The Falcon School District 49 Board of Education came under fire in February concerning a proposed name change — from what’s usually referred to as Falcon School District 49 to Pikes Peak District 49. On Feb. 12, the district posted a survey on its website to garner input on the proposal from the community.|
When word got out that the district had been toying with the name change, community members took to Facebook to voice their opinions and to urge other community members to make their voices heard through the district’s survey. Comments ranged from questioning the district’s decision to mess with a good thing to accusing the district of distancing itself from a “bad reputation” earned in the past.
David Nancarrow, director of communications for D 49, said the goal of the “rebranding” would establish a recognizable regional identity beneficial to the district as a whole.
According to the district’s website, D 49’s boundaries cover 133 square miles, including parts of eastern Colorado Springs. Of the 27 schools listed on the website’s school directory, 19 schools are located outside of Falcon, including charter and blended learning schools.
The name change proposal was presented to the BOE at its annual planning retreat in January. Marie LaVere-Wright, board president, said the chief officers brought up a concern that, in discussions with other educators outside of the Colorado Springs area, many people do not know where D 49 is located because of its Falcon distinction. Although the district’s legal name is El Paso County School District 49, it is widely known as Falcon School District 49 and referred to as such. The website, however, refers to simply, District 49.
“We are among the top 20 districts in population across the state,” she said. “We need them to understand where we are. Not knowing that can impact us when we are recruiting teachers both statewide and nationally.”
At the planning retreat, LaVere-Wright said the chief officers suggested creating a geographical marker to help people pinpoint the district’s location, and the board asked the officers to create a formal proposal. As part of that formal proposal, the board said they wanted feedback from the community, she said.
“We want to know where the community stands on this,” LaVere-Wright said.
According to the responses on Facebook, the community’s stance is negative.
Some questioned the costs of changing the name.
Nancarrow said the district does not have a figure for costs at this time, but there is no cost to update the district’s name from a legal and financial institution standpoint.
“The logo we currently have features the image of a mountain with no mention of Falcon on it,” he said. “We would maintain the logo as we have it, as it exists. That would eliminate any kind of cost to develop a new logo.”
Even if the renaming effort does not cost money, many community members raised concerns that deleting the “Falcon” reference would unnecessarily alter the district’s identity. One community member stated that the district has worked hard to make a good name for itself the last few years, and it would be counter productive to change things now.
LaVere-Wright said the board would be discussing the proposal at a Feb. 28 work session, and is planning a second discussion on March 8, which includes an open forum where the community can share their viewpoints.
The proposal is slated for board consideration, at the earliest, on April 12, she said.
“We wanted to start to engage the community now to find out how they feel about the proposal, which is why we developed the survey,” she said. “Before we ever began to have a discussion about it as a board and heard the formal proposal, we wanted the community to have a voice in the entire discussion. That allows us to be better informed while we discuss it.”
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According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, El Paso County had 70 fatal traffic accidents during 2017, resulting in 77 deaths. EPC recorded the highest number of fatalities in Colorado. The county with the next highest amount was Weld County, with 61 fatal accidents resulting in 66 deaths.|
With so many fatalities, concerns arise about the safety of the streets in the Falcon area, especially as new development continues to emerge, bringing new vehicles. To address those concerns over the next several months, The New Falcon Herald will focus on one “problem” intersection at a time to highlight safety issues and inform the residents as to what the county is doing to resolve the issues.
The NFH sent out an email to subscribers and also posted on Facebook, asking residents to name intersections they consider dangerous or problematic in the Falcon area.
Almost 50 people responded to the NFH.
Looking at one or two intersections at a time, the NFH is starting this series with the intersection of Meridian Road and Londonderry Drive, mentioned in four responses to the survey.
One resident stated that Londonderry Drive and Meridian Road is dangerous because there is no turn light to allow vehicles traveling either east or west on Londonderry to make a left turn onto Meridian Road. Vehicles are not following the rules of the road, which are outlined in the Colorado Driver Handbook.
According to the handbook, drivers turning left must yield to all oncoming traffic. “The law states who must yield the right-of-way; it does not give anyone the right-of-way, even if your traffic signal is green,” the handbook states. “You must do everything you can to prevent striking a pedestrian or another vehicle, regardless of the circumstances.”
Trooper Josh Lewis with the Colorado State Patrol said, according to CSP’s statistics team, the frequency of crashes at the Londonderry and Meridian intersection has increased every year since 2013. In 2017, crashes were up 51.7 percent from 2016 and up 266.7 percent from 2013, he said. Out of the 32 total crashes at that intersection between 2013 and 2017, four resulted in injuries and one resulted in a fatality, he said.
“Inattention to driving and failure to yield right-of-way were the leading causes of those crashes, resulting in six crashes each,” Lewis said. “Improper left turns and lane violations resulted in five crashes each.”
The citizen respondents also mentioned that vehicles frequently travel up to 65 miles per hour down Londonderry toward Towner Road from Meridian, although the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour. Falcon School District 49 is constructing a new elementary school, Bennett Ranch, on Towner, just north of Falcon Middle School. BRES is scheduled to open in August, and there will be a marked increase in children, which is another cause for concern about driving habits in the area.
Matt Steiner, EPC public information officer, said he talked with the county’s engineering department, and they are in communication with the entities involved in building BRES; the county is trying to determine what improvements need to be made to nearby roadways and intersections as part of the project. Steiner said, "Those improvements are still being discussed. No details yet."
Regarding the intersection as a whole, Steiner said there aren’t enough known complaints about Meridian and Londonderry. However, the NFH received four complaints on this intersection alone and more than 30 complaints on Meridian Road intersections throughout Falcon.
Editor’s note: Next month, the NFH will tackle another intersection or two. Matt Steiner said representatives from the county departments will be available for an interview.