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El Paso County Colorado District 49

And the beat goes on … D 49 meeting updates

Two special D 49 board of education meetings were held June 21 and June 27.June 21 meetingBoard director Amy McClelland proposed a time limit for agenda items citing a work session that was to take place immediately following the meeting. President Dave Martin announced the resignation of Andy Holloman as the Falcon Community Builders for Classrooms representative to the D 49 board.Don McGill, chairman of the Falcon community builders, read a letter to the board regarding the status of the FCBC. McGill cited the accomplishments of the FCBC in the last year, including the formation of a 501(c) (3) to collect voluntary impact fees from developers and builders to aide the district in capital construction. McGill also noted that the FCBC supported the mill levy campaign and spent approximately $50,000 to promote the issue. The FCBC hired Schooler & Associates to collect the voluntary fees, which today are in excess of $860,000. The funds are being held in a money market account collecting interest. FCBC also hired certified public accountants Biggs Kofford for consultation and to review and audit the FCBC on an annual basis.McGill also questioned the board on its motives regarding another 501(c) (3) formed by Brian Murphy and Kjirsten Forsyth on May 15. The second nonprofit offered an alternative method of payment to national builders paying voluntary impact fees without a written agreement. Holloman and Martin met with national builders on their own initiative, without notifying the FCBC, McGill said. He told the board the FCBC has lost their ability to leverage the national builders, given the opportunity to pay impact fees without a written agreement. McGill said he wanted answers regarding the “Commitment for Kids Educational Fund” and asked the board to respond in writing. He also requested that Holloman resign, that the new 501(c) (3) be dissolved by a resolution of the D 49 board of education and all monies collected be assigned to the FCBC so they can bond the revenue stream to provide classrooms.Darryl Glenn, Colorado Springs City Council member, addressed the board stating that he was pleased with the FCBC and has attended all of their meetings. “The members of the FCBC have really stepped up to the plate,” Glenn said. He also talked of the group’s experience and the referred to Dr. Steven Hull, D 49, now former superintendent, as a person of honor and integrity.Diane Holbrook, co-chair of the District Accountability Advisory Committee, cited 21 board policies the D 49 board has ignored. Martin requested the policies in question and said the board would “look into it.”McClelland said she wanted to review them first. Holbrook asked the board if they have read the school board policies, and only Martin responded. He had read some of them. Bartha said she had asked Hull for a copy but did not receive one. Hollbrook informed Bartha that all policies were available on the D 49 Web site. Bartha said she has had trouble getting online.Holbrook told the board that communication appears to be a major problem with the board. She cited the principals’ reports on the “no confidence vote” on Hull. Holbrook said the board instigated the no confidence vote by pulling the principals’ contracts for review, which led the principals to believe that Hull was not going to renew their contracts. Martin responded directly to Holbrook: “Are all your problems with the board, or are there other problems in the district?” Martin also said he felt “ambushed” by Holbrook’s comments.June 27 meetingA standing room-only crowd was at this meeting to witness the D 49 board’s evaluation of Steven Hull, superintendent. Hull requested that his evaluation be done publicly as he felt his job was on the line for reasons that he didn’t understand. Before the evaluation began, community members spoke overwhelming in favor of Hull. Paul Strokeman told the board he didn’t trust any of them and at least Hull provided a vision for district. Former board member Judy Holman said that she supported Hull and accused the board of “taking the district apart piece by piece.” Ellen Duckers wore a T-shirt calling for a recall of the board and held a sign through the proceeding stating the same.A few spoke in favor of the board against Hull. Board member Amy McClelland’s husband, Jeff McClelland, said that his wife, Bartha and Stark have shaken the tradition of rubber stamping school administrators’ decisions. Mark Shook also said he supported the board and encouraged them to let Hull go. Others spoke of receiving e-mails from Anna Bartha’s husband asking them to attend the meeting and support the board.After open forum ended, the board called an executive session to discuss how the evaluation would be conducted with D 49’s attorney and Hull’s attorney. Immediately upon reconvening, Hull read a statement regarding his accomplishments since joining D 49. He spoke of his contribution with regard to passing the mill levy, instituting school choice with the charter schools and Odyssey Elementary and High School No.3, which will have a math and science focus.After his self-evaluation, heated exchanges occurred between the board and Hull.Board director Dave Stark accused Hull of speaking disparagingly to staff about board members. Hull said he has been frustrated with the board and he had been told that certain board members were calling his staff at home and questioning them about Hull. He reiterated his displeasure of finding out about the principals’ no-confidence vote from a Gazette reporter as well as the board holding a closed-door meeting with the principals without informing him. Hull asked for specific examples and clarification that merited poor performance on his part. Hull’s wife, Marian Hull, said, “This is more like the Spanish Inquisition than a performance evaluation.” The sparring went back and forth until the D 49 attorney said that they were getting dangerously close to things discussed in executive session.The evening ended with Hull again asking the board to invite representatives from the Colorado Association of School Boards to help him and the board work through their issues. The board did not complete Hull’s evaluation.July 6 regularly scheduled board meetingBoard director Dave Stark asked that the “strategic plan” item be removed from the discussion items. Hull objected stating that it would take only 10 minutes to present the information the board requested when the Cambridge Group’s Model for strategic planning was previously discussed. Martin responded that it would be dealt with in a work session.Construction manager Jim Walsh updated the group on current projects: All projects are under budget and ahead of schedule, but not included was the new Falcon High School or High School No. 3.The open forum was a continuation of public support for Hull. Dave Pratt, a local police officer and parent, urged the board to learn the laws and policies that govern them. He also said that the board should honor Hull’s contract and not interfere with Hull and his employees. Joe Cole, former D 49 communications director, told the board that it was a hard decision to leave D 49 as Hull was the best boss he had ever worked with. Cole also said that Hull is innovative and is moving the district forward from being a good district to a great one. He thanked everyone for their support.On other notes:Lori Dion, coach for the “Just Jump” jump roping team, said the team won 73 medals at the Junior Olympics in San Francisco. The team also won “Team Show.” The Rocky Mountain Charter Academy site agreement was approved for 10 years.Jody Fletcher, the liaison between the military and schools, spoke to the board regarding Hull. She told the board that Hull is extremely respected in the community. Twenty percent of D 49 has active duty military parents, and Hull has been involved in student transition. She told the board that she had received more than 150 phone calls in the previous two weeks regarding the problems with the district. Fletcher told the board, “Think before you act.”The meeting ended with Martin stating that he needed time to collect information from the other board members before he could finish Hull’s evaluation. He also wanted to consult with the district attorney. However, on July 13, Steven Hull submitted his resignation as superintendent of Falcon School District, citing differences with the board.A D 49 July 19 workshop was held as well, and a special board meeting is scheduled for July 27 to discuss the applicants for the open board seat and the position of interim superintendent.

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