District 49
El Paso County Colorado District 49

D49 BOE April meeting wrap-up

By Deb Risden

The El Paso County School District 49 Board of Education held its monthly meeting April 11. All members were in attendance. Amy Matisek, internal communications manager, started the Fantastic 49 celebration recognizing the following:

  • Destiny Williams, lunch and recess monitor at ALLIES, for fostering a safe and inclusive environment for all learners.
  • Corey Bates and Marci Strunc, Falcon Middle School math teachers, for supporting seventh-grade math classes when a teacher position remained unfilled.
  • Pam Travnicek, community volunteer at Springs Ranch Elementary, for helping teachers and students with needs and projects
  • Special education staff at Evans Elementary — Samantha Cosgrove, Cheryl Betheta, Lindsey Hurley, Amanda Johnston, Marla Line and Lauren Owens — for creating an environment where all students are accepted, nurtured and inspired to grow academically.

Superintendent’s update

Peter Hilts, superintendent, said CMAS (Colorado Measures of Academic Success) testing has been completed. He said the district is increasing its commitment to gifted and talented students with educators working hard to identify strengths in academics, leadership, arts, language and others. Hilts said that a program at Sand Creek High School run by the community liaison collects and distributes prom dresses from students for students. Hilts said that GOAL Academy, an alternative statewide charter school the district sponsors, has less than 5% students from D 49. GOAL has 6,000 students, which is more than all D 49 high schools combined. The graduation rates of GOAL are included in the Colorado Department of Education’s graduation statistics. Hilts said most of the students at GOAL take more than four years to graduate and skew the numbers for D 49. He said the other high schools in the district have a graduation rate above 90%. “By including GOAL (graduation rates), we understand we are going to be subject to accusations and criticisms. If you say you care about kids, you have to care about all kids.”

Board update

Lori Thompson, president, attended the long-range facility planning committee meeting and received an update on the state of the district buildings. She attended the Student Board of Representatives meeting where she observed students debating resolutions and sharing information about their schools. Thompson said the House Bill opposed by the BOE that reduced local control for school security has been withdrawn. She encouraged the public to submit any questions or concerns about the district to the BOE in writing.

Jamilynn D’Avola, vice president, said she is anticipating significant changes in CMAS scores. She said she was looking forward to upcoming end-of-school year events, especially the 3.75 GPA dinner with seniors who are honored for achieving a 3.75 GPA during their high school career.

Mike Heil, treasurer, said he attended the long-range facility planning committee meeting, noting the importance of planning for district growth and maintaining facilities.

Debra Schmidt, director, said she recently became certified in youth mental health first aid after attending a course at Skyview Middle School and completing online modules.

Action items

The BOE unanimously approved the following:

  • Peer Partners Program at Falcon High school
  • Teacher Appreciation Week Proclamation of May 6-10
  • Lead facilities equipment technician job description
  • April will be the month of the military child
  • Three revised policies regarding financial stability, payroll procedures and student fees, fines and charges

The BOE approved the following in a majority vote:

  • Library and classroom book protocols for collection, curation and clearance policy

Discussion items

Ryan Bailey, Patriot High School principal, proposed implementing an integrated math program at PHS. He said some students come into the school credit-deficient and this program focuses more on skills as opposed to content. He said the traditional sequence is algebra I, geometry, algebra II; whereas, the integrated program gives them the ability to place students based on their skill level and allows building on prior learning. The BOE moved it forward for a vote at the next regular meeting.

CJ Jilek and Daniel Payne, facilities group managers, provided an update on the operations performance of the facilities department. Jilek said a new safety program was implemented in the department with positive results. He said the facilities team completed yearly site walks to identify capital improvement needs, completed fire and safety inspections and identified maintenance issues needing corrective action. The team evaluated the facilities master plan deficiencies list and incorporated that list into the district’s master capital improvement list. Payne said the grounds and maintenance staff completed over 11,895 work orders in the past 12 months, anticipating the total will reach 12,000 in the next year based on trends they are seeing. He said the number of work orders per technician is growing, causing a slowdown in order completions.

Pay schedule proposal

David Trautenberg, chief financial officer; Paul Anderson, executive director for people and culture; and Spencer McCabe, budget manager; presented proposed pay schedules. Hilts provided parameters and priorities for pay schedule changes. He said the district must have a balanced budget, be able to afford increases that are sustainable. He said there were three priorities: To simplify, clarify and make transparent the teacher pay schedule; to bring the teacher starting salary from $47,000 to at least $50,000 per year to be competitive with local school districts; and to get the maximum amount of money to the maximum amount of employees. The Voice of the Workforce team established a subcommittee to work with human resources and finance to construct new pay schedules.

Trautenberg said they wanted to create a more linear pay schedule with consistent step movements without any deceleration. He said they wanted to ensure no teacher was worse off with the new schedule and compression should be minimized.

Anderson said the proposed pay schedule would provide for a starting pay of $50,059 for new teachers. Immediate salary increases would average 9.3%; no individual would receive less than 6.5%. He said the new schedule honors education advancement, incentives for degree completion and provides for inflationary increases. Anderson said the salary schedules for professional, technical and administrative employees would propose an average increase of 7% with no increase less than 6%, as well as provide for inflationary increases.

Hilts addressed the phenomenon of leapfrogging, meaning when a teacher gets hired at a higher rate than an existing teacher with the same amount of experience. In that situation, the pay of the existing district teacher would be adjusted, as required by law. There are other identified potential situations where teachers with more experience could be paid less than the new schedule rates.

Note: In a special session on April 25, the BOE unanimously approved the new pay schedules. Repositioning options were discussed, and it is anticipated formal proposals will be presented to the BOE at the October regular meeting.

Time Niemeyer holding a guitar, sitting outdoors with mountains in the background, wearing a floral shirt.

The next regular meeting of the BOE is May 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs.

Boettcher Scholar

Time Niemeyer was recently named a 2024 Boettcher Scholar. He is graduating from Colorado Early Colleges Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak State College with an associate degree in May. He attended Pikes Peak School of Expeditionary Learning. “I am extremely honored and excited to be named a 2024 Boettcher Scholarship recipient and will be attending the Colorado School of Mines next fall studying mathematics and engineering,” Niemeyer said. He grew up on a small ranch outside of Peyton. “I drove close to an hour every day to attend college classes since my freshman year,” he said. “I love learning and am extremely passionate about math and science. I love horses, cattle and guitars.” Niemeyer has been the president of his local 4-H club as well as the National Honor Society at his school. He attended the Colorado Springs Conservatory and played numerous shows at the Broadmoor. He also has an album on Spotify (160 hours by Tim3). “Between ranch life, music, leadership and academics, I still always find time to enjoy the beautiful Rocky Mountains,” Niemeyer said.

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