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Autumn teaches us a valuable lesson. During summer, all the green trees are beautiful. But there is no time of the year when the trees are more beautiful than when they are different colors. Diversity adds beauty to our world.
– Donald H. Hicks, "Look into the stillnes"  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 9 September 2020  

None Book Review   None Community Calendar   None Community Photos   None Did You Know?  
None Editorial   None FFPD News   None From the Publisher   None Marks Meanderings  
None Monkey Business   None News From D 49   None People on the Plains   None Pet Adoption Corner  
None Pet Care   None Phun Photos   None Prairie Life   None Wildlife Matters  
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  November 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 November. Mikayla Lee and Ki’Arey Love, 12th grade students at Sand Creek High School, also attended as members of the student board of representatives.
   Before the regular meeting, the BOE held a “Fantastic 49” and recognized the following: Boy Scout Troop #149 for their exemplary display of loyalty and helpfulness; the Student 2 Student group from Falcon High School for promoting positivity through relationships with the military-connected students of D 49; and the local military bases for their partnerships with the district.
   Board update
   John Graham, vice president, said he attended the Colorado School Board Association conference and successfully advocated for three of the four positions D 49 presented. Graham also said he attended a Department of Justice educational activity conference, and said the DOJ was enthusiastic about what the district is doing with grant money it has received from the department.
   Additionally, Graham said he attended a Rocky Mountain restorative practices conference, at which Rocio Padilla, counselor at Remington Elementary School and Suzy Ancell, assistant principal at RES, presented. He suggested Padilla and Ancell present their successes to the board.
   Chief officers’ update
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said he has been meeting with various student groups as part of the Voice of the Learning group tour.
   Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, said he attended the Colorado School Business Officials conference in October and participated on a couple of panels.
   Action items
   The BOE unanimously approved the following:
  • A new architecture studio course proposal at the Springs Studio for Academic Excellence
  • New and revised course proposals at FHS: treble choir and tenor/bass choir; plant science and greenhouse management; physics 1 and physics 2; World War II literature; English editing and revision; partners in physical education; and senior capstone
  • Review of the staff ethics/conflict of interest policy
  • A resolution celebrating American Education Week from Nov. 18-22
  • A resolution for the use of charter buses to transport district students to and from school events
  • Revisions to board policies regarding concurrent enrollment as follows: concurrent enrollment; Accelerating Students through Concurrent Enrollment; and weighted grading
  • A waiver request, rationale and replacement plan by the Liberty Tree Academy for the school’s preschool individualized readiness plan
  • A resolution allowing Ridgway to finish contract negotiations and to sign a new IT contract between the district and Sentinel Technologies

   Discussion items
   Ken Witt, executive director of the Education reEnvisioned Board of Cooperative Educational Services, updated the board on the progress the organization has made and how it intends to decrease its dependence on services from D 49, while continuing to serve school districts in need.
   Jim Tanner, IT quality assurance manager, provided an update on the district’s wireless access point upgrade project. He said the infrastructure was lacking but the upgrade has dramatically improved connectivity. All schools have been upgraded and the backup server should be ready by the end of the first quarter in 2020.
   “We are still fine-tuning things because the devices we purchased are working better than we thought they would,” he said.
   Marie La Vere-Wright, president, said she has already noticed a huge difference in the performance of the wireless system, and said, “This is critical to serving our students and our teachers.”
   Ron Sprinz, finance group manager, updated the board of the district’s enrollment numbers and said the district has about 300 more students than last year.
   Ridgway said the district grew by more students than they budgeted for, but he said that is positive for the district.
   David Nancarrow, director of communications, reported on the communication department’s progress and various enhancement projects. He said his department has received 14 outstanding awards for communications.
   Samantha Dosen-Himelrick, digital communications manager, said the department has completed its goals from last November, and she described the new look of the D 49 website; including how it is customized for every school.
   La Vere-Wright presented information about the BOE composition following the Nov. 5 election, including the vacancy in director district 4 since Josh Fry, the representative from that district, will no longer be on the board. She said the vacancy means the board can appointment someone to that seat.
   Dave Watson, director of security and safety, presented a proposal for an armed security officer position. The timeline for hiring the proposed nine officers is from November 2019 to January 2020, with February slated to conduct background checks and late February through March to conduct a one-week training academy for the selected applicants. Ideally, the selected officers would begin in the spring, if not sooner, he said.
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said the hiring process will be honed moving forward. “We are not sure how long the hiring process will take,” he said. “We want to make sure we get the right person and we will not compromise our standards.”
   The job description item was unanimously approved at a special board meeting on Nov. 20.
   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 Dec. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the D 49 Education Services Center.
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  New D 49 BOE member
  By Lindsey Harrison

   The El Paso County Colorado School District 49’s Board of Education will look a little different at the regular meeting on Dec. 12. Marie La Vere-Wright, who served for eight years and is now term-limited, and Josh Fry, who served for almost two years, have completed their time with the BOE in November. La Vere-Wright and Fry represented Districts 3 and 4, respectively.
   Newly elected BOE member Rick Van Wieren will take over District 2, left vacant by John Graham, BOE vice president, who moved into District 3 and took La Vere-Wright’s place.
   Van Wieren, who has lived in the Colorado Springs area since 1991, said he and his wife built their house a couple years ago; and, when he learned of the vacancy in his district, he became serious about running for the seat.
   “I felt that I have enough board experience with charter school stuff in the past,” Van Wieren said. “I felt that I could make a difference so I started learning more and more things about the district that I liked and that were synergistic with my background.”
   Van Wieren said he and his wife were part of the founding team for New Summit Charter School in Academy School District 20; he was president of the board for the first year at Lewis-Palmer Charter School, now known as The Monument Academy in Lewis-Palmer School District 38.
   That experience, coupled with his 28 years as a real estate agent, gives him a unique perspective that will benefit the BOE, he said. “I have a degree in business, and a business perspective is important to any school board,” Van Wieren said.
   Van Wieren will serve a four-year term; during that time, he said he plans to bring his passion for education to the district.
   “I really believe in the saying that the children are the seeds of our future,” he said. “I am very passionate about making sure our kids are prepared to be productive, contributing citizens and informed voters because that is ultimately where our future lies.
   “I want to make sure our schools are positioned in a way that can help with that and help prepare these kids for life. I believe that is where the rest of the board’s hearts are, too.”
Newly elected D 49 Board of Education director Rick Van Wieren will take over District 2, left vacant by John Graham, who moved into District 3 and replaced Marie La Vere-Wright.
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