber choir to show choir; critical thinking to global studies; and business math to personal finance
  • BOE meeting dates for the 2020-2021 school year
  • Adjustment of the scheduled launch for Mission Innovation 2.0 to August 2019
  • The new individualized education compliance assistant job description

   The BOE discussed the priority improvement plan for the Academy for Literacy, Learning and Innovation Excellence, and unanimously approved the decision to continue on the path the school is on to improve its school performance frameworks rating.
   Discussion items
   Matt Willhelm, project manager with Wember Inc., updated the board on the district’s 3B project list. He said work at SCHS is done and the cost came in at $44,000 under budget. Work at FHS is also complete and the cost was $106,000 under budget, he said. Construction on Inspirational View Elementary School is moving forward, and Willhelm said the plan is to shoot for a June 28 completion date.
   Nancy Lemmond, executive director of individualized education, presented information about two new job description proposals for a deaf/hard of hearing teacher and an occupational therapist. The board unanimously approved this at the special meeting on Jan. 23.
   Ridgway presented information on the annual review of the district’s legal representation. Marie LaVere-Wright, president, requested a breakdown of what is covered by the retainer contract and additional costs that would be incurred. The board unanimously agreed to continue on with Miller Farmer Law, LLC, as its legal representative.
   Ridgway also presented the amended budget update and said the board needed to decide what to do with the additional fund balance. The board unanimously agreed to keep the fund balance at 8.5 percent of the budget rather than adjusting it either up or down. The board approved this at the Jan. 23 special meeting.
   Additionally, Ridgway presented an update on the 2018-2019 charter school budgets and described how revenue changes occur with changes in student count. The board approved this at the Jan. 23 special meeting.
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is Feb. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the D 49 Education Services Center.
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  D 49 new automotive charter school
  By Lindsey Harrison

   The Automotive Institute of Science and Technology (a new charter school), which the El Paso County Colorado District 49 Board of Education approved in December, is set to open in the fall of 2020, said Andy Franko, iConnect zone leader for D 49.
   “The school (focused on automotive careers) will open with about 250 seats in ninth and 10th grade that first year,” Franko said. “It will expand out each year after that to full enrollment in year five at around 600 students.”
   The AIST has partnered with Pikes Peak Community College, per the contract requirements, but also with Advanced Auto Parts and other companies in the automotive industry, he said. Those partnerships allow the AIST to have financial resources that are not available to other schools and could result in the replication of this type of school in other places, Franko said.
   The school’s educational model will incorporate the mechanical side of automotive technology as well as technology engineering and a pathway through the business side of the industry, including distribution, parts and labor, and more, Franko said. Because the school will follow the Power Technical Early College model, students can attend from ninth through 12th grade, with the option to stay on for up to two more years through concurrent enrollment, he said. Those two extra years allow students the opportunity to graduate from high school with both their diploma and an associate degree in science, he said.
   “I think our board is in favor of the idea that more pathways for students that include options that do not always lead to a four-year college are necessary,” he said. “These kids can walk out with a skill, be employable and walk out without a debt situation they cannot overcome. With this industry in particular, an associate degree might offer beyond entry-level status.”
   The AIST plans to build a facility about 60,000 square feet within the boundaries of D 49, although the exact location has not been determined, Franco said. The district is working with the AIST on the pre-opening conditions, including the facility plan, and will require the school to provide enrollment data that shows they have enough students to support their budget; just as any other charter school would, Franko said.
   While other organizations have created automotive mechanic education pathways, the AIST model is different because it will be project-based learning in both the engineering and business side of the industry, he said.
   “This is the state’s first and probably the nation’s first charter school of its kind, which makes that interesting,” Franko said. “There is more than one pathway into the industry, and this industry is crying for employees in those pathways.”
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  New app for smartphones
  Submitted by School District 49

   El Paso County Colorado School District 49 has launched a mobile app for smartphone users. Those who download the app will find a wealth of information. D 49 families will receive important notifications as well as the ability to log into the app to get useful, up-to-the-minute information about their students; including grades, attendance, account balances and more. The D 49 app also features the latest news from the district, and offers users the flexibility to customize their experience by selecting the D 49 schools they want to follow.
   The enhancement to D 49 communications began in 2018. It is supported by Blackboard, the company that operates the D 49 website.
   Search for Colorado School District 49 in the App Store or on Google Play.
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