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El Paso County Colorado District 49

School board meeting

Forty people attended the November D 49 school board meeting. Board member Anna Bartha was not present. Sand Creek High School was the guest school, and Principal Mike Collins said the school is focused on ensuring that students transition to the ninth grade successfully. “If we make sure that kids make it through ninth grade, graduation rates go up and the drop-out rate goes down,” Collins said. “We’re focused on developing stronger parent/community partnerships and planning for future growth. We’re considering modular buildings to get to a one-track system for the 2007-2008 year, and we want to extend the fence around the school so we can control who is coming and going.”The board voted unanimously to meet the second Thursday of each month in 2007. Work sessions will be held the fourth Wednesday of each month. The schedule change was requested so the BOE meetings are held shortly after the latest financial information becomes available.Kevin Butcher, president of the Falcon Education Foundation, awarded $14,911.36 in mini-grants to D 49 teachers. (see more on the foundation in this section)Ronnie Goad, a teacher at Falcon Middle School, received a $924.72 mini-grant for two projects: a program to improve reading fluency and comprehension in students who are more than four years behind grade level and a program called “Prime Attack,” which uses video games to improve basic math skills.Jwan Joslin, a French teacher at Falcon High School, received a $1,000 mini-grant to purchase a series of mini-novels written in French for teens and about teens. She said reading French novels helps the students become fluent in French, adding that the mini-novels are motivators to keep the teenagers interested.Other Falcon High School teachers who received mini-grants were Maria Green ($1,000) and Marie LaVere-Wright ($996). Alyze Dalzell, a teacher at Meridian Ranch Elementary School, received a mini-grant of $1,188, and Katie Kessler, a teacher at Woodmen Hills Elementary School, received a mini-grant of $631.01.Tara Anderson, a student at Woodman Hills Elementary School, was awarded a $100 savings bond for her first-place entry in the statewide school bus safety poster contest. Her winning poster has been forwarded to a national competition.The board voted unanimously to approve a request by Dale Jackson, Falcon High School baseball coach. Jackson plans to travel with a team of 20 to 24 student athletes to Las Vegas, Nev., during spring break to play non-conference games hosted by Faith Lutheran High School and Spring Valley High School. “The trip will allow representatives of colleges and universities outside Colorado to see our students compete and open doors to future scholarships,” Jackson said. The board’s approval was contingent on receipt of emergency contact information for each student, the recruitment of the appropriate number of chaperones per the district’s field trip handbook and background checks on the chaperones.R.J. Berry, in the guise of Santa Claus, talked about the transportation department’s Santa’s Toy Express project. (See story by R.J. Berry in this section) BOE members donated $500 to the project, and D 49 school bus drivers donate one day of pay. Residents can sponsor a child as well by calling R.J. Berry at 719-495-3601.The board voted unanimously to approve the request of the mill levy over-site committee to amend their bylaws to allow a majority vote of active members as opposed to a majority vote of the membership.John Cassiani, vice president of project operations at Banning Lewis Ranch, presented information to the board on the proposed dedication of 20 acres for a K-8 charter school in Village 2 of the BLR development. He said BLR’s goal is to have the school open and operational by June 2008. Cassiani said they are looking at Villages 4, 5 and 6 for a possible high school site. Superintendent Nancy Wright asked if BLR would consider leasing a school back to D 49 so that it could be operated as a public school. Cassiani said if the numbers work for BLR and the district, they would consider a lease arrangement.During the open forum, Mary Lougee and Jackie Vialpando spoke about their concern for the district’s reliance on charter schools. “We have four charter schools, but charter schools are unproven and they don’t have a good track record in Colorado,” Vialpando said. “Is this what we want for our kids? Teachers at charter schools don’t have to be licensed by the state of Colorado.””Public schools are the backbone of our democracy,” Lougee said. “That land is our land and that school [the charter school proposed for Village 2] should be our school. Charter schools promise smaller class sizes, but they have classes with over 30 students.” Dave Stark, vice president of the board, said he views the charter schools as part of D 49. “We have to hold them accountable,” he said. “The charter application is here a year ahead of time. D 49 can provide the expertise during construction to get the school we want. This board has just as much responsibility for charter schools as for D 49.”Dave Martin, president, said he would vote for charter schools today. “There are 600 kids at BLR whose parents chose to send them to a charter school,” he said. “The district doesn’t have the money to turn away brand new facilities. This is a facility that they [BLR] will build at no cost to the taxpayers. (However), I don’t believe they should be allowed to go around the system just because they are a charter school.”Randall Brungardt, treasurer, said he is undecided about charter schools. “We need to make sure the curriculum at a charter school fits with the district’s goals,” he said.The next board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the central administration building at 10850 E. Woodmen Road.

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