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"Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread."
– Edward Abbey  
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 9 September 2019  

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  Rover comes to Falcon schools

   On April 26, the STEM Squad surprised third, fourth and fifth graders at Falcon Elementary School of Technology by bringing in Rover, a robotic car they can program to dance using calculators. Rover is a nationwide program, and Falcon Elementary in El Paso County Colorado School District 49 is the first elementary school in the country to meet Rover.
   
   Texas Instruments designed the TI Rover to help students with STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math). While students are having fun with Rover, they will learn important skills like how to code.
   
Ellen Fishpaw and Dale Philbrick from Texas Instruments discuss the TI Rovers. Fishpaw said this is the first time Texas Instruments has used this program with students of this age. Falcon was the ninth stop on a nationwide tour.
The Rovers encourage learning through interactive lessons. After programming the Rovers, the students join in to dance with robotic cars.
Mary Velasquez, D 49 project manager, talked about the Department of Defense Ignite Grant, which has allowed the district to purchase Rovers, calculators and hubs that will be used district wide for kindergarten through eighth grade.Falcon Elementary third-grader Irece Dunson, age 8, shows the Rover off at Friday’s “test drive.”
  
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  May 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 May, except for Kevin Butcher, treasurer, and Josh Fry, director, who were absent with prior notice.
   
   Before the regular meeting, the BOE held a “Fantastic 49” and honored the following: Matt Monfre, physical education teacher at Stetson Elementary School, for his work to support students’ health and wellness; Karen Bixler, instructional coach at SES, for working with the professional learning community at the school and helping teachers; Shauna Orth, special needs router and liaison in the D 49 transportation department, for helping ensure students facing homelessness are safely transported to school; Sadie Russell, parent volunteer at Remington Elementary School, for being a positive role model for the students, along with her commitment to volunteerism; and James Sellman, building manager at RES, who is retiring after 28 years of dedicated service to the district.
   
   Chief officers’ update
   Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, said the shooting incident at the Douglas County School District RE-1 STEM School Highlands Ranch hits closer to home for those in D 49 because the schools are partners in cybersecurity.
   
   Ridgway also recognized Banning Lewis Ranch Academy for joining Ridgeview Elementary School as a Capturing Kids’ Hearts showcase school.
   
   He also recognized Mary Mullikin, family and consumer sciences teacher at Vista Ridge High School, who was selected to attend the Google Certified Innovator Academy in London this summer. Ridgway said she was one of only 2,000 certified innovators worldwide.
   
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said the Enhanced Security Community Advisory Team continues to review plans for implementing initiatives they have previously presented to the board.
   
   Action items
   The BOE unanimously approved the following:
  • Modification of Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy’s graduation requirements from 28 credits to 25 credits
  • Review of the following policies: district safe and drug-free schools advisory council; maintenance/control of materials/property management; authorized use of school-owned materials or equipment; naming of buildings and facilities; instructional staff sabbaticals; class size; grading/assessment systems; graduation exercises; compassionate administration of therapeutic cannabinoid products; and crisis management
  • Proposed student fees for the 2019-2020 school year
  • Food service contracts with BLRA, BLPA, Grand Peak Academy, Pikes Peak School of Expeditionary Learning and Power Technical Early College
  • Change of a tutor position to a K-12 blended learning coach at the Academy for literacy, learning and innovation excellence
  • Revisions to the health and wellness specialist job description
  • The job description for director of applied and advanced learning

   After some discussion, the board unanimously approved the 2019-2020 pay schedules. Ridgway said the schedules reflect changes made after the district administration met with compensations teams and leadership teams across the district. “We are trying to maximize what we can do for continuing staff,” he said.
   
   Discussion items
   Andy Franko, iConnect Zone leader, presented information on the charter contract renewal for Grand Peak Academy, formerly known as Imagine Indigo Ranch. The school will be relocating to its new site at 7036 Cowpoke Road in Colorado Springs, from the current location at 6464 Peterson Road. Construction at the new site is progressing. The school will remain at its current location until the new facility is completed.
   
   Jodi Poulin, accounting group manager, presented three job description updates: accounts payable specialist, accounts receivable specialist and accounting technician.
   
   Nancy Lemmond, executive director of individualized education, also presented job description revisions for the diverse education teacher, paraprofessional and coordinator; special education technicians, paraprofessionals, and teachers
   
   The board will act on all three of the above discussion items at the June meeting.
   
   Ron Sprinz, director of finance, presented the 2019-2020 proposed budget per statutory requirement. Additional changes are possible based on decisions made at the state level, he said. The budget is available on the budget office’s website via https://d49.org.
   
   Ridgway presented the 2019-2020 priorities compiled by the Voice of the Workforce Compensation Team. He said about 70 people who are part of the VCT have helped develop strategic compensation priorities. The D 49 administration will work with them to implement or gather additional information for further discussions.
   
   The board moved five policies forward for action in June: tobacco-free schools; admission and denial of admission; extracurricular activity eligibility; public concerns and complaints; and concerns/complaints about teaching methods, activities or presentations.
   
   The BOE also moved a revised version of the policy regarding the evaluation of the chief officers forward for action in June.
   
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is June 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the D 49 Education Services Center.
  
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  Update on the D 49 baton twirlers

   Baton twirlers Ashlyn Koenke, Jazsmyn Santistevan and Elle Koenke from El Paso County Colorado School District 49 were featured in the May issue and won the May 5 state championship junior dance-twirl trio competition in Denver last month.
   
   They also won awards for solo, strut, presentation and artistic twirl.
   
   They are now preparing for regional championships, which will be held June 8 and June 9 in Kansas.
   
   Pam Kellen is the girls baton twirling coach.
  
Ashlyn Koenke, Jazsmyn Santistevan and Elle Koenke, after winning the state championship, are headed to the regional competition June 8 and June 9 in Kansas. Photo submitted
 
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  Careers in Construction facility update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Although the groundbreaking has been cancelled twice, the new facility that will house the Careers in Construction program in El Paso County Colorado School District 49 will still be built near Patriot High School. The Falcon Community Builders for Classrooms donated $500,000 for the project.
   
   Sarah Jack, administrator and one of the FCBC’s founders, said the 4,800-square-foot facility represents one of many capital-only projects the 501 (c) 3 organization has helped D 49 fund over the past 15 years. “We have raised over $8 million and completed projects on behalf of the district and in cooperation with the district,” she said. “The Careers in Construction program will give students an additional pathway after graduation.”
   
   The Home Builders Association will run the program in conjunction with D 49, and the facility will include classroom space for workshops conducted by the construction industry, Jack said. “If students complete the classroom work, they get certified and can hopefully then go to work right after graduation,” she said.
   
   The FCBC raises money from the voluntary fees paid by builders who want to contribute to the school district for educational purposes, Jack said. Other capital projects the FCBC has completed include the second story wing and athletic complex at Vista Ridge High School; the scoreboard and new turf field at Falcon High School; and delivery vehicles and activity buses for the district as a whole, she said.
   
   Jack said they are hopeful the Careers in Construction program facility will be open to students for the 2019-2020 school year.
  
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