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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 March 10.Amy Matisek, internal communications manager, recognized the following Fantastic 49 recipients:

  • Shauna Anderson, RISE program/special education teacher, Skyview Middle School, for teaching business skills to students by helping them create a student-run coffee shop called RISE Above Grounds.
  • Evans Elementary School kindergarten team ó Christine Dodson, Jenna Whitson, Katya Schmidt and Melissa Anderson ó for helping their students move four proficiency levels from the start of the school year when 41% of the kindergarten students were below benchmark to December when 66% were above benchmark.
  • Maria Austin, district affective needs instructional coach, Stetson Elementary School, for implementing improved structure and routines, impacting students and their academic needs.
  • Special Education team ó Nicole Vallance, SPED teacher, and paraprofessionals Alana Roytan, Madison Young, Cristina Locke, Nakeesha Cluse and Angela Sharp, Stetson Elementary School, for working collaboratively and building relationships with students and families.
  • Tamara Myers, first-grade teacher, Remington Elementary, and Coach Joe Hites and the boys basketball team at Vista Ridge High School for working together to recognize a first-grade learner by asking him to be an honorary captain at a varsity game.
Open forumThe majority of the speakers during open forum spoke in favor of a new transportation facility, pointing out the inadequacy of the current facility and the inability to grow with the district.Chief officersí updatePeter Hilts, chief education officer, thanked the board members for attending the Leaders in Literary Summit. Hilts also said the Voice of the Workforce program rolled out with a survey and focus groups. He pointed out the recent news about fentanyl use and its impact on students and the community. He encouraged older students and all adults to talk to students about experimentation. ìDonít miss the moment to share a conversation,î Hilts said. He said Safe2Tell is a vehicle for reporting concerns anonymously.Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, said the new accounting system conversion has started and work will continue during spring break week. The first payroll from the new system will be in April. The accounting team is also working with a new asset inventory tracking system.Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, gave a nod to the facilities and transportation teams for their hard work during the winter. Almeida said that waivers granted during the COVID pandemic allowing school nutrition programs to adjust due to shortages have ended. A new nutrition services funding bill has passed the House and is now in the Senate for a vote. Almeida said that development in the area is slowing down progress on the new middle school (MS23226) and could impact the planned fall 2023 completion.Student Board of Representativesí updateAbigail Troup, Pikes Peak Early College, said their school had a recent GPA awards ceremony. She said at their student board representative meeting, students discussed the need for additional advising support. Troup said that many students would like more assistance with college preparation and workforce preparedness, such as how to write a resume and participate in an interview.Board updateJohn Graham, president, recognized the hard work of the entire district. Graham congratulated the Empower Falcon Zone for recent teacher awards, Evans Elementary for conducting a literacy night with more than 200 families attending and Jackie Ornelas, Horizon Middle School, who was awarded Colorado Athletics Directors Associationís Middle School Athletic Director of the Year. Graham attended professional development for kindergarten through grade two and grades three to five, which was funded by a grant from the Department of Defense Education Agency for teaching math using science and data. Graham pointed out that 91% of the D 49 workforce responded to a recent survey. Some schools have requested town hall meetings with D 49 board members and administrators. Board members agreed to participate collaboratively with school administrators.Rick Van Wieren, vice president, attended the Leaders in Literacy Summit. He also visited Ridgeview and Inspiration View Elementary School. Van Wieren recognized the transportation staff for the work they perform under difficult conditions with no running water in their building and a porta potty for restroom facilities.Jamilynn DíAvola, director, visited Vista Ridge High School, Skyview Middle School and Remington Elementary. She met with Sue Holmes, superintendent of the Falcon Zone, and the elementary school principals who reported on reading data that indicated growth. DíAvola attended Leaders in Literacy Summit. She said, ìIt is my hope and desire that they (zone leaders) take these trainings back to their schools to better equip their staff to tackle the challenges of teaching with the understanding of the science of reading.îLucy Liu, treasurer, attended the Leaders in Literacy Summit and said she learned the importance of vocabulary and how reading to children increases their reading skills. She encouraged community leaders to volunteer in the classrooms. Liu said that the Voice of the Workforce rollout has been useful to the board in understanding teacher concerns. Liu said, ìIím looking forward to ushering in positive changes for our district.î She thanked teachers and said, ìWe know how hard youíre working.îLori Thompson, secretary, gave kudos to the transportation team for their work and for speaking during the public forum. She also recognized Evans Elementary for their CSAP test scores. She said she was inspired by the Rachelís Challenge presentation at the Falcon Middle School. Thompson said there have been about 10,000 comments on the VOW rollout. She said, ìThe most important thing to know is that their voices are heard.î She noted that board priorities, VOW (Voice of the Workforce) and student achievement are tied together with staff satisfaction.Action itemsThe BOE unanimously approved the following:
  • New transportation center
  • Name of new middle school: Elevation Middle School
  • Proposed policy revisions related to pay schedules
  • Strategic objectives
  • Student Health Services and Records policy update
  • Supplement pay and pay program enhancements
Discussion itemsStacey Franklin, coordinator of literacy performance, and Peter Hilts, chief education officer, gave a report on primary literacy performance as of the mid-school year. Franklin reported that D 49 is outperforming the state in terms of reducing the number of students at risk and increasing the number of students reading at and above state benchmarks, indicating improvement over the deficits experienced during the COVID pandemic.Rhonda May, director of special education, presented the status of the Improving Special Education Initiative. May said, ìWe are moving toward comprehensive inclusion, and so that means improving studentsí access to the programming that they need in their neighborhood school, improving their access to their neighborhood peers, and improving their access to more settings and more people within their schools.î The current model is highly specialized and siloed into distinctly separate areas of academic skills, behavioral support, cognitive, social/communication and other support needs such as medical and physical components. The new model involves programming at all locations rather than programs at different locations requiring transporting students. The new model will require professional development as well as job-embedded training with coaching and real-time support for special education staff.Angela Rose, coordinator of title programs, presented a description and status of Titles I, II, III and IV federally funded programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Rose said the title funds are meant to supplement state and local funds, and are used to enhance, increase and extend programs and services to improve academic achievement. The 2001-2002 allocation for all four combined was $2,697,917.The next regular meeting of the BOE is April 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs.

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