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El Paso County Colorado District 49

BOE board meeting

The El Paso County School District 49 Board of Education held its monthly meeting Jan. 13.Amy Matisek, internal communications manager, started the Fantastic 49 celebration theme with staff who go above and beyond to develop trust with the students: Kim Marshall, math teacher, Skyview Middle School; Sandy Hogan, (teacher on special assignment), special education compliance, individualized education; Leatha Hansz, compliance assistant, individualized education; Jessica Odell, social worker, Stetson Elementary School and Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy; Master Sergeant Anthony Rush, JROTC instructor, Vista Ridge High School; Ines Stabler, instructional coach, culturally and linguistically diverse education.Open forumHelen Williams, grandmother, said, ìI disagree with having vaccine vans and clinics during school times, which is meant to be for teaching. There also needs to be a parent present for every child under 18 who receives the vaccine.îLisa Robinson, homeowner, said, ìThe teachers union costs $79 a month; only $19 of that goes to liability insurance. The Professional Association of Colorado Educators is $16.50 a month; most teachers are unaware of it or that they have a choice. PACE offers $2 million in liability insurance a year, scholarships, grants and more.îChief officer updatePedro Almeida, chief operations officer, reported on the two major construction projects; the Bennet Ranch Elementary School addition groundbreaking is planned for February; the MS23226 (the new middle school) start date is postponed.In response to an open forum speaker at Decemberís meeting, Almeida said, ìThose comments were pointed to the gay community. My commitment is to insure we listen to and respect all of our folks, regardless of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation etc.; and, as a district, we stand behind our students and staff across the board.îBrett Ridgway, chief business officer, said the completed audit report can be found on the website. Ridgeway said, ìA bill that I believe will be called, ëState Match for Mill Levy Override Revenues,í is still in draft phase,î he said. If passed, it will provide a 30% match on investments for school districts like D 49 (highly residential) to ensure the amount of investment one community is making derives the same amount of impact as other communities, which at present, it does not, Ridgway said.Peter Hilts, chief education officer, thanked everyone who led the annual wellness summit about ìTrauma Informed Careî at Sand Creek High School. He also responded to the forum speaker from Decemberís meeting and said, ìIn our community, the standard of care is higher than the law of how we treat each other. I want to make sure our staff and students know there were things said about you as a group that are not true for who you are as an individual, and we know those kinds of statements can be hurtful and harmful; those are not the districtís statements.”Board updateJohn Graham, board president, said, ìThe teachers are tired and worn out; they are trying to catch the students up.î He said there are plans to hire full-time employees to be permanent substitutes and to bring in additional interventionists or extra paraprofessionals to help students catch up.Rick Van Wieren, vice president, said he visited Springs Studio for Academic Excellence and recognized their innovative approach. ìD 49 has had an innovative vision for many years around school choice,î he said. ìPeter Hilts has been an impassioned advocate for school choice for many years and is partly why our district has so many choices.îLucy Liu, treasurer, said she has visited 24 out of the 26 schools and is impressed with how hard all the principals and staff are working. ìI see great things happening like preventative thinking, preemptive action and moving teachers around to work with their strengths,î she said.Lori Thompson, secretary, said she also visited Springs Studio for Academic Excellence and appreciated their hybrid learning opportunity, open concept and early college opportunities. She encouraged D 49 to investigate PACE for their teachers.Jamilynn DíAvola, director, visited a few schools, including Ridgeview Elementary School and acknowledged the Capturing Kids Hearts Program.Action itemsThe BOE unanimously approved the following:

  • To extend the charter renewal application of Pikes Peak School of Expeditionary Learning to February 2022
  • To temporarily approve the submitted policy language change recommendations regarding physical intervention and restraint, as recommended by the administration
  • Approved all policies recommended by the administration as part of the ongoing review of policies
  • Graduation requirement
    • Entrance age requirements
    • Admission and denial of admission
    • Intra-district choice/open enrollment
    • Inter-district choice/ open enrollment

Discussion itemsJeff Chamberlain, executive director of learning services, discussed changes to graduation policy recommendations, which focuses on students maintaining a C grade or higher to graduate vs. credit accumulation.†Paul Andersen, director of human resources, provided the State of the Workforce Annual Report, which addresses the districtís workforce, prioritization of issues, opportunities and challenges.Jim Rohr, purchasing and contracts manager, reported on the external partners and vendors that contract with D 49. He said last year they spent $38.6 million on 2,662 external vendors.Ron Sprinz, director of finance, discussed the current student enrollment trends and potential impacts to the districtís budget. The board directed the chiefs to bring options to the January special meeting regarding higher pay and other ways to support the staff. Ridgeway said, ìFor the record, at present we already spend 80% of the budget on people.îBrad Miller, legal counsel, reviewed the terms of the generic chief officer contract.ìThe D 49 chiefs get paid less than their peers in the area,î he said. Miller said at present the contracts are for one year; he recommended having multi-year contracts.Graham said the annual planning summit, scheduled for Feb. 5, is open to the public. The summit provides attendees the opportunity to examine the districtís strategic and cultural priorities at a more detailed level.The next regular meeting of the BOE is Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs.

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