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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Notes from D 49 March board meeting

More than 100 people attended the March D 49 school board meeting.Dr. Steven Hull, superintendent of D 49, began the meeting by introducing Sandy Rivera, principal of Skyview Middle School. Rivera gave a presentation on the unique programs offered at Skyview that include Gateway to Technology, which is an activities oriented program that combines science, math and technology to engage students in design, development and production engineering.Following Rivera’s presentation, Dave Stark, school board president, asked Rivera about the challenges involved in an overcrowded school. Rivera said teaming with teachers and coordinating lunches were two of the difficulties. Board member Anna Bartha asked Rivera why she thought the CSAP math scores were low. Rivera said she wasn’t sure, but they are doing everything possible to address the problem. Joe Cole, community relations coordinator, addressed the group about the many phone calls he had received about the annual update booklet that was sent to D 49 taxpayers. The booklet resembled a stockholder report, and people were concerned about the cost of putting it together. Cole told the board that the previous method cost 18 cents more per copy compared to this report; thus, saving the district $5,000.During the open forum, a representative of Rocky Mountain Classical Academy updated the board on the charter school’s progress. The school will be located east of Horizon Middle School, with its own entrance and exit. In addition, RMCA has contracted for a 34,000-square-foot modular facility that will be fully operational by July 1. They also hired a director of curriculum and instruction who will train teachers on classical methodology and the core knowledge curriculum. For more information, their Web site is Mark Shook addressed the school board concerning Hull’s request for additional administrative staff. Hull had previously mentioned he would like to be more involved in lobbying for the district. Shook disagreed, and said that Hull “should only be concerned with managing the district, not lobbying.”Jeff Wright also addressed his concerns about the hiring of more administrators. “A 50 percent CSAP proficiency in math should not be celebrated,” Wright said. He urged the board not to accept the status quo.D. Dubois, a seven-year resident, urged the board to fix teachers’ salaries before hiring new administrators and to look at the school boundaries more carefully. He was concerned that students can live across the street from a school and still be bussed to another.Cecile Ford spoke in favor of Rocky Mountain Classical Academy and told the board that she found the CSAP scores “alarming.”Peggy Littleton, a member of the Colorado State Board of Education, informed the board of happenings at the state level in education. “We are focusing on school finance, early childhood literacy, the choice revolution, data accountability and closing the achievement gap in pre-kindergarten through grade three,” Littleton said.Action Items:Hull presented a job description for the chief operating officer, salary levels from other districts for comparison and a summary of the purposes of the requested leadership changes (“Leadership Reorganization for Leadership Improvement.”)Hull assured the board that he will always be heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of the district. He said his lobbying efforts had been exaggerated by others. “I have spent a total of 3.5 hours in my 160 days as superintendent speaking to legislators,” Hull said. He then detailed his job description as superintendent, stating that he is “the staff member primarily responsible for providing vision, leadership and ensuring the district is continuously improving.” Hull described his position as the “chief executive officer,” and said that role has “significant community responsibilities, including establishing strong working relationships with local, regional, state and national officials; military commanders, business leaders, nonprofit organization leaders, community leaders, parent groups, district department heads, principals and cabinet members.”In comparison, the “chief operating officer” would be primarily responsible for the day-today operations of the district. The COO also will manage nutritional services, information technology, transportation and facilities. Bartha again expressed concern that Hull would spend too much time lobbying and asked where teacher salary increases fit in the picture. Hull said they are currently looking at salary comparisons with other local districts but also noted that educational data consistently shows there is no correlation between teacher salaries and student achievement. Board member Laine Gibson agreed.Dave Stark, president of the school board, called for a separate vote on the positions of chief operating officer, director of elementary education, elementary school No. 9 principal and a principal for high school No. 3. Stark noted that the vote for the two principal positions was only to decide that a principal was needed for each school. All board members agreed. The chief operating officer position was approved 4-to-1 with Bartha voting no. All other positions passed unanimously.Dr. Lynne Lane, executive director of curriculum and instruction, then recommended that Pam Weyer, current assistant principal for Woodman Hills Elementary School, be promoted to principal of the new elementary school No. 9. Lane said Weyer was chosen out of 19 applicants after personal interviews and two site visits. Weyer was approved 5-to-0.The next board of education meeting is scheduled April 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Skyview Middle School.

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