Volume No. 18 Issue No. 9 September 2021  



  August BOE meeting wrap-up
  

     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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