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El Paso County Colorado District 49

April BOE meeting wrap-up

All members of the El Paso County Colorado School District 49 Board of Education were present at the regular meeting in April. Shelby Gabrielson, a student at Vista Ridge High School, was also present as a member of the student board of representatives.Before the regular meeting, the BOE held a ìFantastic 49î event and honored the following: Jim Coker, bus driver, and Felicia Waggoner, dispatcher, for their effort to find a missing student after school; Yolanda Baird, bus driver, for her skill in building relationships with students; Tonya Schroeder, transportation department trainer, for creating online learning opportunities to train current and new bus drivers; and Paula Pratt, bus driver, and Kim Sherman, paraprofessional, for helping find a studentís missing support dog.Board updateKevin Butcher, vice president, reminded everyone that he is term-limited so his seat as representative for District 5 will be open.John Graham, president, said the districtís attorney has review the latest mandates from Gov. Jared Polis, and the district will follow those guidelines.Chief officersí updateBrett Ridgway, chief business officer, said the human resources department is processing a record number of open positions within the district.Peter Hilts, chief education officer, acknowledged the academic achievements of many students and the athletic achievements of the sports teams throughout the district.Hilts also said Sen. Michael Bennett visited Horizon Middle School; he interacted with teachers and support staff at Horizon.Hilts said the districtís partners at UC Health Field and the Rocky Mountain Vibes baseball team secured a five-star certification for El Paso County health conditions, which means graduates can invite up to 10 guests to the ceremony in May.Open forumJim Robertson, D 49 parent, said, ìWe are deeply concerned with the path being taken by our district in regard to the equity, diversity and inclusion training of our teachers and subsequently the exposure to our children.î He said the training is ultimately critical race theory in sheepís clothing and makes race the prism through which its proponents analyze all aspects of American life.ìCRT material distracts educators and students away from rigorous learning content while also teaching ideas that undermine the value of Americaís ideals,î Robertson said. ìWhile we spend our time teaching our children to hate each other, they are falling further behind in math, reading, civics and history.îOther D 49 community members who addressed concerns about critical race theory/equity/white privilege included the following: Bruce Hutchins, parent; Jim Riggs, grandparent; Jacob Medley, former student; Evan Kimes, former student; Cecil Caywood, grandparent; Jeff Hall, concerned citizen; Sabrina Balister, concerned citizen; and Anna Mitchell, concerned citizen.Graham said the board has not addressed or approved any critical race theory curriculum for students. ìWe are focusing on trying to treat everybody with respect and treating everybody equally,î he said. ìI understand some of the concern is that some people have been treated in a discriminatory fashion Ö and thatís not acceptable in D 49. What is acceptable in D 49 is caring and respect for all.îSkylar Nelson, D 49 parent, spoke regarding the Spacious Skies Charter School and said, ìYou (board members) have the opportunity to give the special needs children in our community a great education in an environment full of love and compassion.îOther D 49 community members who addressed concerns about the Spacious Skies Charter School included Evelyn Cortez-Ford, principal and founder of the school; and Veronica Corral, parent.Action itemsThe BOE unanimously approved the following:

  • Revised job descriptions as follows: special assignment ó special education compliance; individualized education programs specialist; and individualized education compliance assistant
  • The new gifted education specialist job description
  • The unified improvement plants for the schools identified for improvement in 2019
  • The supplemental budget requests for Funds 49 and 10
  • Policy and procedure review as follows: use of video/audio monitoring; student health services/records; and screening/testing of students
  • The personal and professional goals of the COO, CBO and CEO
  • A resolution declaring May 3-7, 2021 as Teacher Appreciation Week
Discussion itemsAndy Franko, iConnect Zone leader, updated the board about the Spacious Skies Charter Schoolís status and said the school has gone through two review cycles and the application was approved with conditions.The board agreed to move this item forward for action at the April 18 special meeting in a 3-1 vote, with Graham opposed.Melissa Andrews, district planner, presented the capital maintenance and improvement priorities for the 2021-2022 school year, which follows the districtís prioritization policy.Jack Pietraallo, transportation director, presented a performance report from his department and said the staffing shortages continue, which could result in the department operating in a reduced manner if the positions cannot be filled.Daniel Payne and C.J. Jilek, co-directors of facilities, presented a performance report on their department.Payne presented an organizational chart that included hiring several positions for the next school year.Jilek said the high number of work orders, more than 10,000 this school year, indicate a need for increased manpower but the size of the workforce and the need to provide a competitive wage are challenges.Jim Tanner, IT service manager, presented a performance report for his department.Rachel Weir, health and wellness specialist, updated the board on health and wellness activities within the district.Ron Sprinz, director of finance, provided an update on the 2021-2022 budget focus, which he said includes an increase of about 5% to the per-pupil rate the district must budget for.The next regular meeting of the BOE is May 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs.

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