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El Paso County Colorado District 49

December D 49 board meeting update

School District 49 board members Amy McClelland, Dave Martin and Randy Brungardt reported on the Colorado Association of School Boards meeting. The meeting covered future legislation that will benefit school funding. “Bill Ritter campaigned on the fact that Colorado is one of the lowest states in the country with regard to school funding, and that must change,” Brungardt said.Superintendent Nancy Wright said in February she expects to have another count of the number of children in D 49 who live on military property. Wright said the count should improve funding for the district.Board member Dave Martin met with Michael Merrifield, representative for House District 18 and chair of the Colorado House education committee, and John Morse, senator-elect for Colorado Senate District 11.The board also honored Lou Broth, a third-grade teacher at Woodmen Hills Elementary School; and Susan Schmidt, Brenda Miller and Frances Martinez – all eighth-grade teachers at Skyview Middle School. The teachers were recognized for programs they developed to teach their students about the United States Constitution.Falcon Elementary School Principal Nancy Valdez spoke about her school’s goal of having a seamless integration of technology across the curriculum, with an emphasis on reading, writing, math, communication, problem solving, information analysis and collaboration. The school maintains a ratio of one computer for every three students, with five to six PCs in each classroom, plus a traveling laptop cart with enough laptops for all students.Valdez said the school’s fifth-grade teachers are proud of the $35,000 “HP Technology for Teachers” grant the school received this year. The grant was one of 130 grants awarded nationwide to K-12 schools. Teachers are using the money to teach science, math and computer skills by studying the ecosystem of the wetlands west of Falcon Elementary School. Students are monitoring temperature and pH, oxygen, phosphate, nitrate levels in the water as it moves through the wetlands. Early results show that water becomes cleaner as it moves through the wetlands. Final results will be posted at the El Paso County Environmental Office’s Web site. The students are working with the county Department of Transportation to study the effects of storm water runoff.R.J. Berry from the district’s transportation department was awarded a $1,500 check from the Horizon Middle School Community Club for the Santa’s Toy Express program. Over the past year, the club held fundraising events to raise money for the program. Berry also received a check for $1,000 on behalf of Santa’s Toy Express from an anonymous donor in the district’s facilities department.During the first open forum, teacher Mary Lougee talked about the district’s media policy. In response to a complaint about the use of a video, some principals have restricted the use of full-length videos in the classroom. Lougee distributed letters from teachers, parents and students expressing their concern about the restriction. Dave Martin said the board needs to review the policy. Wright said a committee will be making a media policy proposal in February or March.The board unanimously approved the following agenda items:

  • A trip to the National Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Fla. in February for the Sand Creek High School cheerleading squad
  • Ski trips to Keystone and Winter Park for 25 members of the Falcon and Sand Creek high school *A trip for three marketing students to the Distributive Education Clubs of America Sports & Entertainment Marketing Conference in Orlando, Fla. in February. They will attend workshops on sports and entertainment marketing.
  • A change to the overtime pay policy for support staff: After the U.S. Department of Labor audits, comp time for support staff was eliminated, and pay for overtime work was instituted. The approved change aligns the policy with the current practice.
  • Change orders with no net cost implications for construction contracts with Nunn Construction for work at Meridian Ranch Elementary School and Skyview Middle School. Jim Walsh, Construction Manager, noted that new facilities at Skyview Middle School opened last week a month ahead of schedule and under budget.
  • Renewal of membership in the District Accountability Advisory Committee; DAAC is a program to develop accountability and parental and community involvement.
  • Creation of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Sand Creek High School. Currently, students are being bussed from Sand Creek High School to the existing program at Falcon High School.
The Mill Levy Oversight Task Force is recruiting three new members, preferably members residing in the western and southern areas of the district. The task force meets on the third Tuesday of the month beginning at 6 p.m. in the D 49 administration building board room.During the second open forum, Grayson Merry, ninth-grader at Sand Creek High School, first year cadet in the AFJROTC program and member of Boy Scout Troop #99, asked three questions about the new high school: 1. When selecting a site for construction, isn’t an environmental survey done? Dave Stark said an environmental survey was done and that the survey protected the taxpayers from accepting a costly liability. 2. If no one knew the toxic material was there, is it possible more toxic material exists? Stark said the district has notified the county and state departments of health; they will investigate further. 3. The cost of construction is already over budget, so where will the money come from? Stark said they have applied for some grants. Their application to receive excess lottery money was turned down. “We have a lot of hard work to do,” Stark said. Anna Bartha said they are working on different options like changing the focus of the school.The next regular BOE meeting is Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the central administration building l at 10850 E. Woodmen Road.

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