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El Paso County Colorado District 49

September Board of Education meeting wrap up

At the regular meeting of the Falcon School District 49 Board of Education in September, directors Chuck Irons and David Moore were absent with prior notice. The board met at the Creekside Success Center because of a sewer issue at the D 49 Education Services Center.Prior to the meeting, the district held a ìFantastic 49î event. Dustin Horras, principal of Horizon Middle School, presented a video walk-through of the recent improvements to the schoolís facilities and classrooms.John Newbill, PTA president at Woodmen Hills Elementary School, said the school was recognized as the 2015-2017 National PTA School of Excellence, chosen as one of 124 from across the country for developing strong family school partnerships.Board updateKevin Butcher, board treasurer, publicly thanked Marie LaVere-Wright, board secretary, for committing to serve another four years on the BOE. LaVere-Wright and John Graham were the only two people to turn in their candidacy packets; and, because there is enough space on the board for both, they are considered directors-elect. Their names will still appear on the ballot in November.Open forumJennie Stormes, D 49 parent, said she came to the BOE meeting in May because her student was suspended for having cannabis in his lunch. Her son has severe physical and mental disabilities, and she was the one who mistakenly packed cannabis in his lunch, not her son, she said. Stormes said the board agreed to form a committee to discuss situations like this and determine how to deal with them, but she had not heard from anyone.ìYou asked for my input, but at this date no one has contacted me,î Stormes said.LaVere-Wright said the board has submitted a resolution to the Colorado Association of School Boards that would exempt non-psychoactive cannabid oils from the drug-free policy of school properties. ìWe are essentially asking the federal government to allow us to exempt those non-psychoactive cannabid oils so that we donít lose funding from there for programs like special education,î she said. ìWe are following our legal counselís advice, which is not to act on creating any policy at this point.îBrad Miller, the boardís attorney, advised Stormes and the board that the conversation needed to continue outside of a public forum.Becky Johnson, an English teacher at Sand Creek High School, read a letter in support of Bill Strauss, a fellow English teacher, who was under consideration for termination. See ìExecutive sessionî for more information.Action itemsThe board unanimously approved all the action items on the agenda:

  • A resolution declaring Sept. 17, 2015, as Constitution Day
  • A proposed wage restructure plan for school bus drivers and bus paraprofessionals that creates a higher starting wage and a higher wage structure overall, retroactively effective Sept. 1, 2015
  • A resolution about refinancing the districtís outstanding bonds that would shorten the repayment term by two years and save the district over $1.1 million
  • A designation of the complex that houses the Patriot Learning Center outdoor facilities and Falcon Elementary School as the Falcon Legacy Campus
  • Revisions to existing job descriptions for the executive assistants to the chief officers to reflect their current responsibilities
  • Redefinition of the existing instructional technology assistant position to instructional technology analyst to reflect the additional duties that position requires
  • Redefinition of the co-manager positions at the Falcon Homeschool Enrichment Program to principal and instructional coach
  • Colorado Association of School Boards recommended revisions to policies related to the following: fund from local tax sources; loan programs; compliance with the Affordable Care Act; professional research and publishing; grading / assessment systems; admission and denial of admission; and education alternatives for expelled students
  • District-recommended revisions to policies regarding the following: nondiscrimination / equal opportunity; school board policy process; and stakeholder grievance
The board agreed to table the action item that would approve Butcherís wife as the volleyball coach at Horizon Middle School. Miller said it would be best to wait until there were more voting members of the board present, since Butcher would have to recuse himself from the vote.Discussion itemsAndy Franko, iConnect zone leader, gave the charter school annual performance report. ìWe have had great performance increases in most of the charter schools across the board,î he said. ìIf there was one area of improvement I had to choose, I would say social studies.îFranko said the October 2014 student count showed that 28 percent of the students in the district were enrolled in charter schools.Ron Sprinz, D 49 budget manager, presented the preliminary enrollment update, which indicated that enrollment in the Sand Creek zone was still increasing, as was enrollment in the POWER zone, but not as much as the district had hoped. The districtís program formula funding is largely based on the student count in October, which affects how the district adopts and amends its budget, he said.Because there is a shortfall from the anticipated enrollment number, Sprinz said the finance department will determine how to proceed as they get closer to the October count date.The chief officers jointly presented the performance excellence report and application information to the board. Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said that a team of psychologists will be at the district in November and will read through the self-evaluations of the district administration and interview whomever they choose. The ultimate goal is to help the administrators set improvement priorities for the next year, he said.Ridgway said this performance review was sought out voluntarily by the district, to be conducted by an outside entity.Executive sessionThe board entered into executive session to confer with their attorney and receive legal advice pertaining to the dismissal of Strauss. When they re-entered the public session, the directors unanimously voted to dismiss Strauss, citing negligence of his duties and insubordination.The next regular meeting of the BOE is Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room of the D 49 Education Services Center.

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