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El Paso County Colorado District 49

BOE July meeting wrap-up

All members of the El Paso County Colorado School District 49 Board of Education were present at the regular meeting on July 8.Chief officersí updatePeter Hilts, chief executive officer, said El Paso County Public Health and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment does not anticipate requiring masks going into the new school year; they also restored local authority to schools to manage outbreaks related to COVID-19 and other health issues.Brett Ridgeway, chief business officer, said El Paso County School District 49 will see a 100% increase in insurance premium costs equaling $600,000; this is a result of the insurance industry no longer covering wind and hail damage. The deductible will increase from $50,000 to more than $1 million.Pedro Almeida, chief business officer, said there are still 252 positions open in the district; about 100 more than what is usual for this time of year.Open forumThe board approved an increase to the 30-minute time span for comments to 90 minutes, in response to the number of people signed up to speak at the meeting. The majority of the comments addressed the banning of Critical Race Theory at D 49, both pros and cons.Lisa Friedrich, whose grandson attends Liberty Tree Academy, said, ìThe goal of CRT is not about stirring up anger or guilt, itís about generating a spark of consciousness, communication and truth.îTyree Cartlidge, a resident in the district, said, ìCRT is an evil Marxist ideology; it is the opposite of what Martin Luther King taught, which is not to be judged by the color of your skin, but by the content of your character. CRT teaches that if youíre white, youíre an oppressor, and if youíre black, you must be a victim. It teaches segregation and to not be responsible for your own actions but to blame the white oppressor.îAction itemsThe BOE unanimously approved the following:

  • Revisions to the Students Rights and Responsibilities Handbook
  • Renewal of the Power Technical Early College charter contract on May 13, 2021 ó extending the end-term of agreement from June 30, 2021, to June 30, 2026
  • Resolution for call for nominations for school director candidates
  • Resolution providing official notice of intent for School District 49 to participate in the election on Nov. 2 and to appoint Donna Garza as the designated election official
Discussion itemsIris Eisele, recent graduate from Sand Creek High School, presented her Inclusion Project, a social platform she designed for the general and special education populations to introduce themselves to each other. Eisele said, ìProject Inclusions goal, as the name suggests, is to create a more inclusive and connected environment in school communities.îSamantha Hollister, parent co-chair for D 49 Special Education Advisory Committee, outlined the purpose of SEAC and reported an overview of the recommended areas of improvement identified by the committee, including specific concerns and policies to be considered by the BOE.Hilts said the above report is in response to general concerns raised by the SEAC process as well as directives arising from a BOE grievance hearing in November 2020. He said the plan includes improvements to staffing levels, compensation strategies, workplace culture, training systems, compensation and working conditions for school counselors, special education teachers and paraprofessionals.The board then discussed the proposed resolution against CRT. In a 3-2 vote, the board advanced the†resolution,†which will be added to the agenda for a final vote at the Aug. 12 meeting.†Ridgway set up a public phone interview with Amy†Attwood from†Attwood†Public Affairs, who is a contract lobbyist for District 49. She provided a summary regarding issues discussed at the recently completed legislative session and previewed upcoming issues pertinent to D 49.John Graham, board president and Donna Garza, executive assistant to the BOE, asked board members and chief officers to prepare and share suggestions for new or revised resolutions for submission to the Colorado Association of School Boards at the Aug. 12 regular meeting.Paul Andersen, director of human resources said the administration is recommending a new board policy ó Equal Pay for Equal Work ó which amends existing law and provides new wage discrimination protections to prevent pay disparities.†The intent of Equal Pay for Equal Work is to close the pay gap in Colorado and ensure that employees with similar job duties are paid the same wage†rate regardless of sex. He recommended moving the policies forward for action at the Aug. 12 board meeting.††Ridgway discussed the appropriate time to complete the next iteration of director district boundary reviews relative to a board election; the board decided to discuss it at the annual planning summit, scheduled for February 2022.Garza said board policies and regulations are routinely reviewed to ensure they are current and reflect applicable laws as well as meet the needs of the district. She asked that after review, at least one policy be moved forward for adoption at the next board meeting:Other businessRick Van Wieren moved to enter into executive session to receive legal advice and to discuss individual students where public disclosure would adversely affect the person or persons involved. The motion passed, ending the public portion of the meeting for the evening.The next regular meeting of the BOE is Aug. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Creekside Success Center, 3850 Pony Tracks Dr., in Colorado Springs.

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