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El Paso County Colorado District 49

BOE meeting wrap-up

El Paso County Colorado School District 49 Board of Education held its monthly meeting Sept. 9, and began with recognizing the Fantastic 49 recipients.

  • Neveah Gutierrez, U.S. Air Force JROTC at Sand Creek High School, for being one of 600 students in the country to earn her pilotís license this past summer.
  • Jessica Beilharz, Evans Elementary School Art teacher, for her Crafts Super Summer School Program.
  • Samantha Pellow, kindergarten teacher; and Lindsay Alguire, physical education teacher, both from Odyssey Elementary School, for launching the Walking Wednesday fitness program.
  • Vladislav Izboinikov, coordinator of special student projects with the iConnect Zone, who coached two athletes at the Tokyo Olympics; both of them brought home gold medals.
Board updateAll members of the BOE were present at the regular meeting in September.John Graham, president, announced the board of education candidates for districts one, four and five; there are eight candidates running for three seats.Kevin Butcher, vice president, welcomed the student representatives back to the meetings.Dave Cruson, treasurer, announced two deaths within the district and gave his condolences.Ivy Liu, director, said on behalf of the board, they appreciate all communication from the community.Rick Van Wieren, secretary, expressed his appreciation of being able to attend the student representative reception.Graham reported on the Special Education Advisory Council meeting he attended in August. He welcomed and introduced the two student representatives present at the meeting, Delia Case and Ahmad Thomas, both seniors at Sand Creek High School. Graham went through the documents provided to the board members from the fall Colorado Association of School Board meeting, which included a copy of the book, ìRuby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story.î Chief officersí updatePedro Almeida, chief operations officer, showed a time lapse video of art students at Bennett Ranch Elementary School creating a painting on the blank construction wall, built to enable work on the addition while school is in session. Construction is scheduled to start February 2022.Brett Ridgeway, chief business officer, discussed Proposition 120, which reduces the residential and non-residential assessment rate. ìThis proposal would be destructive to the economy and to education in particular,î he said. ìProperty taxes are one of the best ways for school districts to get funding because it is a locally collected revenue versus state money.îPeter Hilts, chief education officer, gave an update on the districts COVID-19 and infectious disease policies. He said their priority is to balance mental health, physical health and academic achievement; they will continue to evaluate not only the medical side, but the political side as they go forward. They continue to work closely with the El Paso County Public Health Department.Open forumJim Robertson, parent, questioned the need for establishment of the new Cultural Leadership Advisory Council, formerly ELAC. ìIs there any hard evidence that we are having significant issues with equality in the district? Are all educational opportunities, athletics and extracurricular activities available to all children within the district,î he said. ìWe have equity of opportunity here in the district and this committee is starting to smell like Critical Race Theory, which the board already voted to ban.îKaren Leonhardt, D 49 teacher, agreed with having a CLAC council. ìIn our school, we talk a lot about teaching students to disagree appropriately and to calmly have discussions when they disagree,î she said. ìThere is real value in saying there are all different kinds of people in our community, and they all deserve to have a voice even if we disagree.îAction itemsThe BOE unanimously approved the following:
  • New job description for teacher on special assignment, Zone Community Liaison
  • Graduation dates and times
  • Sept. 17 as National Constitution Day
  • A supplemental budget increase for Fund 21 – Nutrition
  • The board directed the chief officers to present a special education strategic objective at the annual planning summit
  • Proposed revisions to five policies
  • The construction and boundary changes for increasing middle school capacity, as briefed at the June 10 BOE meeting
Discussion itemsJack Pietraallo, director of transportation, reported that during the 2020-21 school year, on one day, in the state of Colorado, there were 949 stop arm violations. This means the bus had stopped, had its STOP arm out, and a vehicle continued to drive by the bus. He said during the 2019-20 school year, D 49 had 90 such events and 24 events in 2020-21. This year, bus drivers are allowed to use any information, including video footage on the buses, to present to the police force. Pietraallo said the goal for the accident rate per 100,000 miles is always zero; D 49 has been less than 1% the last three years; last year they were at .02%.Dr. Nancy Lemmond, executive director of Individualized Education, said they have not been able to fill, either through D 49 hiring or external contracting, the position for a teacher for the visually impaired. She said they are writing up a new job description for a special education paraeducator instead, which will give the support needed without impacting the general budget.Lemmond also reported on the need to change the schedule for the†Individualized Education Compliance Assistant to a full year schedule (working overtime and summers) because of the current workload related to the expansion of special education and the Medicaid in Education programs.†Heather Mavel, coordinator of professional learning, presented an update on professional learning throughout the district, including the authorized charter schools.Andy Franko, iConnect Zone superintendent, provided the board with an update on student performance within iConnect Zone schools, including enrollment, updates related to the strategic priorities of the zone and strategic objectives of the board.The next regular meeting of the BOE is Oct. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs.

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