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El Paso County Colorado District 49

November BOE meeting wrap-up

All members of the El Paso County Colorado School District 49 were present for the regular meeting in November. John Koster, director, attended via Zoom and in person. Taylor Thorp, a 12th grade student from Falcon High School, attended as a member of the student board of representatives.Before the regular meeting, the BOE held a ìFantastic 49î event and recognized staff and students who helped at the fall science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics camps that were funded by a Department of Defense Education Activity grant. Sixty-five students in grades K-8 attended the camps, which were held during fall break.The board also recognized individuals from Fort Carson and Peterson-Shriever Garrison (U.S. Space Command) for their collaboration with the district to help secure $1.5 million for D 49 over the next five years through a grant called ìMission DNS (Deploying Numeracy Achievement: The Building Blocks of Mathematical Minds.)îBoard updateJohn Graham, president, said the district moved quickly into an e-learning model due to increases in the number of people in El Paso County who have tested positive for COVID-19. ìI do know that there is a percentage of parents that are very upset,î he said. ìWe want to acknowledge that they are upset and that they are frustrated. But we also have a large contingent in the community that are satisfied that we are considering all options and putting the safety of the children and the staff and teachers ó and the parents, quick frankly ó first.îChief officersí updatePeter Hilts, chief education officer, attended the meeting via Zoom and said the safety problem Graham referenced was not because students and staff were in danger of getting infected with COVID while in the district facilities but because there were not enough teachers and substitute teachers available to safely staff classrooms across the district.ìWe did have a couple of cases of an at-school or an at-a-school-event transmission,î he said. ìMuch more of the issue is that we did not have a critical mass of adults on campus to have stable operations. If you are understaffed, that has other kinds of safety implications.îPedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said the district will continue to provide free meals for the D 49 community for kids up to 18 years old, even during e-learning times. He also said cleaning will continue throughout the district to reduce the risk to special student groups ñ- special education students and students who are at risk of failing or in danger of physical harm because of e-learning ñ- and teachers who continue to learn and operate from the districtís facilities.Almeida also recognized the extra effort put forth by his team members for providing safe polling locations for the community during the Nov. 3 election.Open forumBetty McDonald, school engagement librarian with the Pikes Peak Library District, said she wanted to remind everyone, including parents, that the PPLD has an enormous amount of resources for students, including one called ìBrain Fuse Help Now.î That resource provides online tutoring for students in kindergarten through college age for things like skill building and test preparations, she said.Action itemsThe BOE unanimously approved the following:

  • Review of the following policies and procedures: public information and communications; administration of medical marijuana to qualified students; expulsion prevention; student discipline; student use of cell phones and other personal technology devices; and service animals
  • A resolution celebrating American Education Week from Nov. 16-20, 2020
  • A resolution for the use of charter buses to transport district students to and from school events
  • Pay range adjustments for specific skilled trade roles: HVAC technician; irrigation technician; and transportation certified fleet technician
  • Changes to the payroll deductions policy and establishment of the payroll deductions to recover compensation overpayments policy
  • Extension of the charter contract with GOAL (Guided Online Academic Learning) Academy through June 30, 2023
  • Extension of the James Irwin Charter School renewal timeline, until Feb. 11, 2021
  • A fee in lieu of a land agreement with RAO Investments for property located at the corner of Cowpoke Road and Forest Meadows Avenue for $1,685,244
Discussion itemsElaine Cunningham, dean of early childhood education, provided a performance report for ECE in D 49, highlighting strengths and identifying opportunities for improvement and future growth.Patsy Prettyman, nursing services team lead, reported on the performance of the nursing services in D 49 and recognized every school nurse in the district by name. She highlighted the departmentís strengths and identified opportunities for improvement and future growth.Karen Sandidge, dean of Performance Excellence ñ Academic Knowledge programs, reported on the PEAK programs, highlighting the strengths and identifying opportunities for improvement and future growth.Mike Pickering, POWER Zone leader, provided an update on the zoneís performance and discussed plans to continue supporting student learning across all academic levels and through all learning modes; identifying gaps in learning and planning how to bridge those gaps; using the Capturing Kidsí Hearts philosophy to provide additional social emotional support for staff and students; and analyzing the Voice of the Workforce survey results to create plans to provide support to specific areas as identified by staff.Ron Sprinz, director of finance, updated the board on the amended budget, which shows that current student counts are trending lower than budgeted, creating a negative potential impact to the districtís general fund. The October student count numbered about 536 fewer students than the budgeted student count, according to his report.Kevin Butcher, vice president, and Dave Cruson, treasurer, presented improvements to the BOE evaluation process, including updating the current BOE evaluation survey, making board training a priority and planning for recruiting and encouraging community members to run for the school board.The board unanimously decided to move this forward for action at the next BOE meeting.The board entered into an executive session for legal advice regarding a stakeholder grievance related to an incident that occurred on Sept. 11. No action was taken at that time. After returning to regular session, the board unanimously voted to adopt the analysis of requested resolutions proposed by Hilts; they directed him and the administration to implement those proposed resolutions no later than six months from the meeting date.The next regular meeting of the BOE is Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Creekside Success Centerís Peakview Hall.

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