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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49 April board meeting

A large crowd of more than 150 people attended the April 6 D 49 board meeting at Skyview Middle School.Superintendent Dr. Steven Hull began the meeting by requesting two additional board meetings in April. The first, scheduled for April 11, will be a work session and a follow-up meeting will be held April 18. Hull presented information on the current operating budget and the possible need to cut $1.5 million for the 2006-2007 school year. He said the current staffing was based on a projection of 11,000 students, and the actual enrollment was 10,200 students.Two charter schools are scheduled to open in August, with a total enrollment of 500 students. The charter schools will report actual enrollment to the district by June 1. State funding received by D 49 for each student who attends the charter school must be given to the charter school.Hull also talked about the costs to open an elementary school. He said it costs roughly $800,000, and that doesn’t include teachers’ salaries and benefits. Hull said they must know the correct staffing ratios at each school before hiring additional teachers for the next school year.Many people spoke during the open forum.Robin Keller, a parent and sponsor of exchange students, told the board she felt the district was “top heavy in administration,” and the district needs more teachers not administrators. Keller said she tried to enroll an exchange student at Falcon High School and was told only two exchange students per school are allowed due to space concerns. Hull said the policy is changing to welcome more exchange students. Keller also thanked board president Dave Martin for attending the wrestling tournament and supporting the students.Jamie Herman, a D 49 parent, echoed Keller and told the board that she disagreed with the decision to hire more administrators and fewer teachers. She also asked that the transportation of students be reviewed.Ron Goad, a Falcon Middle School teacher, said he knows “for a fact” that teachers were let go for the next school year. He told the board that despite student-teacher ratios of 21 to l, FMS has an average class size of 20 to 30 students. Hull responded by stating that the ratio does not take into account teacher planning time.Kelly Salling-Davies also expressed concern over staffing ratios. She also mentioned her concern regarding board member Anna Bartha’s request at the December board meeting to change the name “winter break” to “Christmas break.” “It would be sending the wrong message regarding our school district,” Salling-Davies said.Ellen Duckers told the board she appreciated their hard work and suggested that if some teachers have been told they will not be returning next year, then perhaps it was performance related.Several other parents and teachers took their turns at the podium to denounce the layoffs of teachers and cutbacks in programs for next year, prompting Hull to emphatically state that no teachers have been laid off and no program cuts have been made. He asked those who have been told otherwise to speak to Sandy Collins or Dr. Lynne Lane during spring break.Board action items:The BOE approved by a 5-0 vote the boundary changes recommended by the District Long Range Facilities Planning Council. The changes affect the new Elementary #9, Ridgeview Elementary, Stetson Elementary, Woodman Hills Elementary and Meridian Ranch Elementary schools.The board also unanimously approved four new school principals: John Weishaar will be the principal of Falcon High School for the 2006-2007 school year; Mike Collins will move from Woodman Hills Elementary School to Sand Creek High School; Diane Wormer was hired as the principal for Horizon Middle School and Don Begier will be the principal of Falcon Middle School.In a surprise move, BOE member Dave Stark requested that the board vote on changing the name Winter Break to Christmas Break. It was approved by a 3-2 vote, with Dave Martin and Laine Gibson voting no.Other action items approved were the construction contracts for the addition to Skyview Middle School and the conversion of Falcon High School to Falcon Middle School.The next board of education meeting will be held at the D 49 central administration office board room May 4 at 6:30 p.m.

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