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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49 August board meeting update

The Falcon School District 49 Board of Education found a jam-packed board room when they took their seats at their regularly scheduled meeting in August.About half of the audience was there to support Dustin Horras, principal of Evans International Elementary. Horras, who had previously been removed from his position, awaited a decision by the board to either reinstate him or release him.Several teachers from Evans voiced their disapproval of Horrasís initial removal during the open forum.Because the specifics regarding Horrasís removal were considered personnel matters, the board would not discuss the item in regular session. They met for an executive session and voted to remove Horras as principal and directed district leaders to find him an alternative position within the district. Action itemsThe board discussed and passed all action items on the agenda:

  • Approval of a nutrition services equipment maintenance contract
  • Administrative salary alignment as part of the approved budget
  • Reauthorization of the Pikes Peak Board of Cooperative Education services contract
The board unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement between the district and the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder for the November 2013 election. The board seats up for election on the Nov. 5 ballot include president (currently held by Tammy Harold); vice-president (Chris Wright); and board director (Henry Allen).The board also discussed athletic and academic fees ñ the student fee structure ñ for Vista Ridge High School this year. The board unanimously passed the fee schedule.The board also unanimously approved refinancing of the districtís debt to save money. Marie LaVere-Wright, board treasurer, said the refinance would allow the district to pay a lower interest rate on the current debt amount but would not extend the term of repayment on the bonds in question.Monica Deines-Henderson, director of nutrition services, presented information regarding last yearís services and the outlook for this year. She said a price increase for student meals is not on the table.Deines-Henderson also presented information on a new federal regulation that will go into effect July 1, 2014, under the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act. The bill sets maximum and minimum requirements for calories and nutrients for all food and beverage items sold on school campuses, she said. The United States Department of Agriculture has created an interim final ruling that describes the maximums and minimums, Deines-Henderson said.Gene Hammon, director of transportation, updated the board on the districtís fee-for- service bus transportation program. Through the program, the transportation department received $40,000 over the amount that it had hoped to receive, he said. Along with other cost-saving measures, Hammond said the department has totaled about $150,000 in savings.Hammond also said the department needs to find the means to save money to replace aging buses in the district.In his facilities, operations and maintenance update, Jack Bay, chief operations officer, said that since 2009, the operations side of the district has seen about $3 million in savings annually that can be put back into education.Bay also provided potential cost saving measures on utilities to include the following: decreasing water consumption through xeriscaping and adding automatic sensor shut-offs; decreasing electricity usage by managing lighting controls and retrofitting lighting; and decreasing natural gas usage by adding thermostat controls.The board discussed revisions to policies regarding suspension/expulsion of students and student interviews, interrogations, searches and arrests. Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said, ìWe have typically wanted parents to know and be involved when a student may confess to something that could lead to suspension or expulsion.îHilts said the district administration recommends the same practice relating to incidents that involve an interview or interrogation by school administrators.Hilts, Bay and Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, provided the board with quantitative measures and benchmarks that could be used to evaluate the D 49 chiefsí performances. The item was up for discussion at the August work session.The next board meeting is Sept. 12 at the central administrative building.

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