El Paso County Colorado District 49

BOE June meeting wrap-up 

By Deb Risden

The El Paso County School District 49 Board of Education held its monthly meeting June 8. All board members were in attendance. Amy Matisek, internal communications manager, started the Fantastic 49 celebration. Matisek said a total of 115 individuals were honored during the 2022-2023 school year. The following were recognized for going above and beyond expectations: 

  • Angelina Irwin, first-grade teacher at Woodmen Hills Elementary, for meeting individual needs of students and encouraging them to advocate for their own learning needs. 
  • Dawnise Sandwick, special education instructional coach at Falcon High School, for building bridges between special and general education, and ensuring teachers have the tools they need.
  • The Stetson Elementary custodial team — Ken Evans, Bobby Allen and Katarzyna Czepiel — for supporting one another, demonstrating kindness to everyone and contributing to the school and students by participating in extracurricular activities such as coaching the girls’ basketball team.
  • Andrew King, Travis Yager and Staci Toma, high school band and percussion leaders, for developing a district-wide indoor percussion marching band program for 40 students.
  • Ann Moomey, volunteer, for serving at Remington Elementary School for about 25 years supporting teachers and students.

Superintendent’s update

Peter Hilts, superintendent, said that Sand Creek, Falcon and Vista Ridge high schools have established a senior walk. The graduating seniors wear caps and gowns and walk through the halls of the elementary schools. The young students cheer the seniors and are inspired by them. A new 49 Voices podcast has been released that highlights two members of the Student Board of Representatives who share their experiences in D 49 and their plans for the future. Hilts recognized the 2023 D 49 graduates. “Nobody breezes through 13 years of education. A lot of our schools had students who overcame major obstacles.” Hilts said that two zone superintendents have been hired — Dustin Horras, Sand Creek Zone, and Dr. Verenice Guiterrez, iConnect Zone. BOE members participated in the selection of candidates. Hilts said he prepared and narrated a presentation describing the Colorado Department of Education website dashboard after BOE director Ivy Lui posted on social media that 73% of D 49 graduates are failures. Hilts said, “Misusing dashboards can be dangerous … . These comments are based on wildly incompetent interpretation for workforce readiness on the CDE dashboard.” His presentation can be found on 

Student Board of Representatives’ update

Amelia Garcia, Falcon High School 2003 graduate, expressed appreciation for D 49 teachers and staff. “I graduated with flying colors and would like to thank counselors, teachers, friends, staff and security that helped and guided me to graduation.” She said she has been in concurrent enrollment since her sophomore year and graduated with 31 college credits. 

Board update

John Graham, president, attended nine D 49 graduations. He expressed pride in the students, graduates, teachers, staff and administrators.

Rick Van Wieren, vice president, encouraged the community to access the 49 Answers webpage for accurate information. “That is the best place to address facts and inaccuracies that any of us make as board members. If we’re going to keep the public well informed, that should be considered a reliable source of information.”

Lori Thompson, secretary, said she visited Ridgeview Elementary, Remington Elementary and Horizon Middle School prior to high school graduations.

Jamilynn D’Avola, treasurer, attended Vista Ridge High School’s graduation and Liberty Tree Academy’s first graduation. LTA graduated 28 students.

Action items

The BOE unanimously approved the following:

  • Policy and procedure review
  • Preschool tuition increase

Discussion items

Hilts requested approval of a new job description for a compliance and service specialist who will work with the communications department to establish and coordinate processes for complying with mandated requests for information. Hilts said requests vary and can be mandated under the Colorado Open Records Act, Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act, Colorado Open Meetings Law and Freedom of Information Act. Requests can also come from Safe2Tell, grievance processes, direct requests from the district’s C.A.R.E. line (Concerns, requests for Assistance, Respect for excellence, and everything Else) or other stakeholder inquiries. Dave Nancarrow, communications director, said the district has seen a dramatic increase in requests over the past five years, from about 19 per year to 120. “With very limited exceptions, we are meeting the required time of the three-to-seven-day window to respond, but it does take the work of myself and many other significant players in the district.” The BOE consented 4-1 to move the job description forward for a vote at the August meeting.

Mary Perez, director of applied and advanced learning and the AAL team provided a performance update. Shonda Green, coordinator of concurrent enrollment, said the concurrent enrollment program has grown. Current graduating seniors earned 17 associate’s degrees, 15 college certificates and a total of 7,428 college credits. She said when looking at all free college credits earned between ninth and 12th grade, district families have saved $1.3 million in college tuition and fees. Mary Krisko, career and technical education coordinator, said the district works closely with local businesses and industry to help build a workforce for high demand fields. More than 80 students have earned certifications in computer science, health care, business, skilled trades, hospitality and culinary. Kelsey Grimaldo, choice and success program manager, said through the Individual Career and Academic Plan process, students have an opportunity to participate in work-based experiences. This school year, the program included 71 guest speakers, 48 site visits, 12 job shadows and 52 internships in areas such as automotive, engineering, manufacturing and heavy equipment.

Ron Sprinz, director of finance, presented the 2023-2024 proposed budget for charter schools. He said the charter school budgets have been approved by their individual boards and are in line with previous budgets. Sprinz presented the proposed budget for D 49. The budget has been updated since the last review due to the late receipt of per-pupil funding numbers from the state. The proposed budget of $148.7 million was broken down into zones, schools, internal departments, facilities and maintenance and incoming funds. The BOE will vote on the budget at the June 28 special meeting.

Nancarrow provided a communications department performance report. He said the department was a recipient of 13 individual points of recognition or awards at the Colorado School Public Relations Association conference.

Hilts presented an organization chart of the district under the superintendent model. Nine positions will report to Hilts, including four zone superintendents. He has set a goal for the district to earn the Colorado Department of Education’s Accredited With Distinction designation by 2030 and the Baldridge recognition as a Role Model Organization by 2029. Hilts said the focus is on academic achievement and will require commitment on the part of the entire district. He will collaborate with the Falcon Education Foundation to fund at least one $10,000 award to the school earning the most school performance framework points in the previous five years. He intends to solicit support and donations from administrators, BOE members and vendors. The goal is for scholarships to be awarded equally to staff and students.

Graham presented an action plan on restoring trust in the BOE based on the book “Trusted Leader: 8 Pillars That Drive Results” by D. Horsager (2021). Graham asked that each board member read the book and be prepared to vote on adopting an action plan at the August board meeting. The plan would include establishing key performance indicators for the board. 

Graham presented a resolution supporting capitalism in response to the April 2023 Colorado Education Association’s resolution condemning capitalism that stated, “Capitalism inherently exploits children, public schools, land, labor and resources.” “We believe this statement to be in error and misguided at best,” Graham said. The D 49 resolution rejects CEA’s statement and was moved forward to the August meeting for a formal vote. 

The next regular meeting of the BOE is Aug. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs

StratusIQ Fiber Internet Falcon Advertisement

Current Weather

Weather Cams by StratusIQ

Search Advertisers