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El Paso County Colorado District 49

BOE meeting wrap-up

The El Paso County Colorado School District 49 Board of Education held its monthly meeting June 9.Amy Bremser, media broadcast specialist, recognized the following Fantastic 49 recipients:

  • Jay Drake and Rolf Grell, security officers at Skyview Middle School, for their dedication to the safety of staff and students
  • Andrew Crigger, Vista Ridge High School, for musical excellence that led to acceptance to the 2022 Colorado All State Symphonic Band
  • Bridgitte Martin, special education coordinator for the Falcon Zone, for being a key resource for colleagues at Bennett Ranch Elementary
  • Christy Rotunno, special education resource teacher at Springs Studio for Academic Excellence, for her impact on a student who faces challenges in certain social situations and for encouraging student voice
  • Kelley Graham, special education generalist teacher at Meridian Ranch Elementary, for her collaboration with teachers, parents and paraeducators to create a culture of inclusion for students with special needs
  • David Koche, retiring executive principal, iConnect Zone, for his positive impact on students, families and colleagues over 29 years; Koche was instrumental in the development of Springs Studio for Academic Excellence and Pikes Peak Early College.
Chief officersí updatePedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said the transportation center construction and multiple maintenance projects across the district will take place over the summer. Almeida said that since the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, D 49 is ìrenewing our focus on what we are doing in our district for security. We have increased our posture consistently over the past several years. We continue to look at ways to increase our posture.îPeter Hilts, chief education officer, attended graduations. He said participation in academic assessments has increased but not to the pre-COVID level. Hilts said individual students have shown increased achievement and growth and more data will be available when the CMAS (criterion-referenced assessments scores) are received in September. He recognized the teachers and parents who helped prepare students. Hilts thanked teachers for participating in training after the end of the school year.Board updateJohn Graham, president, said that one of the boardís executive meetings was about safety and security, which are in the forefront of administration. He said the board and chiefs are looking into all options and reviewing current policies.Rick Van Wieren, vice president, attended several graduations and said he was proud of students for ìshowing grit through COVID.î He recognized the D 49 security staff for their work in keeping the district safe.Ivy Liu encouraged voting in the upcoming June primary. Lui said she wants to see the district eliminate CRT and gender sex education. ìWe are getting rid of them. It is what we promised,î she said. Liu said the district has had 10 years of SEL and a historically high rate of mental health and behavioral problems. She said the root cause of unhappiness and depression is illiteracy.Lori Thompson, secretary, attended graduations and a presentation by Rezilient Kidz, a 501(c)3 organization with a mission to bring together community leaders and families together to create a framework for success for children outside of the school environment. Thompson said the board has received communications from the community about school safety since the school shooting in Texas. She said, ìWe as a board have received your emails, text messages and phone calls. We hear you. We share your concerns.îJamilynn DíAvola attended graduations and recognized students who completed part of their educational years through COVID and quarantine. DíAvola said that grievances and attacks against her have been from stakeholders and constituents and not from other BOE members.Action itemsThe BOE unanimously approved the SWAP coordinator job description.The BOE did not approve the observance of the Juneteenth holiday.Discussion itemsMary Perez, director of applied and advanced learning; Kelsey Grimaldo,†choice and success program manager; and Shonda Green, concurrent enrollment coordinator, presented the Applied and Advanced Learning Performance Report. Green said concurrent enrollment had been increasing until the past year but an increase is anticipated for the upcoming year. Green said the districtís three biggest partners are Pikes Peak State College (formerly Pikes Peak Community College), which now offers four-year degrees; ASCENT, which offers a free year of college after completion of 12th grade; and TREP, offering two years of college for students who select education pathways. Perez said the Career and Technical Education program offers multiple programs and industry certifications in areas such as construction, culinary sciences, automotive, animal sciences, nursing and others. For the current school year, there were 14 internal internships in nutrition, food services and elementary education and 19 external internships in business, culinary arts and cyber security. Perez said next yearís goal is to continue to improve student achievement and outcomes.Andy Franko, iConnect Zone leader; Sue Holmes, Falcon Zone leader; and Katherine Hochevar, business department, presented a local accountability update based on student success, school culture, safety/security, communication, operations, leadership and community engagement. Once the measures have been refined, they will be rolled out to school level leadership over the summer with an accountability dashboard rolled out in the fall.Amy Attwood, contract lobbyist for D 49, provided a legislative update. She said the passage of SB22-202, the state match for mill levy override revenue, was a culmination of several years of work by D 49. She congratulated Brett Ridgway for his work on this bill, including developing a formula for the state to use to take into account poorer districts across the state. Attwood said, ìCongratulations to Mr. Ridgway and SD 49 for persevering in the interest of funding equity across the state. You are known as a very sharp district.î Attwood said that one of the more notable legislative activities was the passage of HB22-1295, which established a new Department of Early Childhood that will oversee the universal preschool education program.Louis L. Fletcher, culture and services director, presented two new job descriptions for coordinator of culture initiatives and military community engagement manager. The coordinator of culture initiatives job position had been funded through a DODEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) grant for five years. The job position is responsible for mediating and resolving conflict, determining root causes and mitigating for the future. The board moved the military community engagement manager job description forward for a vote at the next meeting. The coordinator of culture initiatives position was not moved forward. The board would like additional information about the positionís efficacy and the possibility of paying for it through a new grant.Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, presented the D 49 proposed budget package to be voted on in a special June 22 meeting. The budget provided zone level and individual school views. Ridgway also provided charter schools proposed budgets.Hilts presented a draft of the Parent Rights and Responsibilities Policy, which is designed to provide easy access to information and policies already in place for parents. The board would like to include a parent survey in August.Graham provided an operations, business, education performance metrics and policy update that he and DíAvola are working on with Tony Fontana, consultant, to develop metrics to evaluate chief officers. DíAvola proposed working with a third party to set up training for board members.The next regular meeting of the BOE is July 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs.

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