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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49 BOE September meeting wrap up

The Falcon School District 49 Board of Education addressed a full agenda at the regular September board meeting. Prior to the meeting, the district presented Septemberís ìFantastic 49,î which recognizes exceptional teachers and students throughout the district. Marvra Winner, a teacher from Ridgeview Elementary School, talked about her induction into the Fuel Up to Play 60 Hall of Fame for her dedication to helping students make healthy lifestyle changes. Also, Falcon Middle School eighth grade student Alexis Flack received recognition for being known as a class leader, with strong character traits.Bryan Romero, an 11th grade student at Vista Ridge High School, also addressed the BOE during the Fantastic 49 event about the importance of a physics curricula in high school.Agenda itemsThe board listened to a resolution to approve a commitment to lease land to a charter high school. Chuck Irons, BOE director, said he had concerns about the resolution because the district has never leased land to any of the other charter schools within D 49. The current resolution specifically names Trail Ridge Academy as the charter school that would like to lease district land, but Irons said, ìThe board granted provisional approved to Trail Ridge Academy but there has been no formal approval or contract. If they have neither an approved application nor a contract, they arenít legally a charter school and canít apply for funding (to lease the property).î The board approved the resolution in a 4-1 vote, with Irons opposed.The board also addressed a new job position for the district. The position for teacher of the visually impaired has been contracted out by the district, but the board unanimously approved bringing the job inside. Marie LaVere-Wright, secretary, said, ìItís a better way to control the cost this way.îThe BOE also discussed the emergency approval of a policy regarding additional documentation for online schools. iConnect zone leader Kim McClelland said the new policy was necessary because of new regulations passed by the Colorado Department of Education that affect how the district receives funding for online students. Without the new policy, the student count in October would be inaccurate, which could prevent the district from getting the full amount of funding it is entitled to receive. LaVere-Wright said the policy would be approved on a temporary basis to meet the October student count issue. The board unanimously approved the item and agreed to discuss it at the Sept. 24 work session.The board also unanimously approved a resolution to modify a clause in the deed of a parcel of land from El Paso County Parks adjacent to Horizon Middle School. The deed to the land is in D 49ís name, but a clause in the deed states that if the land is not used and maintained as a park, the county could take it back to create a park. Half of the track and field area and half of the elementary campus of Rocky Mountain Classical Academy is on that parcel. By modifying the clause, the district will maintain possession of the land.The following action items also received unanimous approval: calendar changes at Remington and Evans International Elementary schools for the 2014-2015 school year; policy revisions based on updates within the district and the Colorado Association of School Boards; a resolution recognizing Sept. 17 as Constitution Day; and approval of a new member to the District Accountability Advisory Committee.Amber Whetstine, D 49 executive director of learning services, provided information for discussion on the districtís performance compared to other districts. The information indicated that D 49 needs some improvement, especially at the high school level. The information also defined certain schools in need of community and district support, she said.Courtney Hutchinson and Staci Gehling, fifth-grade teachers at Springs Ranch Elementary School, updated the board on the proposed Innovation Institute for targeted sixth grade students. ìThe Innovation Institute is a scientific project-based problem-solving school using 21st century technology,î Gehling said. ìIt is a sixth grade school of two classrooms in modulars on the Horizon Middle School campus.îHutchinson said the Innovation Institute addresses concerns from parents about the transition from elementary to middle school, as well as a desire for a different school model. The Institute will open during the 2015-2016 school year, with 24 students in each classroom, she said.Tim Lohr, an eighth-grade science teacher at Horizon, discussed an aquaponics greenhouse and experimental learning space he plans to build at the school. The project will provide students with a more hands-on learning environment. Several organizations have shown interest; and, if the program can secure enough funding through grants, the facility could be available for use by the end of the year, he said.The board discussed the role of the District Accountability Advisory Committee in relation to the BOE, and agreed they will ask the committee to focus on parent engagement and define the committeeís statutory obligations. The next regular meeting of the BOE is Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room of the D 49 Education Services Center.

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