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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 11 November 2019  

None Black Forest News   None Book Review   None Business Briefs   None Community Calendar  
None Community Photos   None Did You Know?   None FFPD Column   None FFPD News  
None From the Publisher   None Marks Meanderings   None Monkey Business   None News From D 49  
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Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In
  Celebrating 100 years in 2020

   The Falcon School opened in 1920 on what is now the Falcon Legacy Campus in School District 49. They are looking for pictures, artifacts — memories of the district covering the last 100 years for a celebration event in June 2020. Contact Karen S. at, 719-244-3232 or 719-683-6243, or Karen H. at   
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  April 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 April, except for Kevin Butcher, treasurer, who was absent with prior notice. Samaya Singleton, a 10th grader from Pikes Peak Early College, was present as part of the student board of representatives.
   Before the regular meeting, the BOE held a “Fantastic 49” and honored the following: Bella Mitchell, 11th grader at Vista Ridge High School, for earning the distinction as the first female to win the Colorado High School Athletic Association’s state wrestling championship for her weight class; the D 49 nutrition services department for a near-perfect audit from the Colorado Department of Education; Jackie Sieben, free and reduced processor with the nutrition services department, for helping 4,700 students receive free or reduced-price meal benefits; Cornel Muresan, building manager at Falcon Elementary School of Technology for his continued dedication to the district; and Girl Scout Troop #43820 for installing a rain barrel in the student garden at Meridian Ranch Elementary School.
   Board update
   Dave Cruson, secretary, thanked the facilities and grounds crew for their efforts during the March 13 “bomb cyclone” and the days following the storm.
   Josh Fry, director, said the Colorado Springs City Council declared April 11 as Teen Court Day in honor of the 25th anniversary of the program, which is a nonprofit program that offers a restorative justice alternative to the typical Municipal Court sentencing for first-time misdemeanor offenders between the ages of 10 and 18.
   Fry and Cruson said they attended various graduation ceremonies for students preparing to graduate in May.
   John Graham, vice president, said he attended the “Taste of D 49” food show at VRHS.
   Chief officers update
   Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, thanked the members of his team responsible for payroll for ensuring paychecks were ready even during the blizzard in March. They started working on payroll duties the weekend before the storm hit and came into work during the storm to make sure paychecks were sent out, he said.
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, recognized Ridgeview Elementary School for being selected as a Capturing Kids’ Hearts showcase school for the second year in a row.
   Hilts also recognized Vista Ridge for being named a Special Olympics Unified School by the Special Olympics organization for its spirit of inclusion and acceptance.
   Student board update
   Samaya Singleton voiced concern that the link on the D 49 weather survey was not working properly, and she also asked for additional details on the proposed combination of the Pikes Peak Early College and the Springs Studio for Academic Excellence at the Springs Studio facility and whether that would allow the district to provide a lunch option through the nutrition services department.
   Open forum
   Jenny Gallegos, a parent in the district, is concerned that the special education students who ride the buses do not always get where they need to be. She cited an incident her son experienced recently and said no changes have been made. She suggested ways to improve communication to prevent similar incidents.
   Action items
   The BOE unanimously approved the following:
  • A mill levy override funding allocation formula to appropriately manage the mill levy funds moving forward
  • A resolution recognizing the week of May 6-10 as National Teacher Appreciation Week
  • Review of the following board policies: standards based education; administrative organization; policy implementation; administration in the absence of policy; environmental and safety program; hazardous materials; prevention of disease/infection transmission; staff positions and job descriptions; student withdrawal from school/dropouts; student conduct; code of conduct; custodian and non-custodial parent rights and responsibilities; and controversial communications
  • The Alternative Education Campus Renewal applications and proposed measures for GOAL (Guided Online Academic Learning) Academy and Patriot High School
  • District and school level unified improvement plans

   After some discussion, the board unanimously approved boundary changes between Woodmen Hills Elementary School and Meridian Ranch Elementary in the Falcon Zone to accommodate additional students predicted to enter that zone within the next five years. The new boundary for WHES is east of Meridian Road, south of Londonderry Drive, northwest of Judge Orr and north of Woodmen Road. The new boundaries will mitigate overcrowding.
   “This is not an easy choice,” Graham said. “I think this option is the best choice. The ability to have more time before we have to consider this type of thing again (changing boundaries) is a big motivation.”
   Discussion items
   Dave Watson, director of safety and security, gave an update on the initiatives developed by the Enhanced Security Community Advisory Team, and said Sand Creek High was the first of seven secondary school locations to receive a Blue Point Alert System, which was installed over spring break. The remaining systems will be installed over the summer, and the funding for the systems will come from the 3B mill levy money, he said.
   The Blue Point Alert System is similar in design to a fire alarm, but when pulled it immediately launches the school’s lockdown protocols and summons first responders from the Colorado Springs Police Department, which is partnering with the district, Watson said.
   The Enhanced Security committee will continue to meet through the next year, and Watson said he would like to have it become a standing committee.
   Additionally, he said a proposal to arm security staff is in the planning and development stages and will be presented to the BOE in the future. “Also, every elementary school will get improved radio communications, and we’re really excited about that,” he said.
   Matt Willhelm, project manager with Wember, Inc., updated the board on planning for 3B mill levy override Priority 2 projects, about 60 of those will be addressed over the summer. Inspiration View Elementary School, the new elementary school in the Banning Lewis Ranch subdivision, is tracking well financially; construction is ahead of schedule, he said.
   Ridgway presented information that addressed Samaya’s questions about the expansion of the Springs Studio facility and the relocation of Pikes Peak Early College to that same site. Although an official plan has not yet been developed, he said the current facility was initially a four-phase construction format, with only phase 1 already built. The leaders of PPEC and SSAE are considering using the phase 2 expansion from the original 1998 building plans to accommodate both schools, he said. That construction could be completed by the fall of 2020, Ridgway said.
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said PPEC has already begun relocating in anticipation of the board’s approval.
   An official action item will be presented to the board at a subsequent meeting.
   Ridgway also updated the BOE on how the district is budgeting for upcoming capital improvements that do not fall under the scope of the 3B mill levy projects.
   Marie LaVere-Wright said money has been consistently placed into the capital reserves fund so the district can address capital improvement needs as they arise and to “stay ahead of things.”
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is May 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the D 49 Education Services Center.
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  Taste of D 49
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On April 9, the El Paso County Colorado School District 49’s Nutrition Services Department held an event called “Taste of D 49” in the commons of Vista Ridge High School. The event was postponed from its original March 13 date because of the “bomb cyclone.”
   Vendors set up about 10 different tasting stations and offered food and drink samples, along with comment cards for each selection. Attendees were asked to fill out the comment cards; in turn, the nutrition services department would use the comments to guide them as they develop meal menus for the schools throughout the district.
   Monica Deines-Henderson, nutrition services director, said the district values the community’s input as the department creates school menus within the constraints of the federal meal requirements.
   At this year’s event, more than 250 people came to sample the items and provide feedback on what they would like to see on the 2019-2020 breakfast and lunch menus.
   Dacey Harrison, a fifth-grader at Ridgeview Elementary School, said the items were all good and she would not need to eat dinner that evening because she sampled so many different menu options. She also said she was excited to see what items “made the cut” for next school year’s menu.
Vendors Jo Dreiling (left) and Jo Corey presented a variety of menu options for sampling at the Taste of D 49 event, including a French toast breakfast bar that meets federal nutrition requirements and can be a "breakfast in the classroom.”
Dacey Harrison, age 10, samples the fruit slushy provided by Cool Tropics representative Celeste Linhard during the April 9 Taste of D 49 event.
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  Falcon students crowned queen and first runner-up

   Kyra Brockberg, a seventh-grader at Falcon Middle School in El Paso County Colorado School District 49 , was crowned queen of the preteen group at the Colorado Miss Amazing pageant March 30 in Parker, Colorado. The pageant is a platform for girls with disabilities.
   “I like it because it gives us confidence, especially those who are shy,” Kyra said.
   Aislynn Cates, a sixth-grade student at FMS, was the first runner up for the preteen group.
   “It made me feel unique, and like I can do anything,” Aislynn said.
   Makiyla Dunson, a ninth-grader at Falcon High School, also participated in the event.
   Makiyla highlighted her abilities by participating in the talent portion.
   Jennifer Hills, a D 49 teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing, said, “The pageant focuses on the fantastic abilities of each and every participant.”
   Colorado is one of 30 states across the country to host Miss Amazing events; about 100 girls in the state have participated in the program since 2017.
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  D 49 baton twirlers win awards

   Representing El Paso County Colorado School Disrict 49, Jazsmyn Santistevan, age 14, Elle Koenke, age 15, and Ashlyn Koenke, age 12, won individual awards in various categories of solo, presentation, strut and artistic twirling at the Kansas/Colorado U.S. Twirling Association competition held April 13 in Colby, Kansas.
   The trio also won first place with a jazz-funk routine called “Get Up!” The girls also study ballet, and Jazsmyn is on the softball team at Falcon Middle School.
   The twirlers are now preparing for the May 5 Colorado state championship in Denver and the regional competition June 8 and June 9 in Kansas. The latter will include twirlers from 12 states, including Colorado.
   Pam Kellen is the girls baton twirling coach — she is certified as a judge and coach.
Three District 49 students have taken top honors in state competitions in various categories of baton twirling: from left to right, Jazsmyn Santistevan, an eighth-grader at Falcon Middle School; Elle Koenke and Ashlyn Koenke, who are in ninth and seventh grade, respectively, at Banning Lewis Ranch. The girls will compete again May 5.
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