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El Paso County Colorado District 49

District 49 enrollment stabilizes

After a rush of new students at the start of the school year, enrollment in Falcon School District 49 is stabilizing. In a report released by the district, the D 49 central enrollment office processed 766 new students during the summer months – 354 of those students the week before school started.”We got a large number of students coming in when the buses started going through the neighborhoods,” said Dr. Mary Guinn, D 49 deputy superintendent.The rush may be over, but new students continue to trickle in. “We are still getting military families moving into the area,” Guinn said.Two weeks into school, Guinn said attendance reports from the school principals showed 11,618 students enrolled. The number is down 200 students from the district’s projections, but Guinn said she expects the district will meet their projected enrollment of 11,800 students by Oct. 1. If the expectation is met, the numbers will represent a 2 percent increase over last year.Mary Jones, director of pre-K-12 education, said the enrollment office will now begin the process of verifying that non-returning students have moved or enrolled elsewhere. “We call every number to see where they are,” she said. “We don’t want a single student to get lost or to drop out.”In some schools, students waited two or three weeks to know exactly what classroom they were in. Guinn said the high military population in the area contributes to the need to assess and shuffle teaching staff to meet enrollment needs.She said it is not possible to solidify where staff is needed before the school year starts. “We are very careful and strategically staff the schools,” Guinn said. The district looks at historical data to make its projections, but data from the recent economic boom, when the district grew 14 percent in one year, makes estimations difficult, she said. “It takes some time to make the mark.”Any changes in teachers at the elementary school level will happen by mid to late August, Guinn said. The middle schools and high schools take a little long because students are more likely to skip the first day or week of school, she added.In light of increased enrollment, she said it is important for voters to approve the bond initiative on the November ballot. “We are at 103 percent capacity at the district,” Guinn said. “There is not a lot of room to grow. The goal of the bond is to level out the schools and reduce the overcrowding. Only three elementary schools and Sand Creek High School are not over capacity.”School board approves bond for November ballotIn a 4-0 vote, the Falcon School District 49 Board of Education approved a measure to put a bond issue on the November ballot. The proposed bond issue will finance $125 million worth of critical needs within the district because of overcrowding.D 49 is currently at 103 percent capacity district wide. Thirteen schools are over 100 percent capacity and three are over 90 percent capacity. Growth rates in the district have reached 14 percent in recent years, and enrollment grew by 3 percent last school year. Growth projections show that if the district continues to grow at a rate of 4 percent, by the 2014-15 school year every school would be at 100 percent capacity and five of nine elementary schools would be at 170 percent capacity or higher.”Alleviating overcrowding helps us maintain small class sizes and attract quality teachers,” said board treasurer Andy Holloman. “It will also help us keep up with building maintenance and create a learning environment in which students can succeed.”If passed, the bond would fund 3,500 additional seats district-wide, including a 400-student wing at Falcon High School; a new 600-student elementary school near Falcon Middle School; a new 400-student wing, auditorium, auxiliary gym and athletic fields at Vista Ridge High School; and a new 900-student K-8 school at Indigo Ranch. The bond would also build a new 900-student capacity Horizon Middle School to alleviate overcrowding at Skyview Middle School; a 300-student middle school near Woodmen Hills Elementary School to alleviate overcrowding at Falcon Middle School; and 25 new classrooms across the district at schools where they are needed most.The cost of the bond is less than $3.25 a month per $100,000 in property value for homeowners in the district. Residents of D 49 will vote on the bond issue in November. School board to support struggling charter schoolAfter several hours of discussion, the Falcon School District 49 Board of Education voted unanimously to step in to oversee Rocky Mountain Charter Academy’s finances and operations for the duration of this school year, while the two entities work toward a permanent and successful management structure. D 49 will now supervise approval authority over financial operations and strategic decisions, staffing, expenditures of more than $5,000 and external contracts. A new House bill allows the chartering district to step in, with the help of the Colorado Department of Education, to work with the charter school to move toward financial stability without revoking the charter’s contract.RMCA had been facing financial issues throughout the 2009-2010 school year. At a special meeting in May, the BOE placed RMCA on probation and set terms of the probation. At that time, the contract required that any failure to meet those terms could result in immediate revocation of RMCA’s charter. RMCA was unable to meet the requirement that it have a positive fund balance at the end of the last fiscal year; it was short about $80,000.At its Aug. 12 meeting, the D 49 BOE met with RMCA’s board to determine the best course of action. D 49 will work closely with RMCA throughout the current school year to develop a plan to get RMCA back on track financially by the end of this school year, focusing on educational and operational management.RMCA’s high school is not financially viable and also has had some of the lowest CSAP scores in the district. The approved arrangement will specifically focus on identifying ways to ensure financial and educational viability for that school in the future, while ensuring a positive learning environment for students.Falcon Elementary wins grant to enhance engineering programDesigning airplanes, testing parachutes and competing for bids on their projects are all part of the engineering focus for students at Falcon Elementary School. The program is enhanced by volunteer engineers from Northrop Grumman.FES has been awarded a DiscoverE Grant of $750 to fund additions to the school’s math and science programs through Northrop Grumman. The program also continues to keep the collaborative relationship between engineers and students in place.Northrop Grumman engineers work with Falcon Elementary students in a variety of ways: leading lessons for the Engineering is Elementary Program, working with the fourth and fifth graders on end-of-the-year projects, assisting at the science fair and helping with classroom activities related to engineering. The engineer volunteers also share ideas for lesson plans with teachers.The FES principal and engineering program coordinator, along with a representative from Northrop Grumman, will work together to decide how the funds will be used within the science and math curriculum.For additional information on any Falcon School District 49 schools or programs, visit

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