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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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  June BOE meeting wrapup
  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 June, except for Marie LaVere-Wright, president, and Kevin Butcher, treasurer, who were absent with prior notice.
   
   Before the regular meeting, the BOE held a “Fantastic 49” and honored the following: Tambria Miller, paraeducator at Bennett Ranch Elementary School, for her enthusiasm and caring nature; Pam Holloman, academic dean at Odyssey Elementary School, for her contributions as she transitions to the assistant principal at Inspiration View Elementary School for the 2019-2020 school year; Derrius Rahman and Bruce Smith, recent graduates of Sand Creek High School, for earning Daniels Fund scholarships, which are presented to seniors who display excellent character and leadership; and Rachel Washburn, a senior at SCHS this fall, for participating in a buddy mentoring program at Remington Elementary School and obtaining a grant for improvements at SCHS.
   
   Board & chief officers’ updates
   Dave Cruson, secretary, said the D4.9K race will be held Sept. 14 at SCHS.
   
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, thanked the facilities staff for dealing with the snowstorm that hit during the last week of school.
   
   Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, commended the district for hosting three “traditional” graduations for the traditional high schools and six other graduations for the non-traditional high schools in D 49.
   
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, thanked the human resources department, principals and school leaders for finding great new staff members during the last hiring season. “We are drawing great people,” he said.
   
   Open forum
   The parents of two different student athletes at Vista Ridge High School expressed their concerns with the basketball program, and said they felt the district’s process for dealing with their concerns was not effective. Graham recommended the parents follow the stakeholder grievance process, and Hilts said if they have started the process, they should move forward with it.
   
   Action items
   The BOE unanimously approved the following:
  • Revisions to individualized education job descriptions: behavior support technician; coordinator of culturally and linguistically diverse education and K-12 teacher and paraprofessional for that program; health room paraprofessional; preschool paraeducator; special education generalist paraeducator, and paraeducators for affective needs, social communications, specialized needs support; special education teachers in the following areas: affective needs, cognitive support needs, as a generalist, deaf/hard of hearing, visually impaired, social communications and specialized support needs
  • Revisions to the accounts payable specialist, accounts receivable specialist and accounts technician job descriptions
  • Review of the following policies: tobacco-free schools; extracurricular activity eligibility; public concerns and complaints; and public concerns/complaints about teaching methods, activities or presentations
  • Annual contract renewal with Community Partnership for Child Development – Head Start for services at Falcon Elementary School of Technology and Evans International Elementary School
  • Charter contract renewal with Grand Peak Academy
  • Revision of the evaluation of chief officers board policy

   The BOE also unanimously approved the revised pay schedules for the 2019-2020 school year. Ridgway said the board had approved them at the May meeting but some pages were missing at the time, and he wanted to make sure the entire document was reviewed and approved.
   
   Discussion items
   Amy Attwood, contract lobbyist for D 49, provided an update on the most recent legislative session, and said overall it was contentious but education bills did well. She said Hilts and Rebecca Thompson, director of academic services at the Academy for Literacy, Learning and Innovation Excellence, were instrumental in shaping and getting approval of House Bill 19-1134, which identifies and provides interventions for students with dyslexia.
   
   Attwood said Ridgway provided useful information on the school finance committee that was set to expire this year, but a new interim committee will continue to convene beyond that expiration date.
   
   D 49 was a leader in negotiations to strip down Senate Bill 19-129, which “attacked” online schools through regulations, she said.
   
   Hilts said the district has been a part of the rule-making process for SB 19-129 and will stay involved in future discussions.
   
   Matt Willhelm, project manager with Wember Inc., said his team has started work on the 3B mill levy override Priority 2 projects, and is tracking about 52 additional projects that will be added to that list. Inspiration View Elementary School is almost complete — a ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for the end of July.
   
   Nancy Lemmond, executive director of individualized education, presented two job descriptions for the board to discuss: a special education paraeducator for cognitive support needs and a speech language pathologist assistant. The former supports the cognitive support needs program but can also function in other capacities at various school locations, she said. The latter requires a pay range modification to stay competitive in the job market, she said.
   
   The board approved this item at the June 26 special meeting.
   
   Audra Lane, campus director at SCHS, presented a proposal for new elective courses at each of the grade levels at SCHS called the Advancement Via Individual Determination Elective course program.
   
   Victor Santiago, a Spanish teacher at SCHS, is an advocate and trained instructor for the AVID program, and said, “The AVID Elective program helps give students in the academic middle the motivation and support they need to succeed. Just one class has a transformative effect on the entire culture.”
   
   The board approved this item at the June 26 meeting.
   
   Almeida presented a proposal for a new policy that would govern the implementation of arming security guards on school grounds. Getting the policy approved is the first step in the implementation process and any armed security guards would be required to achieve the Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training certification, like any other peace officers in the region, he said.
   
   “This is not the be-all-end-all in security at D 49,” Almeida said. If approved, the policy would represent the first of its kind in Colorado, he said.
   
   The board approved this item at the June 26 meeting.
   
   John Newbill, District Accountability Advisory Committee representative, presented a list of project ideas they would like to see in the district’s budget, consisting of ideas submitted from each school’s accountability committee.
   
   Ridgway presented a supplemental budget request for the 2019-2020 school year that would quantify appropriate mill levy override fund balance requirements going forward, identify any specific ownership tax accumulation that can be released to meet fund balance requirements and to identify priorities to which those released funds can be applied.
   
   The board approved this item at the June 26 meeting.
   
   Ridgway also presented the proposed 2019-2020 charter school budgets and the proposed 2019-2020 budget for the district. Representatives from Guided Online Academic Learning Academy, Liberty Tree Academy, Grand Peak Academy, Pikes Peak School of Expeditionary Learning, Power Technical and Rocky Mountain Classical Academy charter schools presented additional information on their budgets.
   
   The board approved both budget items at the June 26 meeting.
   
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is July 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the D 49 Education Services Center.
  
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  New charter school seeks authorization
  Submitted news release

   Five community outreach and informational meetings were held in June in different areas of El Paso County Colorado School District 49 by the Pioneer Technology & Arts Academy Colorado, which is seeking authorization from D 49 to establish a PTECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) engineering and technology school. The PTAA seeks a four-year charter to open a K-8 campus in 2020 and add additional grades every year to eventually become a K-12th grade PTECH campus, offering dual credits and internships to all high school students.
   
   The mission of PTAA is to empower and engage students to reach their full potential as global leaders who will enhance their communities and the world through creativity, collaboration and innovation.
   
   PTAA is an engineering and technology STEM school that offers classes beyond the core subjects. Those classes include computer science and engineering, Chinese, Spanish, art and music. In this highly competitive world, students need proper tools, ideas and knowledge to stay above national and international graduating standards.
   
   The PTECH program will offer several high-need career pathways and work with local community colleges and universities to provide dual credit courses to future PTAA high schoolers so they may graduate with an associate degree. In addition to dual credit, PTAA has several community partners to provide opportunities like work site visits, mentorships, internships and externships for students to be better prepared to enter the workforce.
   
   PTAA also has partnerships with Brazil, India and China (BRICS Nations) schools to expose, challenge and mentor students with their foreign peers in the fastest growing economies. Students in the foreign exchange program may elect to take six-month courses in sister schools in China, Brazil and India during the senior year of high school.
  
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