District 49
El Paso County Colorado District 49

D49 BOE May meeting wrap-up

By Deb Risden

The El Paso County School District 49 Board of Education held its monthly meeting May 9. All BOE members were in attendance. Amy Matisek, internal communications manager, started the Fantastic 49 celebration. The following were recognized for their leadership:

  • Ryan Keller, Falcon High School senior, for taking an active role in gathering student feedback, including focus groups, regarding the new principal
  • Stephanie Clarke, Spanish teacher and world language department chair at Sand Creek High School, for being a mentor to her fellow teachers, providing ideas for classroom management and training staff on new instructional strategies coach
  • Brian LaCosse, a coach at Horizon Middle School, for demonstrating a commitment to equipping students for success in athletics and in life
  • Rebecca Thompson, director of academic services, Academy for Literacy, Learning and Innovation Excellence, for her dedication to ensure students with characteristics of dyslexia understand that they can learn — and helping them realize their potential

Open forum

The majority of speakers expressed support for the proposed new science and social studies curricula for Falcon High School, noting the work of a task force in evaluating possible choices.

Board update

Lori Thompson, president, attended an event at Falcon High School where Colorado’s Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera signed a proclamation designating April as the month of the Military Child. Thompson attended The Vista Ridge High School 3.75 dinner and Sand Creek High School’s 3.75 dessert. She said it was deeply moving to witness students who had earned 3.75 grade-point-average and how they honored teachers and others. Thompson also attended the Falcon Education annual fundraiser and a webinar on the potential impact of new Title IX regulations on public schools. She said D 49 opposes elements of both changes to Title IX and the adoption of the non-legal name change bill and will prepare formal positions and policies in response to the issues.

Jamilynn D’Avola, vice president, observed students learning at Odyssey, ALLIES and Skyview Middle School. She said Skyview celebrated completing CMAS (Colorado Measures of Academic Success) testing with a hot dog cookout. D’Avola attended the 3.75 events at VRHS and FHS.

Marie LaVere-Wright, secretary, attended a recent military connection fair and Falcon Education Foundation’s annual fundraiser. She said the foundation awarded multiple scholarships to graduating seniors. LaVere-Wright said because of the increase in vaping among adolescents, National Jewish Hospital has partnered with multiple public health departments in the state to offer a help line and application for adolescents interested in quitting, called MyQuit.

Mike Heil, treasurer, attended the Month of the Military proclamation signing at FHS, the VRHS taste of D 49 food show, the Falcon Education Foundation fundraiser, the military appreciation fair and all 3.75 programs. Heil said he also attended a special session with some of the D 49 finance team to learn about budgeting for the district.

Debra Schmidt, director, attended a Math DNA professional development program and the wellness committee meeting. She said this year’s 4.9k walk-run event will be held Sept. 28 at FHS. She also attended a session on the Title IX regulations.

Action items

The BOE unanimously approved the following:

  • An Honors Academy to meet the needs of gifted students
  • An integrated math program at Patriot High School
  • Student activity fees for 2024-2025
  • Nutrition Services charter school meal contract renewals for the 2024-2025 school year
  • Student transportation fees for the 2024-2025 school year

The following were approved by majority vote:

  • Falcon Zone science and social studies new curricula

Discussion items

Nancy Lemmond, executive director of individualized education, proposed a change in job title from team lead to coordinator of school health services to better reflect current job duties that include supervising school nurses and personal nursing services individuals. The job position is paid from the Medicaid in Education funds and does not impact the district’s general fund. The BOE moved it forward for a vote at the next regular meeting.

Jack Pietraallo, director of transportation, proposed adding a new position of transportation parts technician. Pietraallo said the position will allow for better planning efficiency in parts purchasing, leading to efficiencies and cost savings. The BOE moved it forward for a vote at the next regular meeting.

Dave Rex, president of the District Accountability Advisory Committee, provided the BOE with the annual financial emphasis area list for each D 49 school, which provides a baseline for the best application of funds allocated to the schools.

Bruce Brown, facility project manager, along with Wember’s project managers Matt Wilhelm and Dusty Black, reported on three major construction projects in the district:

  • The transportation center is nearing completion with anticipation of May 20 for staff move-in. Black said that paving and a new loop completed at the site has improved safety for Falcon Elementary School.
  • The VRHS addition is on schedule, with plans for completion mid-September and move-in by October.
  • Horizon Middle School auxiliary building is behind schedule because of changes in the project and weather issues. It is anticipated that the team can catch up and complete the project by December. The pre-engineered metal building will replace three modulars and contain a gym, band room, practice rooms, choir room, sixth-grade classrooms and administrative offices. The building will allow for early childhood education space if needed in the future.

David Trautenberg, chief financial officer and Spencer McCabe, budget manager, presented a proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1. Trautenberg said the current iteration of the budget is a culmination of four months of work and encompasses new salary schedules and projected revenues. The budget uses a rate of increase of 5.8% in per pupil state funding with an anticipated 1% increase in student enrollment. McCabe said the budget represents $8.1 million in salary increases and 0% increase in non-personnel expenses. LaVere-Wright said that although property taxes increased by an average of 26%, the majority of the money goes to the state to be allocated. Trautenberg said the community will be notified that a budget has been proposed and available to review. The BOE budget approval is anticipated June 13.

Trautenberg presented a quarterly financial review, indicating the district is on track with the budget forecast.

Dustin Horras, Sand Creek Zone superintendent, presented policy revisions related to graduation requirements. Horras said the state of Colorado requires demonstration of mastery in English and math. He said in 2020, D 49 policies required mastery to include other subjects such as science and social studies in anticipation of potential future state requirements. Horras said zone superintendents and Peter Hilts, D 49 superintendent, have collaborated in evaluating the need; and, based on a lack of state requirements, they are recommending D 49 remove those additional requirements. Horras also requested the BOE approve allowing weighted credit for achieving certain scores for SAT testing, similar to that earned for participation in activities such as marching band, sports and fine arts. The BOE moved both policy revisions forward for a vote at the next regular meeting.

Lanette DePaul presented four policies with minor updates for approval. The BOE moved it forward for a vote at the next regular meeting.

The next regular meeting of the BOE is June 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs.

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