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When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.
– Henry Ford  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 5 May 2020  

None Black Forest News   None Book Review   None Community Calendar   None Did You Know?  
None FFPD News   None From the Publisher   None Letters to the Editor   None Marks Meanderings  
None Monkey Business   None News Briefs   None News From D 49   None People on the Plains  
None Pet Adoption Corner   None Pet Care   None Phun Photos   None Prairie Life  
Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In
  July 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 July.
   Board update
   John Graham, vice president, reminded everyone to pay attention to the traffic signals near schools, especially along Londonderry Drive where a new stop sign was installed. Students and drivers need to remain vigilant to keep everyone safe, he said.
   Marie LaVere-Wright, president, said she wanted to make people aware that there are several veterans’ services in the area that offer resources to the children of veterans from any era, regardless of their discharge status.
   Chief officers’ update
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said there is a new registration process for district transportation.
   Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, said the human resources department has hired about 200 new staff members and expects another 40 to 50 with the opening of Inspiration View Elementary School.
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said the POWER zone received special recognition for the overall performance of its schools and earned a High Reliability Schools designation from Marzano Research, an educational consulting firm in Centennial, Colorado.
   He said the Falcon zone has implemented an improvement plan through Modern Teacher LLC, an educational institution in Denver.
   “It is great to see all of our zones adopting different performance improvement methodologies,” Hilts said.
   Open forum
   Six community members spoke in favor of the charter school application for Spacious Skies Charter School; two spoke in favor of the Mountain View Academy charter school application; and two people spoke in favor of the Pioneer Technology and Arts Academy charter school application. Two other community members sent emails to the board in favor of PTAA.
   Action items
   The BOE unanimously approved the following:
  • A resolution to participate in the coordinated election on Nov. 5 and to appoint Donna Garza, executive assistant to the BOE, as the designated election official
  • A resolution to call for nominations for school board director candidates from director districts 2, 3 and 4
  • Revisions to the following policies: nondiscrimination/equal opportunity; school board meetings; cooperative purchasing and “piggybacking” contracts; catastrophic leave bank; professional staff supplementary pay plans; substitute support staff employment; English language learner; students in foster care; student absences and excuses; students fees, fines and charges; and stakeholder grievance process
  • Revisions to the Students Rights and Responsibilities Handbook to include compliance officer contact information
  • Revisions to the coordinator of title programs and the education technology technician job descriptions, the former is a grant-funded position; and approval of the new title programs manager job description, which is also grant-funded
  • Revisions of the following business office policies: annual budget; budget planning, adoption, implementation; funds from local tax sources; loan programs; insurance program –- risk management; and workers compensation
  • A resolution for capital lease financing with Kansas State Bank for six buses
  • Conditional approval of the Mountain View Academy and Spacious Skies Charter School contracts

   After some discussion, the board denied the application for the Pioneer Technology and Arts Academy charter school in a 4-1 vote with Graham opposed.
   After much discussion, the BOE unanimously approved a resolution to pursue the land dedication transfer for already dedicated property near the Forest Meadows subdivision, owned by Aspen View Homes. Ridgway said the property had already been dedicated to D 49 for a school site, along with property owned by Challenger Homes, which donated land for the newly constructed Grand Peak Academy charter school. The difference is that Aspen View does not want to transfer the land to D 49 like Challenger Homes did and thus far has not paid any fees in lieu of land, as is common practice by developers in EPC, he said.
   According to the resolution, “The current owner feigned ignorance on their responsibility to transfer the parcel and with conversations, written and verbal, with the City of Colorado Springs, have indicated their intention not to honor the dedication requirement.”
   Melissa Andrews, community and facilities planning manager, said no other developer in D 49 or any other district has ever refused to pay the fees in lieu of land or to honor a dedicated school site.
   “Pursing this honors the former contracts with other developers who have done the right thing and what they have already done,” Ridgway said. “They (other developers) support this action.”
   Discussion items
   Matt Willhelm, project manager with Wember Inc., updated the board about work on the 3B mill levy override Priority 2 projects, and said all the projects that were scheduled for completion before the school year begins are on track.
   Paul Andersen, director of human resources, updated the board on the guest teacher pilot program launched at Horizon Middle School in December 2018. The program, called Tagg Education, was expanded to five additional schools in the spring of 2019, and intends to address the lack of guest teachers within the district by accessing a new pool of talent through a third-party supplier of guest teachers.
   “We want to get to the point where just about any teacher can be guaranteed to have a quality person in the classroom (if they need a substitute teacher),” Andersen said.
   Graham said the intent is not to have the Tagg program replace the traditional guest teaching program but to end up with a mix of guest teachers from both pools.
   The BOE agreed to move revisions to the policy regarding evaluation of the chief officers forward for action in August.
   Ridgway presented an item proposing adjustments to the expense authorization reimbursement policy, which he said would address issues about how things like mileage reimbursement are handled before they become issues. Graham said he feels the way the district currently handles these items is more responsible to taxpayers.
   LaVere-Wright requested the addition of a work session on May 27 and the item was moved forward for action in August.
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is Aug. 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the D 49 Education Services Center.
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  D 49 celebrates grand opening of new school
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On July 22, the El Paso County Colorado School District 49 celebrated the grand opening of Inspiration View Elementary School at 9233 Vista del Pico Boulevard in Banning Lewis Ranch. Teachers, district staff, school board members, community members, parents and future students all gathered outside the school for a brief presentation and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
   The two-story, 70,554-square-foot facility will serve Pre-K through fifth grade and provide space for the Falcon Homeschool Enrichment Program. Students will learn through an integrated arts curriculum, which uses the arts as the focus of learning, guiding how the other subjects are taught.
   Marie LaVere-Wright, D 49 Board of Education president, said, “I think the school is an incredible testament to our community, both in terms of the financial from our taxpayers and other community members to the support of the integrated arts approach we have planned for this school.”
   Kristy Rigdon, IVES principal, said the school is all about fostering the passions and talents of each student.
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said, “The parents are making a big commitment in trusting us with their children in a new school, and we do not take that lightly. Thank you.”
Inspiration View Elementary School held a ribbon cutting ceremony in July. The school uses the arts as a focus of learning. Photo by Lindsey Harrison
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