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El Paso County Colorado District 49

From the CEO – D 49’s greatest gifts

In this season of gifts and gratitude, it is fitting that District 49 has much to offer and many people to thank. One of the greatest gifts weíve received is the affirmation of our people and programs. After months of conversations and campaigns, we learned that our community supports our plans to improve compensation for teachers, enhance security for our schools, and fund better educational programs and technology to help our students achieve like never before. We also learned that our community wants us to keep serving students in the facilities we have, without adding the upgrades and new schools we proposed through the bond election. We are grateful for both outcomes, because they give us focus and set our districtís operating conditions for the next four years. Later this month, our chief officers and administrative team will present a series of proposals and options to our board so we can decide how to move forward together.One destination we have already determined is a future where primary literacy is our primary commitment. Over fall break, we ran a district-wide literacy camp that provided over 1,300 hours of intensive literacy support to students with the most significant opportunity to improve. In a normal school schedule, it would take over two months to provide the kind of attentive and intensive instruction that we accomplished in just two weeks through the literacy camp. Meanwhile, volunteers from our community led book drives through the fall so we were able to give every student who attended literacy camp a book of their ownóevery day they came to camp! As we monitor the progress of all our younger readers, we hope to build on the success of our fall literacy camp by doubling the number of students served this spring, and then reaching out to an even bigger population next summer. Another gift we plan to unwrap this spring is concurrent enrollment. Through 49 Pathways, our initiative to customize education for every secondary student, we are launching a pilot program for qualified high school students to take college courses this spring. Students from all of our district high schools will be taking courses through Pikes Peak Community College and the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Our community has told us that early enrollment and free tuition have real value, so we are building a program that will serve hundreds of students in the years to come.Programs like the Fall Literacy Camp and Concurrent College Enrollment are part of what makes District 49 a great place to learn, work, and lead. Thatís why Education Week, our industryís professional trade publication, recently named District 49 one of the top ì25 Districts to Visit.î Along with the Getting Smart Schools initiative, Education Week commended District 49 for the way our unique structure of innovation zones allows us to specialize programs for the needs of specific communities. They pointed out the diversity of programs in the iConnect Zone, and the commitment to advanced academic along with career and technical education that shows up across the district.Recognition from national publications is encouraging, and it flows from the leadership of dedicated parents, students and professionals. Thatís why I want to conclude this message with a word of thanks to someone who has been all of those and more. As the founding leader of the iConnect Zone, Kim McClelland has been a forceful advocate for our virtual, blended, home school, alternative, charter, and online schools. Many of our most dynamic programs owe a significant part of their success and improvement to Kimís leadership and perseverance. Now, one of Kimís major contributions ó a special partnership we formed with the Yuma School District, which is called the Colorado Digital Board of Cooperative Educational Services, has grown to serve over 1,700 students around the state. Kim has been instrumental in the CD-BOCES since the beginning, so it is a natural progression for her to become its first, full-time executive director. We are grateful for Kimís years of leadership in District 49, pleased that she will remain part of our district through the BOCES, and excited to see how many more districts, schools, and students will benefit from her vision and dedication.In this season of giving and gratitude, we thank you ó our community ó for the gift of trust. We give back our promise that we do not take that gift lightly or for granted. We are here because you entrust us with the education of your children and the development of our community. Thank you for the opportunity to live up to your expectations. May your holidays be bright, meaningful and blessed!

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