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“I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
– Henry David Thoreau  
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 10 October 2019  

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  September 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 meeting in September, except Josh Fry, director, who was absent with notice.
   
   Before the regular meeting, the BOE held a “Fantastic 49” and honored the following: Adriane Jasper from the Personal Excellence and Academic Knowledge program and Tammy Peterson from the Falcon Homeschool Program as Teachers of the Year; Sandi Heckel, paraprofessional at the FHP, for her willingness to help; and Chantel Hodges, district building custodial supervisor, for consistently ensuring the facilities work orders are handled quickly and efficiently.
   
   Board update
   Kevin Butcher, treasurer, said the BOE had a dinner for the new student board of representatives prior to the regular meeting. He said their input is valuable.
   
   John Graham, vice president, said he attended the special education advisory committee’s resource fair Sept. 7 — between 40 and 50 vendors were present.
   
   Marie LaVere-Wright, president, said she also attended the SEAC resource fair and noticed parents from other districts attended to see what resources were available. Also, she said September is National Suicide Awareness Month and urged the community to raise awareness by continuing to have conversations about suicide.
   
   Chief officers’ update
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said the district has all the Blue Point Alert System hardware to install in all secondary schools in D 49.
   
   Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, said he has been in legislative meetings on school finance. He said the future looks positive.
   
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said the district kicked off a Voice of the Students initiative and has been meeting with students from the different types of schools. He also congratulated Jasper and Peterson for being two of the seven total teachers from across the state to be nominated for Colorado State Teacher of the Year. “We would be proud to be represented by either one of them,” Hilts said.
   
   Open forum
   Five people from the community spoke in opposition to House Bill 19-1032, Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education. The concern was that the state of Colorado appears to be overreaching by trying to dictate what children learn about human sexuality, when they learn it and how it is taught.
   
   Action items
   The BOE unanimously approved the following:
  • Graduation dates and times for the class of 2020 at the World Arena: May 23 at 9 a.m. for Vista Ridge High School, 1 p.m. for Sand Creek High School and 5 p.m. for Falcon High School
  • Revisions to the following policies: accountability/commitment to accomplishment; BOE evaluation and professional development; board member qualifications; career and technical education advisory council; disaster plan; waste management and recycling; safeguarding personal identifying information; construction contracts bidding and awards; staff fringe employee benefits; staff professional development; administrative staff assignments and transfers; law-related education; character education; religion in the curriculum; teaching about drugs, alcohol and tobacco; special education programs for students with disabilities; homebound instruction; teaching controversial/sensitive issues; sexual harassment; nonresident tuition charges; student expression rights; students of legal age; pregnant/married students; discipline of students with disabilities; student detention; disciplinary removal from classroom; screening/testing of students; students with food or environmental allergies; early dismissal of students; parent involvement in education; and public concerns/complaints about instructional resources
  • A resolution proclaiming Sept. 17 as National Constitution Day
  • A charter contract with Mountain View Academy Charter School
  • A charter contract with Spacious Skies Charter School
  • Authorization for the business office to formally request the transfer of a previously dedicated parcel of land, located at 2103 Meadowbrook Parkway in Colorado Springs, known as “the Claremont Ranch site,” into the D 49 land portfolio
  • The portfolio of schools coordinator job description
  • The revised home-based education specialist and general education para-educator and registrar job descriptions
  • Authorization for the CBO to secure financing for $6 million for construction of the Pikes Peak Early College expansion at the Springs Studio for Academic Excellence facility, and to pursue all permitting and contracting needs to complete the project for the 2020-2021 school year
  • The annual contract with the Pikes Peak Board of Cooperative Educational Services

   Discussion items
   Ron Lee, director of the 3B mill levy override, gave a brief update on the 3B MLO projects and said almost all have been completed.
   
   Elaine Cunningham, dean of early childhood education; Patsy Prettyman, nursing services team leader; and Karen Sandidge, dean of PEAK programs, described their departments’ strengths, opportunities for improvement and how to make those improvements.
   
   Andy Franko, iConnect Zone leader, requested that the board consider an off-cycle charter school application review. He said his team’s recommendation is to allow for the off-cycle review of a new application, not the application that has already been submitted. The BOE agreed to allow for the application review.
   
   Tina Vidovich, iConnect Zone operations administrator, presented various data sets to illustrate academic performance and growth within her zone.
   
   Hilts presented information on legislation that could have significant impacts on the districts. Senate Bill 19-176 addresses concurrent enrollment and would require D 49 to pay different tuition rates for students concurrently enrolled in high school and college classes. Instead of paying tuition at the Pikes Peak Community College rate, it would have to pay for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs rate, which is higher, he said.
   
   “Paying university rates versus community college rates could really impact our budget and the course options available to students,” Hilts said.
   
   Hilts said HB19-1032, Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education, does not affect the district because the current policy regarding comprehensive health education allows for parents to opt their students out of that class.
   
   “Everything is already taught in a health perspective and is medically based,” he said. “If we change nothing about our policy, the curriculum or the instruction of that curriculum, we are fully compliant with HB19-1032 while maintaining our values in our cultural compass. We are confident that what we already do in D 49 will continue to be right.”
   
   Hilts presented proposed revisions to the BOE policy on public participation at board meetings, which describe a more explicit practice of how to handle an instance when a person intentionally or unintentionally identifies a specific staff member during public comment.
   
   The board unanimously agreed to move this item forward for action at the October meeting.
   
   Following the regular session, the BOE held an executive session for discussion of the chief operations officer’s evaluation and performance review. No action was taken at that time.
   
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is Oct. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the D 49 Education Services Center.
  
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  Annual D 4.9K Walk/Run –- a family affair
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Sept. 14, the El Paso County Colorado School District 49 hosted the third annual D 4.9K Walk/Run at Falcon High School. My 11-year-old daughter, Dacey, and I were among the 585 registered participants who showed up on a hot Saturday morning to run almost 3 miles.
   
   The run began on the FHS track and wound around the baseball field, onto the path in the open space behind the school before snaking back around and ending back on the track. The course featured hills and flat areas and was not for the faint of heart. I was unable to run the entire course; however, Dacey ran the whole way and finished about 11 minutes before I did. But I finished; and, for my first official race, I was pretty happy with the outcome.
   
   Hayden Newberg, a student at Skyview Middle School and member of the school’s cross-country team, was the first female to finish with a time of 22:13. Gregory Jemo of Colorado Springs finished first for the men’s group with a time of 21:28.
   
   In addition to the main event, there was a 49-yard dash for kids and a 49-yard dash for the various school mascots who attended. Participants received a goodie bag with a long sleeve T-shirt, and finishers were rewarded with a medal and post-race snacks.
   
   The Golden Shoe, a prize awarded to the D 49 school with the highest number of participants, went to Stetson Elementary School.
  
Participants of the D 4.9K Walk/Run wind their way up path behind Falcon High School. Photos by Lindsey Harrison
 
Lindsey and Dacey Harrison start off the D 4.9K Walk/Run all smiles. Immediately following this photo, Dacey ran ahead, abandoning Lindsey to run the race alone.
 
Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer with D 49, races through the finish line at the D 4.9K Walk/Run.
 
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