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El Paso County Colorado District 49

BOE meeting wrap-up

The El Paso County School District 49 Board of Education held its monthly meeting Oct. 14; they began with recognizing the Fantastic 49 recipients:The 35 READ camp leaders and staff who participated during summer break 2021Bruce Brown, facility project managerDavid Glenn, Robert Konz and David Pratt, safety and security specialistsOpen forumThe majority of comments during the open forum referred to the discussion the board had at the work session Sept. 22, regarding the public participation policy at board meetings.Jim Robertson, parent of former D 49 students, said, ìDuring this last working group meeting, we witnessed a purposeful attempt to suppress free expression of speech of the very stakeholders you claim to represent. The board should be encouraging the community, not suppressing us, work with us, not against us, you should want spirited discussion and debate; clapping and commenting are often the most commonly accepted form of support; it is how you gage the publicís interest.îìI understand the board wants to change the open forum format in a way that is unacceptable,î said Tony Grado, parent of D 49 students. ìMy neighbors and I find it alarming that the board would limit the forum to equal parts, for and against a subject Ö . How can you fairly assess the views of your constituents in this manner?îChief officersí updatePeter Hilts, chief education officer, said, ìWe have had multiple serious issues lately for which we had media attention. We try to balance confidentiality with transparency, and sometimes weíre quoted saying things we did not say.î He said they donít always correct these mistakes because to do so could break confidentiality. ìIn a setting where weíve deserved a high level of scrutiny for a variety of reasons, I believe we have been honorable in the face of that scrutiny,î Hilts said.Brett Ridgeway, chief business officer, said he and Pedro Almeida attended the Colorado Association of School Business Officials and were speakers at a breakout session that focused on cultural values. He said, ìWe had a lot of people attend because other school districts are always interested in what D 49 is doing because we are different and not beholden to the system.îPedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said they are still 27 bus drivers short; 19 positions short in nutrition services. ìOur safety and security team are representative of a lot of things that we do across the district that help lead in the region,î Almeida said. For example, the violence and suicide risk assessments are getting inquiries from other districts in the region. ìItís just one example of the quality teams we have in our district,î he said.Board updateKevin Butcher, vice president, said this is his last board meeting, and he has been honored to serve the community. ìOur parents and district have more choices for educational opportunities for their children than any other district in this state, and I am proud of having been involved in that,î he said.Dave Cruson, treasurer, congratulated Horizon Middle School for receiving the Renaissance School of Distinction Award. They are one of only 11 schools in the nation to receive this recognition.Lucy Lui, director, said she attended the three day Restorative Practices training, which is in alignment with D 49ís cultural compass program.John Graham, president, discussed inaccurate statements that have been brought to his attention regarding D 49ís state test scores and the assessment of the BOE aspolitical, disruptive or dysfunctional. ìThe board is operating just the way it is supposed to be,î he said. ìEach board member votes their conscience, not necessarily as a whole or unanimously; that doesnít mean we arenít working together.îAction itemsThe BOE unanimously approved the following:

  • The Accreditation of Schools with emphasis on Colorado’s Unified Improvement Plan for Alternative Educational Campus Organizations, for Goal Academy, Odyssey Elementary and Patriot High School
  • The resolution to authorize remote learning during the 2021-2022 school year as recommended by the administration; this allows D 49 to receive appropriate funding
  • The revisions to the policy for bidding procedures and a revised regulation for purchasing procedures as recommended by the administration. This increases the amount to $65,000 before having to submit a request for a purchase proposal and a $10,000 maximum before requiring three bids.
  • The 2020-21 amended student fees as recommended by administration per their review of expense plans related to each program
  • The new job description for a special education paraeducator for visually impaired students as recommended by the administration due to not being able to fill the position of teacher of the visually impaired
  • The calendar increase from 203 days to a full year for the revised job description of the individualized education compliance assistant
  • Revisions to the public participation policy to add a second forum
Discussion itemsCJ Jilek and Daniel Payne, co-directors of the Facilities Department, gave their bi-annual update.Jim Tanner, manager of Technology Resource Infrastructure, gave an update on information technology from the past year and future initiatives.Ken Witt, executive director of Pikes Peak Board of Cooperative Educational Services, updated the board on their objectives and initiatives. BOCES is a partner of D 49; one of their grants funds D 49 Schoology Seats (learning management systems).Sean Dorsey, zone leader, provided an update regarding the performance and activities at the Sand Creek Zone.Matt Barrett, director of data and performance, discussed the new job description for a performance analyst to replace the senior data analyst position.Ron Sprinz, director of finance, gave the†monthly financial report, ending June 30.Ridgeway gave an elementary and secondary school emergency relief fund update related to the COVID pandemic.The next regular meeting of the BOE is Nov. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs.

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