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"It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change."
– Leon C. Megginson  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 4 April 2020  

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  January 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 January. Jordan Reynolds, an 11th-grade student from Falcon High School, attended as a member of the student board of representatives.
   
   Before the regular meeting, the BOE held a “Fantastic 49” event and recognized the following: Karen Hobson, administrative assistant at Falcon Middle School, for her work with the parent/teacher/student association and the Veterans Day activities at the school; Kevin Westmoreland, paraprofessional at the PEAK Education Center, for his care and respect of both students and coworkers; Sam Dosen-Himelrick, digital communications manager, for her work developing the D 49 app and updating the D 49 website; and Amy Bremser, media/broadcast specialist, for her dedication to producing high-quality broadcasts and videos.
   
   Chief officers’ update
   Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, said D 49 is now the largest school district in Colorado Springs and the county, serving about 25,800 students. Ridgway also said he is still working on the uniform mill levy and taxpayer equalization bill, and appreciates the time his team has invested.
   
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said the hiring announcements have been placed for the armed security guards the district plans to hire, and there is a solid group of candidates who have applied. He also said construction of the expansion at the Springs Studio for Academic Excellence that will house the Pikes Peak Early College is going well, along with the transition to Sentinel Technologies, which officially took over IT services for D 49 Jan. 1.
   
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said the Voice of the Workplace learning tour focus groups are progressing well and the participants have expressed appreciation for having district leaders listen and make necessary changes. “This (learning tour) seems to be paying off significantly and consistently,” he said.
   
   Student board of representatives’ update
   Reynolds said she attended the Colorado Association of School Boards conference at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs and has been working on ways to better serve the student population and make D 49 a better learning environment for everyone.
   
   Action items
   The BOE unanimously approved the following:
  • A resolution regarding the intent to continue the employment of the three chief officers for 2020-2021
  • The 2020-2021 school family calendar and the preliminary 2021-2022 school family calendar
  • Revisions to the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 Board of Education meeting dates
  • Revisions to the following policies: school board member financial disclosure; executive session; notification of board meetings; and chief officers’ contracts
  • Proposal of three new courses at Sand Creek High School as follows: pre-medical 100, pre-medical 200 and pre-medical 300

   Discussion items
   Nancy Lemmond, Ph.D, executive director of individualized education, presented a proposal for the new job description of culturally and linguistically diverse education community liaison, which would act in a similar function as the district’s other liaisons. She said there are 49 different languages spoken among the student population at D 49, necessitating the proposed position. The position would be funded by Title III funds and will continue until the funds run out or until the job is no longer needed, Lemmond said.
   
   The BOE unanimously approved this item at the special board meeting on Jan. 22.
   
   Ron Sprinz, director of finance, provided an update of the ongoing work to finalize the 2019-2020 amended budget. He said the district had about 100 students more than expected enroll this year, which resulted in a $27 increase in funding for each student. Sprinz also explained recent variations or changes in the amended budget.
   
   The BOE unanimously approved this item at the special board meeting on Jan. 22.
   
   Sprinz also provided an update on the charter schools’ budgets. At the special board meeting, the BOE heard additional information on this item before unanimously approving the budgets for Banning Lewis Academy, Liberty Tree Academy, GOAL (Guided Online Academic Learning Academy) and Pikes Peak School of Expeditionary Learning.
   
   Ridgway presented an update and review of the district’s legal representation, which has declined from the 2012-2013 school year when $352,000 was spent on legal costs. For the 2019-2020 school year, the district will pay $131,000, which is also less than it was in the two previous years, he said. That decline is partly due to the monthly retainer the district pays for legal services from the Miller Law Firm LLC, he said.
   
   “Since that retainer of $9,000 per month has not changed in the last four years, I recommend raising that retainer to $9,500 per month since our legal representatives have done a lot more work for us than what we have had to pay for,” Ridgway said.
   
   The BOE unanimously agreed to direct Ridgway’s team to work the new retainer amount into the next budget cycle.
   
   Other business
   John Graham, president, said the BOE is moving to a new format for board meetings through BoardDocs, which will allow the board to be more precise with keeping track of the votes, and it also will result in a reconfiguration of the board room to accommodate new technology.
   
   Additionally, Graham said the BOE needs to make a decision about the vacant seat on the board in Director District 4. Although only one qualified person has submitted their application for the seat, the board unanimously agreed to conduct public interviews of that applicant and any others who might apply before the deadline.
   
   At the special meeting, the BOE unanimously approved the appointment of a new board member, John Koster.
   
   The next regular meeting of the BOE is Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the D 49 Education Services Center.
  
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