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"“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”"
– Stanley Horowitz  
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  Volume No. 18 Issue No. 10 October 2021  

None Business Briefs   None Community Calendar   None Community Photos   None Did You Know?  
None FFPD News   None From the Publisher   None Health and Wellness   None Marks Meanderings  
None Monkey Business   None News From D 49   None People on the Plains   None Pet Adoption Corner  
None Phun Photos   None Prairie Life   None Rumors   None Wildlife Matters  
Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In
  A Thank You note

   Falcon High School Football would like to thank the following donors for their contributions to a successful fundraiser: Antler Creek Golf, Bobbi Nielsen's Kicken Kitchen, Cinemark, Domino's, Great Wolf Lodge, Gualdalajara, Hills Christian Church, Legends Miniature Golf, Little Caesars, Mr. Guerry Vaughan, McDonalds, Omelets Etc. and Swirly Cow. 
   Pam Reinhard
   Falcon HS Football Parent Support Team
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  August BOE meeting wrap-up
  By Leslie Sheley

   All members of the El Paso County Colorado Board of Education were present at the regular meeting in August.
   Before the meeting, the BOE held their first “Fantastic 49” celebration for the 2021-22 school year. The following were honored: Natasha Onishchuk, student at Falcon Middle School, raised $900 for endangered animals at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Staff members were recognized for their work in implementing Modern Teacher Strategies in their classrooms, and they were also recognized at the national level: Aaron Lentner, third-grade teacher, Meridian Ranch Elementary; Melissa Ardolf, physical education teacher, Falcon Elementary School of Technology; Cori Owen, sixth-grade math teacher, Falcon Middle School; and KayLee Parson, former art teacher, Falcon Middle School. Jenna Bell, Multi-Tiered System of Supports Coordinator and Literacy Coach, Banning Lewis Ranch Academy, was awarded for her service during the past year despite many personal challenges and COVID-19 restrictions; Brian Smith, executive principal, Firebird Nation Campus, was awarded Change Management Principal of the Year; and Sue Holmes, Falcon Zone leader, was awarded Change Management District Leader of the Year.
   Rick Van Wieren, board secretary, said 12 people attended the BOE candidate information meeting; it could be the most contested board seat election in a decade.
   Ivy Liu, board director, visited several schools during the past year and has plans to visit more during the 2021-22 school year.
   Dave Cruson, treasurer, said the Falcon Education Foundation is planning an event for this year; they provide scholarships and awards to teachers and students. He also met with the student board of representatives.
   Kevin Butcher, vice president, said he is glad the students are back to in-person learning.
   John Graham, president, asked the community to be mindful of school bus safety; he encouraged patience as everyone gets back to new learning and to be mindful of students who lost family members to COVID-19.
   Chief officers’ updates
   Pedro Almeida, chief operations officer, said D 49 has adjusted the bus driver pay structure; they are still short 34 drivers.
   Brett Ridgeway, chief business officer, said the school still has 205 personnel vacancies. He said the district will be performing an audit in September; Skyward Co. has been hired to convert the business operating system to a new system. He will be attending the Legislative Interim Committee on school finance in two weeks.
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, congratulated Rocky Mountain Classical Academy for being awarded the national Outstanding Team Award for their Student 2 Student program (a group that supports students of military families).
   Hilts said D 49 will not require anyone to wear masks; it will be up to each individual and parent. If the governor declares an emergency, they will review the issue.
   Action items
   The BOE unanimously approved the following:
    • John Graham will attend the Colorado Association of School Boards Delegate Assembly. 
    • The chief business officer and the designated election official will execute the intergovernmental agreement between El Paso County Colorado School District 49 and the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder.
    • Approval of policy recommendations associated with the equal pay for equal work act as recommended by the administration
    • The approval of proposed revisions to policy the School Board Governance and Operations policy to reflect the current practice and move the open forum earlier on the agenda
   Discussion items
   Dr. Nancy Lemmond, executive director of Individualized Education, discussed two changes in policy. The wording, “religious and medical exemptions from immunizations” has been changed to “medical and non-medical exemptions.”
   Schools are allowed to store and administer medical marijuana on school property.
   Bruce Brown, facility project manager, discussed projects completed during the summer. This included new stage curtains at Falcon Middle School; a refurbished elevator and new air conditioning in the machine room at Sand Creek High School; several new flooring projects throughout the district; improved and newly built de-escalation rooms; repainted awnings at Falcon Elementary School; updates to room 203 at Stetson Elementary School for use as a preschool room; and a construction wall at Benet Ranch Elementary School to enable work on the addition while school is in session.
   Monica Deines-Henderson, director of nutrition services, said they are short 26 staff positions. During the 2020-21 school year, they served 101,506 breakfasts and 5,450,967 lunches at 26 sites. She said 21.36% of the students receive food supplement benefits; more than one out of every four students in the district is in a household with food insecurities.
   David Watson, director of safety and security, said they will continue to provide armed officers throughout the school district. Since March, they had more than 300 alerts through Securely and 250 alerts through Bark, both student monitoring programs. The alerts were serious enough to require staff to initiate contact with the family or student, Watson said. The Safe 2 Tell data included 77 mental health issues — 50 were suicide threats.
   Graham gave a report on the Colorado Association of School Boards.
   Ridgeway said a recent survey the district sent out found that 84% of participants supported a mill levy increase. The board moved a 6.4% mill levy increase proposal forward to the next meeting.
   The next monthly meeting of the BOE is Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs.
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  CRT in D 49 defeated
  By Leslie Sheley

   At their Aug. 12 meeting, the El Paso County Colorado School District 49 Board of Education passed a resolution banning Critical Race Theory from being taught in the district.
   All members of the board, chief education officers and the public were allowed time to speak before the vote.
   Deb Schmidt, grandmother of D 49 students, said, “The D 49 curriculum should not be steered by the narrative of a one-sided social justice movement. We support our grandchildren learning a complete history, which includes the ugliness of slavery in the south, the corrupt politicians who held that status quo in place and the heroes who fought against slavery and Jim Crow.”
   “We should be able to teach the facts of what happened in history,” said parent Jeff Brown. “This school district teaches what happened for instance in the holocaust, and if we have no issues talking about what the Germans did to the Jews, why do we have a problem teaching U.S. history. I’m D 49 proud; if people don’t want to learn the truth about history, let them move to another district.”
   “I’m not going to vote for this to pass because I believe I need to leave a footnote on this decision,” said Kevin Butcher, board vice president. “We as the board failed to follow our own policy; we were dismissive of a group that we formed (Leadership Advisory Council) to review these issues, and we undermined the process. If we expect everyone else to follow the rules that we make, we should have the dignity to follow them also.”
   Peter Hilts, chief education officer, said, “I am recommending the board approve this resolution. It was intentionally focused on the specific principles that violate our community’s standards and expectations. I think our kids are counting on us to be culturally respectful in our instruction, and one of the ways we can be culturally respectful is to try to understand their experiences and to listen carefully to them. I’m heartened tonight that we have heard strong community consensus to teach what I will call ‘raw’ history, but may we also teach ‘raw’ current events.”
   John Graham, president, called for a vote; Rick Van Wieren, secretary, motioned to pass the resolution, Dave Cruson, treasurer, seconded the motion.
    • Final resolution: motion carried
    • Yea: John Graham, Ivy Liu, Rick Van Wieren
    • Nay: Kevin Butcher, Dave Cruson
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  D 49 new school and campus expansion
  News release Aug. 20

   School District 49 has announced two new major construction projects will create new and needed learning space in the fastest growing school district in the state of Colorado. A new middle school and an addition to Bennett Ranch Elementary School, both designed and built by Colorado-based businesses, are preliminarily scheduled to welcome students in the fall of 2023.  
   MS23-226 — the project name for the new middle school — is planned for the Sand Creek Zone on Barnes Road, just east of Marksheffel Road. Nunn Construction will build the 130,000 square-foot middle school in a neighborhood currently in development by Nor’wood Homes. MS23-226 will serve 900 D 49 sixth-to-eighth-grade students.  
   Simultaneously, the Falcon Zone’s Firebird Nation Campus will make use of existing space when builder GH Phipps begins work on an addition to the existing Bennett Ranch Elementary School. The new wing will provide almost 54,000 square-feet of learning space for sixth-grade students, relieving pressure at nearby Falcon Middle School. 
   Both projects have a combined budget of $85 million. The projects are funded by the 2016 voter-approved 3B Mill Levy Override.
   Work on MS23-226 will begin in February 2022.
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