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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49 BOE update

The El Paso County School District 49 Board of Education held its monthly meeting May 12. Amy Matisek, internal communications manager, recognized the Fantastic 49 recipients.

  • Stephanie Jordan, English language arts professor, Academy for Literacy, Learning & Innovation, for recognizing student academic growth
  • Elaine Cunningham, dean of early childhood education, for her work with youngest learners and teachers and paraeducators
  • Tara Wold, innovation professor, Academy for Literacy, Learning & Innovation, for leading the innovation lab and inspiring creative thinkers
  • VLT administration team ó Barbara Austin-Seeley, Kari Frederick, Jennifer Kiggins, Tricia Burley, Michelle Garrett, Michelle Wortkoetter ó for organizing the Voice of the Workforce System
  • Justin Loudon, strength and conditioning coach at Vista Ridge High School, for elevating student athletes: The program has received national awards, including the Strength of America Award.
  • Vista Ridge High School student athletes ó Baylea Larson, Tyson Monck, Heila Pearson, Patrick Sheehan ó for excellence in athletics, academics and leadership
Chief officersí updatePedro Almeida, chief operations officer, addressed proposed fee increases. He said nutrition fee increases are required and not controlled by the district. Transportation costs are rising and the proposed fee increase is not as high as anticipated. Almeida reported on the response to the Stetson Hills fire and evacuations, noting that staff and teachers were professional as they worked with students and families. He said execution of the emergency plan was ìabsolutely phenomenal.îBrett Ridgway, chief business officer, reported that progress is being made on the system conversion despite reduced staff. He said that SB-22 passed and would result in about $1.3 million for D 49. Ridgway thanked representatives Dennis Hisey, Larry Liston and Bob Gardner for supporting the bill.Peter Hilts, chief education officer, highlighted the D 49 communications team that received state recognition both as a team and for the individual accomplishments of each team member. ìWe have an outstanding communications department,î Hilts said.Board updateJohn Graham, president, said he visited about 10 schools during Teacher Appreciation Week and several more over the past month. He said when he talks to students and parents, they have all had positive reviews for the teachers. Graham said the work with an outside consultant to develop performance metrics should be completed by the end of June. He reminded those present that board members represent themselves and their personal opinions when they speak. When a vote is conducted, their voices are as members of the board.Rick Van Wieren, vice president, attended the 3.75 Dessert recognition event, honoring students who have maintained a 3.75 grade point average or above for each semester during their high school careers. He was impressed that the students chose to honor teachers who have impacted their education. Van Wieren noted Ridgeview Elementary won the Capturing Kids Hearts Showcase Award for the fifth straight year. He attended the Falcon Education Foundation event and said $39,000 was raised for teachers and students. He would like to see that fundraising effort double. He said he met a family in the community who could not enroll their child in ALLIES because there is no room. Van Wieren said D 49 needs to increase capacity. Ivy Liu, director, thanked the constituents for their support and discussed critical race theory. She said, ìCritical race theory utilizes a divide and conquer tactic from the communist manifesto. Ö We must develop a unified strategy that protects our children and prioritizes academic excellence.îLori Thompson, secretary, attended the Falcon Education Foundation dinner event and described the foundation as a ìfantastic nonprofit that offers scholarships for our students and grants for our teachers.î Thompson talked about the rollout of the new SPED initiative. ìThe new plan will be stressing the importance of a cultural shift needed in the district at all levels that would include the need for special education to have respectful, inclusive language practices and overall meaningful engagement with parents, staff, etc.,î she said. ìAnd itís going to be critically important to have frequent check-ins with staff.î Thompson said she and Graham visited a Goal Academy drop-in site. She said that 97% of the students at the facility are considered at-risk; e.g., those in foster care or those with a history of delinquency and addiction issues.Jamilynn DíAvola, director, said she visited a Spanish class at Falcon High School and found the students to be fully engaged with the teacher and the lesson. She congratulated the JROTC group for being inducted into Space Force.Action itemsThe BOE approved the following:
  • Treasurer and liaison assignments
  • Chief officer contract renewal
  • Nutrition services charter school meal contracts renewal for the 2022-2023 school year
  • Pay schedules for licensed, SSP, ESP, prof/tech, administrative and extracurricular staff
  • Fees: student grade level/participation
  • Fees: nutrition services (minimum federal requirement)
  • Coordinator of early childhood education job description
  • Special education instruction coach job description
  • Coordinator of career and technical education
  • Alternative education campus renewal
The BOE did not approve a proposal to increase transportation fees.Discussion itemsSamantha Hollister, Special Education Advisory Committee parent and co-chair, and Tina Vidovich, iConnect Zone academic administrator and SEAC staff co-chair, presented an update on SEAC and plans for the upcoming school year. SPED areas of improvement include training for both general and special education teachers and the continued need for inclusive language and culture across the district. Vidovich said, ìWe understand the need for inclusion, and we understand how we speak about students with disabilities is just as important as what we do because it shapes our thinking around them.î Hollister said awareness of SEAC is low and one of the ways to increase it will be with targeted events such as hosting a resource fair at Skyview Middle School in September. Several districts have been invited; D 11 and D 20 have agreed to cosponsor.Nancy Lemmond, executive director of individualized education, presented a job description for a program coordinator for the School to Work Alliance Program. The vote will take place at the next board meeting.Bruce Brown, facility project manager, provided an update on completed facilities projects. He said final scheduling and pricing are not completed for Elevation Middle School; Bennett Ranch Elementary School construction is on schedule; and the transportation center project is out to bid with an anticipated 12-month construction time frame. Ron Sprinz, director of finance, reviewed proposed revenue and expenses for each fund, which will be presented in detail to the board in June.Brett Bateman, vice chair of the District Accountability Advisory Committee, presented a financial priorities list. Bateman listed employee compensation; technology (devices for students and staff), infrastructure support, and functional components such as smart boards; curricular materials; professional development; and community and family engagement resources.Jeff Chamberlain, executive director of learning services, presented information about the new federal Juneteenth holiday. The board will vote whether to add the holiday at the next meeting. The holiday does not impact students, just paid staff.Lou Fletcher, director of culture and services, presented the results of a recent community thought exchange for the development of a parental bill of rights and responsibilities. Sixty-two percent of 1,003 participants were parents or guardians of students. Some participants felt that the district already had policies in place, and more energy should be put toward supporting teachers; others felt the topic is partisan and political. The board will garner further input from others, including advisory councils.Policy and Procedure Review was moved to a special meeting in June. Graham requested that board members review policies.The next regular meeting of the BOE is June 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs.

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