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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 July 14.Board updateJohn Graham, president, said that Peter Hilts will take on the role of chief executive officer for the district because of the resignations of Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, and Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer. Graham talked about their accomplishments and expertise as a team. ìWe especially honor Brett Ridgway and Pedro Almeida for the foundations they laid through their leadership and service to District 49,î Graham said. ìFor the 2022 and 2023 school year, we will build on those foundations by contracting with Peter Hilts to serve as chief executive officer to organize and lead the administrative team. As a unified five-member board, we are committed to working with each other and our administrative leaders in a spirit of cooperation, collaboration and communication that will advance District 49 as the best choice to learn, work and lead. And we say advance because we are continuing to move forward.îGraham said the board has agreed to focus on students and classrooms. ìWe want stability as we start the new year,î he said. He said a team of industry leaders will evaluate the current chief officer model versus the superintendent model. The plan is to discuss their recommendations in January.Rick Van Wieren, vice president, said that the team of chief officers is ìan amazing team Ö I for one feel a great loss.î Van Wieren said the board met the prior day and discussed the need to speak as one voice. He said cooperation, collaboration and communication were important.Ivy Liu expressed well wishes to Ridgway and Almeida. She congratulated Sand Creek High Schoolís math teacher Melissa Mayfield for achieving a 74% pass rate in her math class, which was the top in the school. Liu said, ìI know a loving teaching staff have been working endlessly at all grade levels at every school in the district and I salute you, every one of you ó teachers, staff, principals.î Lui said the board will work on student achievement, direct support to classrooms and personnel retention.Lori Thompson, secretary, thanked Ridgway for his service to the district and noted his work on financial transparency that is modeled around the state of Colorado. She commended Almeidaís treatment of subordinates. ìI donít want you guys to leave, and I really wish you the best where you are going.î Thompson reiterated other board member commitments to a renewed board focus of ìdoing best for our students.îJamilynn DíAvola thanked everyone who attended the first town hall meeting. She said she appreciated hearing concerns from all perspectives, including teachers. DíAvola thanked Ridgway and Almeida for their commitment, service and accomplishments. She noted Ridgwayís work on the passing of Senate Bill 22-202 and said, ìYou will go down in history for being a person that has changed the way that we are receiving funds for not just this school district but for multiple school districts around the state.î She said each board member has been assigned specific tasks in looking at policies, objectives and metrics. ìI am really excited for the future of our district, the future of our school board and the future we have with Mr. Peter Hilts being our chief executive officer for this following year,î DíAvola said. ìWeíre looking forward to working with him.îChief officersí updatePeter Hilts, chief executive officer, congratulated Adrian Ionita, school bus technician, for being awarded first place out of 25 competitors as a bus mechanic at the State Road-e-o Contest. Hilts complimented Ridgway and Almeida on their leadership and service to the district. He said it will be important to take the time needed to find the right leadership. ìWe need to start the year with clarity, not in the middle of multiple searches and uncertainties. I appreciate that the board made what I know was a difficult but purposeful decision to put pragmatic needs above politics or even personal preferences. Thank you for doing that. I intend to honor and respect that commitment. I know that it was done so that we can give our district a solid, firm foundation to launch not just successful students but the people that teach and serve them as well.îBrett Ridgway, chief business officer, thanked everyone for their kind words. He gave kudos to his teams and said, ìThey are highly skilled teams and with good support they will continue to perform the roles that they are tasked with. This experience especially these last five years with the team of Peter and Pedro has been a great rewarding time of my career that I will always cherish and be fond of the things that we were able to not only accomplish but that we were able to act as a unit and act as a team. Because that is a greater joy of success. I appreciate your statement yesterday in supporting Peter, and I would encourage everyone to be supportive of Peter as he leads this district going forward Ö . Thank you for this time here.î Ridgway received a standing ovation from the board.Action itemsThe BOE unanimously approved the following:

  • Remote learning assurances updated with removal of pandemic and COVID references
  • Student rights and responsibilities handbook
  • Permanent position of co-director of facilities
  • Job description for logistical support technician
Discussion itemsAndy Franko, iConnect Zone Leader, and Rick Dalman, principal of Banning Lewis Ranch Academy, requested an armed security policy waiver. The school would like to hire a third-party vendor for armed security. The board asked that the policy language lists district-approved options for security that would include hiring a third-party vendor. The updated policy will be presented to the board for approval in August.Louis Fletcher, director of culture and services, provided a job description for a community engagement manager. The position combines the earlier proposed job descriptions of coordinator of cultural initiatives and military community engagement manager. The board moved the job description for a vote at the August BOE meeting after job analysis and salary have been determined.Graham reviewed the process of chief officer reviews and said there would be one chief officer review in October of this year and that the process may change with new metrics for the next review cycle.Other businessThe BOE tasked Hilts to provide the board with options for increasing the districtís ability to fill vacancies with paraprofessionals and other classroom-based support.The next regular meeting of the BOE is Aug. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs.***See article on Pikes Peak Early College under Feature Stories

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