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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Board meeting updates

In addition to the regular School District 49 September board meeting, an additional special board meeting was held Oct. 11.Oct. 5 BOE monthly meeting:The board meeting came to order with about 20 people in attendance. Anna Bartha was absent with prior notice.Board member Dave Stark told the audience that all five board members attended the regional Colorado Association of School Boards seminar. He also said the board retreat was productive.Board member Amy McClelland said that she had been working on personnel issues like how to hire, retain and train great teachers and staff. She also spoke about her concern regarding security issues and background checks on employees and volunteers.Randy Brungardt said he has been researching communication issues. He said the district is behind in aspects of communication and is exploring ways to improve it. Dave Martin cited the board retreat and said they worked with Superintendent Wright on her job description and goals for the school year.Martin also talked about security issues. “We are not taking the attitude that it could not happen to us,” he said, referring to the recent school shootings in Colorado and Pennsylvania.Superintendent Wright described her day at Sand Creek High School after it was put on lockdown because of a disgruntled parent. She commended the staff for their role in keeping the school on task, adding that the students remained calm.Becky Carter, director of elementary learning services, briefed the board on the district’s security plans. Carter said they are reviewing the crisis plan and practicing drills at each school. They asked the El Paso County Sheriff and the Colorado Springs Police Department to review the plans and suggest improvements. The PTA is encouraged to participate as well.. School principals will conduct tabletop scenarios with teachers and staff to prepare for different security issues. Sandy Collins, director of secondary services, also spent the day at Sand Creek High School during the lockdown. Collins explained the security levels.Level 1 indicates “heightened awareness.” The school is on lockdown and students are not allowed to leave the building without a parent or until the school day has ended. Level 2 is defined as a “heightened threat.” There is a threat in the vicinity but not in the building itself, and instruction continues as usual.Level 3 indicates that the threat is in the building. All students must remain in the classrooms, which are locked. The windows are covered, students must remain quiet, and class instruction is terminated.Collins said she asked the district transportation to update evacuation sites and policies and procedures so they can inform the community. “We need to evaluate the safety of the children within the modulars and how to move them into the main buildings if we need to,” Collins said. She also said that law enforcement has blueprints of all the schools.Wright congratulated Falcon High School on its new program, “Health Academy.” School Nurse Lorraine Ours-Garcia heads the program, which allows students to earn high school graduation credits as well as college credits. (Read more about the program in next month’s NFH.) FHS also is looking at an emergency medical technician program for duel credit. Wright noted that no other school in the Pikes Peak region is offering these programs.Steve Jaszai apologized for derogatory remarks he made to the board at a previous meeting during open forum.Wright asked the board for a resolution against Amendment 39. She said that only two districts in Colorado have not approved a resolution against it. Board member Brungardt said if the amendment passed, special services would have to be cut. Amendment 39 requires school districts to spend 65 percent of all funds inside the classroom. Wright also said Amendment 39 takes away local control and allows the state to decide what is and what isn’t needed within the district.R.J. Berry presented “Santa’s Toy Express.” Each year, D 49 school bus drivers donate their own money and time to support D 49 students and their families during Christmas. Falcon School District allows the drivers to use school buses (aka Santa’s sleigh) to transport elementary students to KMART to purchase gifts for family members. Each student receives a new winter coat, $10 to buy something personal and $30 to spend on Christmas presents. The drivers and volunteers help the students wrap their gifts and provide them with a $25 food certificate.Oct. 11 special board meeting:Wright said the district had received two more charter school applications from Banning Lewis. Becky Carter is heading the team that will review the applications.Board member Dave Stark read a resolution that the district recognizes and supports the 501(c)(3) formed by the Falcon Community Builders for Classrooms. The resolution was in response to the FCBC’s demand, made by FCBC chairman Don McGill at the June meeting, that a second 501(c)(3) formed by Kjirsten Forsyth and Brian Murphy be disbanded and all monies turned over to the FCBC. The FCBC collects $1,500 per home permit to aid in the building of district schools. The FCBC has collected more than $1 million. The resolution was passed as well as a resolution against Amendment 39. Laine Gibson, financial officer for the district, presented the budget for the 2006-2007 school year. Gibson said, despite the opening of two charter schools, the district has grown by 550 students to date. The final numbers based on the Oct. 1 count date have not been compiled.The next board of education regular meeting is Nov. 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the central administration building.

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