Feature Articles

Back to school

By John Graham, D 49 board president 

It is that time of year when some people look for relief and others dread it! It is “Back to school” time! District 49 is hustling and bustling to get ready! Parents, students, and teachers are busy this time of year and so is everyone else in D 49.    

Our registrar team is busy all year, but it is “ludicrous speed” busy this time of year.    They are diligently updating old records and creating new records of students enrolling in D 49. I hope everyone remembers that D 49 starts two weeks before every other local school district.    

About 150 new teachers, counselors and social workers started on July 24, while returning teachers and staff were back a few days later. Teachers and staff are excited to have students back in school! Events and school start schedules can be found on our Facebook site We typically have many students register in the weeks after school officially starts.    

We have a new superintendent (the old is the new)! Peter Hilts has set a high goal of becoming a District of Distinction and earning the Baldrige Award for a public school district. We have three open school board seats coming up for election in November.    D 49 will hold a “Board Candidate Informational Workshop” Aug. 3 at Peakview Hall between 5 and 7 p.m.      

Our children are important to each of us. Their safety is important and so is their education. I encourage all drivers to take your time and be vigilant as kids will be walking, riding, scootering and skateboarding to schools. Be especially cautious in school zones and around stopped school busses. Every year, we have dozens of violators that put children at risk in these areas. Instruct your kids about the safety plan and danger of getting to and from school.    

Parents that want to make a difference should volunteer to help in their kids’ classroom and school. I know many of us are busy with work and families. I often hear “I have a full-time job.” Well, so do I. Model the behavior you expect of others, especially your kids. There is nothing that shows the value of a child or their education than your time spent with them. It shows how important they are to you and the value you place on their education. Sit with them when you can, talk with them (not just to them), check their homework and read to them or listen to them read to you. Parental engagement is extremely important to the development of children and how they will perform in school.          

Dr. Louis Fletcher, executive director of facilities and operations provided the following updates. D 49 is still busy paving parking lots at several schools, replacing the roof at Sand Creek High School and finishing a softball field at Horizon Middle School. We also have larger capital projects. These projects comprise Fund 49 in our budget: 1) acceleration of the D 49 transportation center, 2) an addition at Vista Ridge High School, 3) completing an addition at Bennett Ranch Elementary School, and 4) an Early Childhood Education facility at Horizon Middle School.

The transportation center is running on schedule and on cost. It will be ready for occupancy during the summer 2024. The addition at Vista Ridge High school, which will enhance career & technical education in the district and ease overcrowding at Vista Ridge, will open in December 2024. The Bennett Ranch addition is complete and ready for occupancy to start the 23-24 school year. The ECE at Horizon Middle School was going to displace programs from existing modular buildings that were scheduled to be renovated for ECE. A facility master plan inspection exposed that the long-term viability of the intended ECE modulars was in jeopardy. Therefore, a decision was made to commission a larger steel building to house the Horizon programs and ultimately the ECE program. This decision saved the district renovation costs and created the conditions for a better long-term home for ECE. This is a win-win for the district and taxpayers!

The middle school project was halted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, claiming jurisdiction over the intended building site due to potential floodplain issues. This school is still in the district’s future, but its start date is dependent on the USACE’s decision to release the site to the developer for mitigation. 

Good stewardship is one of the things that makes D 49 the best choice to learn, work, and lead.

Have a great start to the school year!

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