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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 Feb. 10. All board members were present.Amy Matisek, internal communications manager, started the Fantastic 49 celebration honoring staff and students with a helpful heart. The following were recognized: ï Margaret Stanley, gifted education specialist for supporting students across the district, working extra hours with gifted and talented students and stepping up to serve as facilitator at Meridian Ranch Elementary. ï Students Caleb Houser, Izabelle Lovos and Blake Livermore for their help in launching the coffee cart program at Vista Ridge High School. Their dedication to customer service ensured the successful continuation of the program. ï Jake Stewart, assistant building manager at Falcon High School, for taking on extra duties with a small custodial staff. Stewart ensures a clean environment for staff and students. ï Gretchen Vazquez and Amber Brown, district behavior analysts, for fostering an uplifting environment and supplying training and tools for staff to aid in dealing with behavioral challenges. ï Jacki Kwon, culturally and linguistically diverse education teacher and Ytzel Lugo, CLDE paraeducator, for creating relationships with students and families to ensure students feel welcome and see their school as a safe place.Chief executive officers updatePeter Hilts, chief education officer, reported the following: ï A new principal for Vista Ridge High School has been hired and will start in June. Becki Sims has been the interim principal. ï Sand Creek High Schoolís Mock Trial team recently won a regional competition and will compete in the state competition in early March. ï Hilts said that after the last professional development day that allowed teams and individuals to choose the type of development they need, the district received a strong positive response from 400 staff members; 90% of them said they want to continue these training opportunities. ï Falcon Zone hosted 350 educators from across North America for the Modern Teacherís National Conference on Digital Convergence Feb. 6 to Feb. 7. Modern Teacher, a national organization, is a personalized learning framework that connects systems related to leadership, instructional models, modern curriculum, digital ecosystems, professional learning and community to accomplish individualized learning goals. Hilts said, ìWhen our little kindergarten and elementary students and middle and high schools were presenting in the Falcon gym to 350 educators from around the country, you had to see our culture and strategy brought to life.î ï The following D 49 staff were recognized for Personalized Learning Classroom: Melissa Armstrong, Meridian Ranch Elementary School; Laura Anderson, MRES; and Brooke Neilson, Falcon High School. Sheehan Freeman-Todd, principal of MRES, was awarded Change Management Principal of the Year. The Falcon Zone was also the first district in the United States to reach the highest level of implementation of the Modern Teacher Framework. ï Hilts met with the El Paso County clerk and recorder about the process of establishing and rebalancing school board director districts. It is the duty of the school board to perform district rebalancing no later than March 1 this year and every 10 years thereafter. ìThis is a process-based statute. Itís math.îStudent Board of Representatives updateAmelia Garcia, senior at Falcon High School said she attended the NCDC convention and offered congratulations to all the teachers who were recognized.Israel Oketunmbi, senior at Sand Creek High School, congratulated Vista Ridge cheer team for their recent state championship win. He said SCHS has started many new clubs for students to have opportunities for involvement in areas of their interest. He gave kudos to the staff at SCHS and said, ìEvery day is exciting and I look forward to it.îBoard updateJohn Graham, president, attended NCDC and said he learned a lot about D 49 teachers and administrators. He noted that there were 66 participating districts. He said he has been meeting with constituents, administrators, teachers and other educational forums. ìWe are doing it right here,î he said. Graham said he provided a written board report accessible to the public in BoardDocs on the D 49 Board of Education web page.Rick Van Wieren, vice president, attended NCDC. He said he found that the Modern Teacher framework includes technical tools for teachers and tools for kids; however, ìI saw a lot of old school learning with new school accountability, he said.î Van Wieren said he spoke to a teacher who admitted she had lost her joy in teaching but this year her kids have brought back her joy.Ivy Liu, director, said the district is ìgraduating kids who canít read or write.î She acknowledges it is not black and white and not a simple analysis. She wants to know about the efficacy of social-emotional learning.Lori Thompson, secretary, attended a presentation on curricula focused on the teachings of Martin Luther King Junior. She said she is reaching out to learn about different types of curricula. Thompson gave kudos to the staff who received awards at the NCDC conference.Jamilynn DíAvola, treasurer, attended the NCDC. She said she enjoyed talking to students and finding out about what theyíre learning. She also spoke with principals and teachers. She said, ìIt was refreshing to see a different perspective on different learning styles and how they have embraced something thatís new and different from traditional.î DíAvola said she still has questions about the research behind Modern Teacher and the rationale for why it has been implemented.Action itemsThe BOE unanimously approved the following: ï D 49 school family calendars for school years 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 ï Date change for Employee of the Year recognition, from May 24 to May 17Discussion itemsDavid Watson, director of safety and security, provided data from Bark, the internet monitoring system; Securly, email monitoring; and Safe2Tell activity for the present school year. The highest rates of concerns from alerts are depression and self-harm/suicidal content. The top categories of Safe2Tell reports are mental health related topics, bullying and alcohol and drugs. D 49 will continue an armed presence in secondary schools and roving patrols at elementary campuses.Bruce Brown, facility project manager, provided an update on operations performance. He said Bennett Ranch Elementary School is on schedule for substantial completion by May 18. Brown said the project is experiencing no major challenges and is coming in within budget. The transportation center has received building permits and notice to proceed from the county. The metal building has been delivered. Challenges with this project, as well as others in the district, have been weather and long lead times for equipment, such as a generator and air handler. Paul Andersen, interim executive director of People & Culture, described a two-part evaluation process to include timeline for the chief executive officerís annual evaluation.After the board gave consent, DíAvola and Thomas will work together on reviewing the curriculum review policy.The next regular meeting of the BOE is March 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs.

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