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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49 December board meeting

About 40 people attended the December school board meeting at Falcon High School. Four board members were on hand, and Dave Stark, who is on duty with the U.S. Marines, weighed in on speaker phone.At the start of the meeting, an agenda item was added at the request of new board member Anna Bartha, who recommended changing the term “Winter Break” back to “Christmas Break.”Mike Collins, principal of Woodmen Hills Elementary School, and Pam Weyer, vice principal, gave a presentation on WHES achievements. Superintendent Dr. Steven Hull updated the audience on district goals and meetings on the draft process of attendance boundaries for the new schools. Hull also said he is incorporating a new process for hiring school principals, although the details are not complete. Hull also discussed the CSAP testing for technology.Henry Weitwiesner, director of auxiliary services and construction management, reported that the new elementary school is on schedule and under budget. And meetings regarding the additions to Meridian Ranch Elementary and Spring Ranch Elementary are going well as are the preliminary construction meetings for the two new high schools.Doug Peden, human resources director, said 72 additional students have joined the district since fall break. Because they enrolled after Oct. 1, no state monies will be provided.The open forum brought forth several comments regarding Anna Bartha’s request to discuss changing winter break back to Christmas break. Opinions both for and against were represented by community members.Scott Davenport, who referred to himself as a devout atheist, told the board that changing the name from winter break to Christmas break would only cause division for the district. He said the district would be tied up in lawsuits for years and money would be wasted. Davenport said if the district went forward with the change, he would call the ACLU. Mark Shook took the opposing view that changing the name was simply recognizing a federal holiday. “It’s an American tradition and should be respected,” Shook said. Others spoke out in support of both sides.The NFH asked the board for a status report on what’s happening with the developers’ promise of $10 million in upfront monies to the district. President Dave Martin responded, and said the developers are trying to find ways to get the money. “We do know that the developers are seeking financing with lenders,” Martin said. “The board will stay on top of this. We are trying to nurture this relationship.” Martin asked that a representative from the developers attend the next BOE meeting and give the board and the community an update.The school board conditionally approved the Rocky Mountain Classical Academy, a K-8 school modeled after School District 20’s The Classical Academy. This is the second conditional charter school approved by D 49.Michelle Lang, district nutritional services director, presented information on the new federal requirements for a health and wellness policy that must be enacted by July 1, 2006. A committee will be formed by mid-January.There also was good news regarding the mill levy rate. Lisa Schneider, chief financial officer for the district, told the board that due to a much larger mill-levy rate assessment than expected, homeowners will see a $2.37 per $100,000 in their home value monthly increases, rather than the projected $6.50 per $100,000 value. The announcement drew cheers from the audience.The next BOE meeting will be held Dec. 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the central office boardroom.

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