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The Board of Education held a regular meeting Thursday, April 10, at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the Education Service Center. The REVISED agenda and packet, audio file 1, audio file 2, audio file 3, audio file 4 and audio file 5 are available for download.
At 6 p.m., prior to the regular board meeting, District 49's BOE Directors hosted a "Fantastic 49" spotlight, which featured outstanding students and educators.
The Board of Education held a work session Wednesday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the Education Service Center. The agenda and REVISED packet, audio file 1, audio file 2, audio file 3 and audio file 4 are available for download.
Director contact information is available from BOE page.
The District 49 Board of Education directors want to hear from their community. Ahead of each meeting's action items, up to 10 members of the public are afforded a three-minute opportunity to address the directors about issues of concern or praise. When appropriate, they'll respond following each presentation. In the interest of productivity for the proceedings, no charges or complaints against individuals are allowed. Defamatory or abusive remarks, including profanity, are not tolerated. The open forum is always considered an important part of each board meeting.
Knar, 10, was diagnosed at age 4 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and entered remission in 2008. In November 2013, the Knar family learned that the leukemia had returned, and is now isolated in his bone marrow.
In an outreach of support, Falcon Virtual Academy hosted a bone marrow donor drive in January, and will be hosting another Saturday, April 19, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at 6113 Constitution Ave., directly west of Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado.
“We wanted to reach out to the family again,” said Jodi Fletcher, assistant principal.
Fletcher explained that more than 250 people participated in the January drive, and she hopes to have similar numbers April 19.
The money from a bake sale at the drive, and a portion of the proceeds raised from a spring formal dance, will be donated to the Knar family.
“My kids are relentless - the high school students want a cause,” said Fletcher, explaining the students’ persistence in helping Knar. The student council is hoping to use some donations to help fix their schoolmates’ favorite recliner.
Aden has gone through intensive chemotherapy, which eradicated 99.5 percent of the cancer in his bone marrow, but he is unable to reach complete remission. The remaining .05 percent is life threatening.
Doctors have recommended a bone marrow transplant take place as soon as possible, as additional chemotherapy will not be a cure. Currently there is no match for Aden in the worldwide registry, and without one, his chance of survival could be less than 20 percent.
“It’s not only good for our school and community, but it saves people’s lives,” said Fletcher. ”That’s the way our school works. When someone is in need, we want to do whatever we can to help them.”
Those wishing to be tested must be between 18-44 years old.
Visit bethematch.org for more information on screening and bone marrow donation.
As District 49 enters its second round of discussions prior to the November elections, the focus is on customizing the ballot proposal for each zone and school. District, zone and school leaders are scheduled to attend. They'll listen and answer questions. Each meeting will be largely led by contributions from community members.
"We hope to see true conversation," said Peter Hilts, chief education officer, in a message to staff members. "Not just a presentation with 'Q and A,' but a community conversation that clarifies points of agreement, as well as remaining questions and objections to the proposal."
"These are not exclusive or private," said Hilts, addressing community members. "So please invite friends and neighbors—especially if they don’t have children in the district, because we crave input from our larger community. Also, these are not highly structured meetings, so please feel free to arrive and leave anytime that works in your schedule."
The district's capital planning committee, and then the Board of Education, will revise the school finance plan at the end of April. The town hall meetings are an important opportunity for them to learn about the support and reservations in the district's communities.
Scheduled town hall meetings
The directors approved a resolution to oppose multi-year contracts, continued discussions about developing a charter rubric, and announced Teacher Appreciation Week. They also approved a calendar update for Springs Ranch Elementary School.
“This board has not done any multi-year contracts in three years,” said Tammy Harold, BOE president, declaring the current board’s refusal to offer such contracts in the future. “We want to officially make that statement to our community.”
During discussions about the vote on charter school waivers and a resolution, which would affect Valiant Academy’s opening date, the board directed Kim McClelland, iConnect Zone leader, to put together a readiness rubric for approval at the May board meeting.
The opening of Valiant Academy, a project-based learning charter school, is delayed until the 2015-2016 school year, due to concerns with facility and enrollment needs, which will be formally identified in the upcoming rubric and evaluated by the directors in January.
The BOE directors approved a resolution to proclaim May 5-9 as Teacher Appreciation Week.
They approved a revised calendar at Springs Ranch Elementary School. The change revises May 9, a professional development day, into an assessment day.
Peter Hilts, chief education officer, reviewed the results of this year’s Big Rocks Survey during discussion items. The district compiled an extensive list of feedback to improve the survey for the next school year.
Hilts also discussed upcoming town hall meetings about the district’s capital improvement plan. The feedback collected at these meetings will be used at the next capital planning committee meeting, April 22. The committee will then present at the board work session April 23.
Ahead of their meeting, District 49's BOE directors highlighted outstanding educators and students during a "Fantastic 49" event. The board recognized state PTA Reflections winners, two students, followed by Sason Sharify award winner Jay Peltier, track coach and business teacher at Vista Ridge High School.
Meister is scheduled to leave ABC affiliate KRDO-TV to pursue a career in school communications. He'll begin working with the district's communications team in April, according to Peter Hilts, chief education officer.
After his final broadcast with KRDO NewsChannel 13 on May 23, Meister will take on the role as district spokesperson.
"We're looking forward to Matt becoming our director of communications," said Hilts, ahead of a Board of Education work session March 19, when Meister introduced himself to the board directors and attending educators.
"Matt brings a long-standing commitment to the schools of El Paso County," said Hilts. "Under his leadership, our communications team will continue to improve how we engage our community and its stakeholders, as a trustworthy recipient of taxpayer investment."
The public information officer position was retitled this year as communications director, which conforms with other senior leadership roles in the district.
Ahead of their meeting, District 49's BOE directors highlighted outstanding educators and students during a "Fantastic 49" event. Horizon Middle School’s Brain Bowl Team 6, the district's first Brain Bowl team to medal in state competitions, competed against the directors in oral quizzes.
The board members heard from educators leading the Sand Creek Model Classroom Project. The professional development tool asks teachers to open their classrooms to other teachers for collaboration about best classroom instructional practices.
The directors approved a new course for the Health Science Academy at Falcon High School. Health and Wellness Through LIfespan, designed for 11th and 12th graders, will teach ways to think independently about developing healthy habits as aspiring healthcare providers.
Vista Ridge High School received approval for courses in medical intervention, or studying disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment, as well as biological engineering, which is aligned with interests in emerging healthcare careers. The school was also approved for a new computer science and software engineering course.
The board approved a proposal to align board policies with Senate Bill 10-191, which involves educator evaluations.
The directors approved a calendar change that transitioned May 9, originally a professional development day, into a regular school day at Sand Creek High School. It reclaims contact hours lost to recent delays and closures caused by inclement weather concerns.
During discussion items, Jack Bay, chief operations officer, reviewed overall operational needs from a capital planning perspective. Bay explained his recent tours with building principals. He said increasing energy efficiency must be a top priority across the district.
Dave Watson, district safety and emergency coordinator, discussed security-related priorities. He explained ways to add new layers, describing structural and entry point changes.
“We’re looking at trying to improve our communications,” said Watson, asking for upgrades in radio systems and intercoms.
Community members shared concerns about the athletic field at Falcon High School, urging the directors to find a way to fund a new synthetic surface as soon as possible.
“This doesn’t just impact the football community – it affects the entire school,” said Darryl Murphy, suggesting the project couldn’t wait for a bond campaign, supports several sports and increases school pride.
After hearing the cost was less than an earlier estimate, Tammy Harold, BOE president, agreed to discuss other funding options for the field.
As the school finance discussions continued, Harold called for a resolution to formally end multi-year contracts, and any related buyouts, in District 49.
The grants, totaling $400,000, awarded to Academy School District 20, Colorado Springs School District 11, Falcon School District 49 and Harrison School District 2 are a part of Kaiser Permanente’s increased focus on school health known as the Thriving Schools Initiative.
Launched nationally by Kaiser Permanente in February 2013, Thriving Schools engages school communities to champion change by incorporating evidence-based, community health improvement practices.
The four Colorado Springs districts are among 21 school districts in Colorado that have been awarded grants from the Thriving Schools Initiative. To qualify for funding, each school district was asked to submit an application online and provide a detailed strategy for getting staff and students active before, during, and after school hours.
District 49, covering urban and rural areas in northeast Colorado Springs and unincorporated areas of El Paso County, selected three schools for health and wellness projects: Odyssey Elementary School, Evans International Elementary School and Falcon Elementary School of Technology.
"We're always looking for ways to improve the health and wellness of our students, so they're better prepared to learn -- and our staff, so they're better prepared to teach." said Duerr, who's currently collaborating on a project with Melissa Ardolf physical education teacher at Falcon Elementary School of Technology in Peyton.
Using a portion of the grant, they're planning to open a disc golf course by summer break. The elementary school's nine-hole course will offer a new venue for physical education, as well as open doors to activities that integrate several subjects, according to Duerr. District 49 is still in a planning phase but expects to identify more health and wellness projects soon.
“The link between healthy students, reduced absenteeism and stronger academic performance is well documented. Thriving Schools offers us a unique and targeted campaign to work collaboratively with Colorado schools to advance health and improve academic performance,” said Donna Lynne, DrPH, president of Kaiser Permanente Colorado. “In addition, healthier schools cultivate a stronger Colorado workforce for the future.”
Research continues to demonstrate the link between academic achievement and physical activity. Children who are physically active have higher test scores and improved attention in class, decreased absenteeism and improved behavior, decreased stress and improved mood. Also, evidence suggests that healthier students are better learners and physical activity can improve student academic achievement.
Learn more about Thriving Schools at thrivingschools.kaiserpermanente.org or @thrivingschools on Twitter. Visit www.kp.org/communitybenefit to learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s community benefit programs.
Valiant Academy will open for the 2014-2015 school year in District 49. Modeled after High Tech High charter schools, it presents a unique educational and operational approach to project-based learning. More information is available at valiantacademy.org.
The academy will open in Colorado Springs for kindergarten through seventh graders during the 2014-2015 school year, according to Kim McClelland, District 49 iConnect Zone innovation leader. It’s scheduled to add a grade level with each subsequent school year.
“I look forward to working with that group of kids that are (focusing on) project-based learning, and helping that niche of our student population,” said Tammy Harold, BOE president, after the directors approved the academy’s addition to District 49’s portfolio of schools.
Ahead of the meeting, District 49's BOE directors hosted their first "Fantastic 49" event, which will continue to highlight outstanding educators and students. They recognized Nicole Sinnott, a fifth grade teacher at Evans International Elementary School, for earning a National Board Certification, considered an effective indicator of teacher quality. Sinnott is certified in early adolescence science.
The board members heard from students involved in the Sand Creek High School InvenTeam. The innovation team gave a presentation about their use of a $9,900 grant from the Lemelson-MIT program. Twenty-two students are working to improve a bio-sand mechanical filter for water sanitation. They’ll present their prototype in June during EurekaFest at MIT in Cambridge, Mass.
During the meeting, the directors approved a resolution to support the capital planning committee, titled “Our Plan to Bring Out the Best in District 49.” The resolution instructs the committee, along with district and community leaders, to proceed with a public input phase of a capital planning campaign. The phase is meant to refine the plan and its presentation, so that the board can submit an optimized ballot question for voter approval in November.
“We need as much public input as we can get,” said David Moore, BOE vice president.
The directors also approved a policy that allows electronic participation in board meetings.
During discussion items, Ron Goad, co-chair of the Special Education Advisory Committee, explained that keyboarding skills are becoming exceedingly important with technological advances, including an upcoming increase in electronic assessments. Insufficient keyboarding skills can negatively impact a student’s performance and test scores, said Goad.
“I really appreciate SEAC having this (keyboarding) on their radar,” said Peter Hilts, chief education officer. Hilts joined board directors in tasking administrators to perform an analysis on the issue in each zone to generate informed recommendations.
The board members also discussed their developing cultural contract, which will explain their values and conduct standards. The contract will be discussed further in a future work session.
For videos of regular and special meetings, along with work sessions, visit vimeo.com/district49.
“I feel honored and privileged to serve and represent Falcon School District 49 and the online and blended learning community,” said Kim McClelland, District 49 iConnect Zone leader and and Colorado Digital Board of Cooperative Educational Services executive director.
“This is established to work toward improving the quality of education for all students in Colorado who use online learning as a part or all of the access to learning."
McClelland is one of seven educators from across the state selected to serve on the Colorado Online Education Task Force, created by Sen. Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood), Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango), Rep. Dave Young (D-Greeley) and Rep. Jim Wilson (R-Salida).
Technology and demographics have changed dramatically since the legislature last addressed online education policy seven years ago. Due to the high number of at-risk students in online programs, statistics show that full-time online students consistently performed below their non-online peers in reading and math assessments and that graduation rates for full-time online schools are significantly lower than the statewide rate.
The task force will provide policy proposals as well as legislative recommendations by March 21 to the Senate and House Education committees.
"In the past, we have had rooms set up representing different countries, and we also embraced different holiday traditions from around the world," says Linda Hagedorn, English Language Development teacher at Springs Ranch Elementary School.
The district’s Special Education Advisory Committee, made of up parents, staff members and administrators, developed the event to meet the needs of families looking for specific educational resources and supports.
More than a dozen informational booths will provide information on a variety of topics, from early childhood development to dyslexia to autism. The Resource Exchange, Peak Parent and Assistive Technology are a few of the organizations that will represent resources outside the district.
Peter Hilts, chief education officer, will serve as keynote speaker. He will share his experience with special education and explain his vision for what individualized learning looks like. Hilts will also offer insight on how parents can use the resources they learn about at the expo.
The expo is not limited to families of children who may have special needs, but is open to all parents who want to learn more about the resources and how they may be useful to their child’s educational experience.
Diane Neff¹s fourth grade class, along with other fourth grade classes at Odyssey Elementary School, will use an iPad and a GoToMeeting app to communicate with the Challenger Learning Center. Each student will have a unique job function, such as communications officer or navigation and transmission specialist, on the mission to rescue the lost ship.
"In fourth grade, space is one of our science standards, so this whole mission goes right along with them," said Neff.
In an outreach of support, Falcon Virtual Academy will be hosting a bone marrow donor drive Jan. 23 from 2:30- 6:30 p.m. at 6113 Constitution Avenue, directly west of Care and Share.
“We're that school that says ‘why can’t we?’ instead of ‘we can’t,’” she said.
Aden has gone through intensive chemotherapy, which eradicated 99 percent of the cancer in his bone marrow, but he is unable to reach complete remission, with the .05 percent remaining being very dangerous.
Community members who are interested in a donor compatibility test must be between 18-44 years old.
Of the districts with more than 100 students, Falcon School District 49 is experiencing the state's largest number of student gains and largest percentage increase. During the 2013-2014 school year, educators in District 49 will reach nearly 19,000 students, now as part of Colorado's 14th largest school district. The district gained 3,402 students, representing a 22-percent increase from 2012-2013.
In the Colorado Springs area, well over 90 percent of annual growth is occurring in District 49. According to county records, there are more than 20,000 lots in the inventory of the school district's boundaries, which could double the current pupil count.
Denver Public Schools has the second largest number of student gains, adding 2,666 students, a 3.2-percent increase.
The statewide change represents an increase of 1.6 percent, slightly higher than the growth rate in the 2012-2013 school year, which was 1.1 percent. In 2008-2009, Colorado public school enrollment surged 2 percent, the largest statewide increase in the past 10 years.
The 15 largest districts in Colorado, represent 68 percent of the total statewide enrollment, include: Denver Public Schools, which educates 86,043 students; Jefferson County Public Schools, 85,983; Douglas County School District, 66,230; Cherry Creek School District 5, 54,226; Adams 12 Five Star Schools, 42,230; Aurora Public Schools, 40,877; Boulder Valley School District, 30,546; St. Vrain Valley School District, 30,195; Poudre School District, 28,439; Colorado Springs School District 11, 28,404; Academy School District 20, 24,481; Mesa County Valley School District 51, 21,894; Greeley-Evans School District 6, 20,450; Falcon School District 49, 18,880; and Pueblo City School District 60, 17,990.
Two teams from Falcon High School and one from Vista Ridge High School earned the opportunity to compete in the online semifinals Jan. 17-19, as part of 50 teams from across the United States, representing 22 high schools.
CyberPatriot is the largest U.S. high school defense competition, providing hands-on exposure to the foundations of cyber security, according to Thomas Russell, information technology teacher at Falcon High School. More than 900 teams competed this school year.
“I think no other district in Colorado has made such an impact of teaching cyber and information security fundamentals,” says Russell, who coaches the CyberPatriot teams from Falcon High School.
The CyberPatriot programs are growing at Vista Ridge High School and Falcon High School. It’s the second year of competitions for Falcon High School, where the program has expanded from one to eight teams, and the first year the school sent two teams to the semifinals.
During the semifinals, the top 50 teams compete for six hours straight, covering network security, digital forensics and networking. The top 12 remaining teams will advance to the finals in Washington D.C.
The plans identify key areas of improvement at the school and district levels, mapping out strategies to address those areas. The directors first reviewed the plans at their December meeting. UIPs guide time, resources and support to advance student achievement and growth. The plans will now be submitted to the Colorado Department of Education.
Preschool is offered in all nine of the district’s elementary schools. Curriculum is linked to the Colorado Academic Standards, and is research-based and individualized to student needs. A list of required registration documents is available from the D49.org Preschool Information page.
8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Remington Elementary School in Colorado Springs
The Falcon Education Foundation is making those projects possible, along with many others, in Falcon School District 49.
The Falcon Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization that raises funds to support unique educational opportunities beyond regular budget limits. It will award 22 grants, totaling more than $17,000 in funding, for projects that are inspirational, innovative and creative.
“We invite educators to think outside the box, to get students excited about learning,” said Marion Meyer, Falcon Education Foundation president. “We had a lot of outstanding grant applications and it’s an honor to provide the funds to make these projects happen in the classroom.”
The foundation will award grant winners during the District 49 Board of Education meeting Nov. 14, at 6:30 p.m., in the board room at 10850 E. Woodmen Road in Peyton.
The following 19 teachers, administrators and support staff were awarded Falcon Education Foundation grants to provide 22 unique projects this school year:
- Katie Poulsen, Evans International Elementary School: $855 for Operation Energy
- Brooke Austermiller, Ridgeview Elementary School: $905 for We Like to Move It, Move It
- Brian Hepperle, Springs Ranch Elementary School: $200 for Mirroring and Wireless Displays
- Laurie Hildebrand, Stetson Elementary School: $528 for Apple of my iPad
- Erin McGovern, Stetson Elementary School: $756 for Math Matters; $1,000 for Bringing Literacy to Life
- Matt Monfre, Stetson Elementary School: $766 for Zoom Zoom Healthy Highway
- Tim Scheck, Falcon Middle School: $660 for Printing the Future
- Dana Orton, Falcon Middle School: $996 for Glass Fusing and Slumping
- Shari Arnot, Falcon Middle School: $937 for Kindle Firebird Love of Reading
- Rachel Connell, Horizon Middle School: $1,000 for Latin Dance Club
- Pamela Holloman, Skyview Middle School: $479 for Noise No More
- Thomas Russell, Falcon High School: $740 for Student Engagement and Mentoring in Technology Program
- Josh Wixom, Falcon Virtual Academy: $1,000 for Marine Aquarium
- Lori Hall, Falcon Virtual Academy: $910 for Junior Gemologists
- Paul Austin, Patriot Learning Center: $1,150 for Sewing with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math; $945 for Wooden Robot Arm; $700 for Losing Your Marbles
- Ray Bell, Sand Creek High School: $1,000 for Artist in Residence, Orchestra
- Brandon Ager, Vista Ridge High School: $315 for VR Mural Club
- Deanna Waldron, Rocky Mountain Classical Academy: $815 for Knights of the Water Table
- Gene Hammond, District 49 transportation department: $990 for Painting with Purpose
For six years, Patriot Learning Center’s middle school students have cooked a turkey feast as a learners’ community service project ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
During their 6th annual event, roughly 60 students will welcome participants for the Falcon Fire Department and Falcon Senior Services, a nonprofit organization supporting Falcon area residents aged 60 and over.
Dozens of area senior citizens will be paired with a student. They’ll gather around tables to get to know each other, while enjoying the meal and conversations.
“There are a lot of seniors who don’t have family here,” said math teacher Jenny Olson, who’s coordinating the event, “so this is an important holiday tradition for them. They love coming together with our kids.”
“A lot of our kids don’t have grandparents close by, so that’s an added benefit for them,” said Olson, one of several teachers volunteering to help cook the 10 turkeys and two hams. The school’s culinary arts teacher is showing a class how to cook a couple of the turkeys, too.
Patriot Learning Center received the turkeys as donations by local businesses. The students' parents are preparing the usual side dishes.
“For many of our kids, by far, this is their favorite day of the year,” said Olson.
The feast starts at 11:30 a.m. in the school’s gymnasium.
Jack Bay, chief operations officer, will discuss a proposed district energy resource management plan to intentionally coordinate energy use. The plan considers environmental and economic objectives to optimize efficiency while meeting district needs.
Falcon School District 49's Board of Education had three director positions on the Nov. 5 election ballot in El Paso County. Six candidates ran for the three director positions: John Graham, David H. Moore, Kevin Butcher, Chris Bombria, Henry Allen Jr. and Tammy Harold.
District 49 leaders extend a sincere thanks to all candidates who ran, all who campaigned in support of a candidate and all 9,500 individuals who voted in the 2013 Board of Education director race. According to the final unofficial results, Harold, Butcher and Moore secured seats on the school board, joining Marie LaVere-Wright and Chuck Irons.
“We look forward to swearing in our directors and collaborating with the new board as we support every student in District 49,” said Peter Hilts, chief education officer. The district also extends thanks to departing board members Chris Wright and Henry Allen for their service to the students of District 49.
The statewide defeat of Amendment 66 will start a new round of discussions about education funding and equity. District 49 leaders are eager to contribute to that conversation, emphasizing fairness, local control and efficient stewardship.
“We commit to stable leadership from our board and administration, so District 49 can continue to grow with our community,” said Hilts.
Pending county verification of election results, new directors will be sworn in prior to the board work session on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 10850 E. Woodmen Road in Peyton. Additional details will be posted soon at d49.org.
Springs Ranch Elementary School, located at 4350 Centerville Drive in Colorado Springs, will host the fifth grade musical “American Voices” at 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Meridian Ranch Elementary School, located at 10480 Rainbow Bridge Drive in Peyton, will host an all-school assembly at 8:45 a.m., including a performance from the choir and guest speakers.
Falcon Elementary School, located at 12050 Falcon Highway in Peyton, has invited students and parents to submit photos to be displayed on the Our Heroes Wall on Nov. 11. Additionally, students were asked to submit names of family members currently serving in the military and cards written by students will be sent to those family members. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, Falcon Elementary School will host the annual Heroes Breakfast from 7:50-8:30 a.m. Students and their families will have the opportunity to eat breakfast with active military members of the community.
Remington Elementary School, located at 2825 Pony Tracks Drive in Colorado Springs, is hosting a Veterans appreciation luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 7. Retired and active duty military members have been invited to join students for lunch, wearing their military uniform or fatigues. Lunch schedules range from 10:50 a.m.- 1:05 p.m.
Skyview Middle School, located at 6350 Windom Peak Boulevard in Colorado Springs, will hold three Veterans Day concerts featuring actors, eighth grade band and seventh and eighth grade choirs. The eighth grade concert will begin at 8:15 a.m., seventh grade concert will begin at 10:15 a.m. and the sixth grade concert will begin at 1:15 p.m.
Falcon Middle School, located at 9755 Towner Avenue in Peyton, has invited veterans and active duty military to visit classrooms throughout the school day. An all-school assembly will be held at 2:20 p.m. to recognize veterans, including Falcon Middle School staff members who have served. The Falcon High School JROTC will present the colors and the band and choir will perform.
Falcon High School, located at 10255 Lambert Road in Peyton, will have an all-school assembly to honor veterans including Falcon High School staff who have served. Students are writing tribute cards, which will be sent to the American Legion for distribution to veterans around the area.
Falcon Virtual Academy, located at 6113 Constitution Avenue in Colorado Springs, will host a Saluting America presentation from 4-6 p.m., which will include a tribute contest, service project and other special events students completed as part of the Veterans Day celebration. Specific program details are at http://rswea6.wix.com/salute.
“Our students will be working with experts in the field of crime scene investigation to learn the fundamentals of solving crimes and take the science of detective work to a whole new level,” said Brian Smith, principal at Falcon Middle School in Falcon School District 49.
During morning activities, they’ll dust for fingerprints, examine a crime scene and study paper chromatography, as they gain first-hand knowledge into STEM careers. After lunch, they’ll listen to a forensic science presentation, learn about facial recognition and then hold a scavenger hunt.
Students will take home a bag of CSI tools, including a workbook, calculator and invisible ink pen. Participating teachers will receive the curriculum for the day’s activities, mapped to local education standards, as well as a fingerprint scanner.
Prior to the camp, the school’s educators will receive training with the Colorado Springs Police Department and the Fort Carson K-9 unit, Nov. 5, 3:30-6:30 p.m.
“We are so excited that Falcon Middle School was selected as one of the only middle schools in Colorado to offer this program,” said Smith.
Crime Scene Investigation Camp-for-a-Day
A collaboration with Peak Vista Community Health Centers to launch the Falcon Peak school-based health center at Falcon Elementary School, community partnerships with Care and Share Food bank and Fuel Up to Play 60, and a dietician intern partnership with Penrose-St. Francis Hospital exemplified how district programming is already supporting school wellness, with prioritization on expanding implementation, according to grantor RMC Health.
The award will fund a new project, Healthy Schools, Successful Students, which will be administered by RMC Health, a non-profit professional development organization with an expertise in school health. It is an expansion of a grant-funded project that District 49 began four years ago.
The RMC Health grant enables the district to expand its wellness policy and adopt The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s coordinated school health model district-wide by supporting the new district-level health and wellness coordinator, Rachel Duerr.
The model focuses on counseling, nutrition services, health services, health education, physical education, safe school environments, community involvement, staff health promotion and psychological and social services.
The four primary goals for Coordinated School Health are to increase health knowledge, attitudes and skills; increase positive health behaviors and health outcomes; improve education outcomes since students who are healthy are more likely to learn than those who are unhealthy; and to improve social outcomes as school health programs can help students contribute positively to their family, school and community.
The 25-student team from Falcon School District 49 is the first-ever from Colorado to receive a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam award, according to Leigh Estabrooks, invention education officer for the Lemelson-MIT program.
A panel of judges composed of educators, researchers, staff and alumni from MIT, as well as industry representatives and former Lemelson-MIT award winners, assembled this fall and selected Sand Creek High School as one of this year’s InvenTeam grantees.
The team’s bio-sand filters are made of layers of sand and gravel with different coarseness that allow water to pass through, while capturing parasites and bacteria in the process. After water is passed through the filter, it is 98 percent clean.
“I feel optimistic that the students are seeing issues affecting others around them, and responding quickly with original and useful ideas to technically solve problems,” she said.
The survey is voluntary for middle and high school students, elementary school students in grades 3-12, and parents. A Spanish translation is available for parents. Students will have opportunities on campus to complete the survey. Parents are encouraged to talk with their students about a survey’s importance.
Community participation is critical in helping district leaders learn more about each school's culture and climate. The results will inform decision making, as District 49 advances its Big Rock, or strategic initiative, of being the best district to learn, work and lead.
- District Climate Survey for Middle and High School Students
- District Climate Survey for Elementary School Students Grades 3-5
- District Climate Survey for Parents
- District Climate Survey for Parents in Spanish
The proposal was approved for the district to employ Pikes Peak Regional Building for construction permits and inspections, with exception of electrical and plumbing permits and inspections, as prepared by Jack Bay, chief operations officer.
Over the next three to five years, the district will strive to build trust with stakeholders, engage the community, create an environment that is the best in which to learn, work and lead, develop a robust portfolio of exceptional schools, and individualize education to launch every student into success.
District 49 continues growth in student population, and remains the fastest growing school district in the region. Brett Ridgway, chief business officer, provided student count information to board directors as part of planning for the district’s amended budget; student enrollment impacts Colorado school districts’ program funding.
Preliminary enrollment numbers show an increase of 300 students as compared to the previous school year; the official student count for schools statewide takes place in October. District 49 has been one of the fastest growing in the state over the past decade.
An opportunity to refinance district bonds saved the district $170,000 and did not extend the term of repayment on district bonds.
The directors took action to set board meeting dates for 2014 and approved a memorandum of understanding with the American Red Cross, providing facilities and resources in times of emergency.
The board members approved a resolution marking Constitution Day, Sept. 17, in support of better understanding the nation’s history and culture. They also approved community members to serve on the District Accountability Advisory Committee, and revisions to student conduct policies.
The directors approved a process of review for chief officers, setting priorities for effective supervision and evaluation of the chief education officer, chief business officer and chief operations officer positions.
The directors received information on the upcoming Educating Children of Color Summit, which addresses the challenges of children of color and children in poverty through education. The summit is free to students and will be held Jan. 11 at Colorado College. The directors expressed a desire to support the event and its purpose.
Ridgway presented an update on the Colorado Digital Board of Cooperative Services, formed as a partnership to proactively lead online education practices. To efficiently combine resources, the CDBOCES program will add a science, technology, engineering and math component, to help to advance district and state STEM education initiatives.
The district will partner with Colorado Springs School District 11 in the development of the STEM component of the BOCES, in order to enable collaboration and extend the reach of the program.
Amber Whetstine, school improvement coordinator, shared district, zone, school and grade level Transitional Colorado Assessment Program data, highlighting achievements and opportunities for growth. Key highlights included the highest percentage of fourth grade students scoring proficient and advanced in reading in the past six years, and the highest proficient and advanced scores in eight grade writing and science.
Areas for improvement, including special education achievement gaps and gaps in math for African American and Hispanic students, will be incorporated into schools’ unified improvement plans later this year.
The board directors discussed revisions to policies related to extracurricular activity eligibility and to guest users on the district wireless network. Both will be addressed as action items at an upcoming meeting.
Falcon Virtual Academy was praised for having a “very creative design solution on a limited budget that managed to provide stimulating spaces that are defined, yet open and free-flowing. Fun place to learn with bold colors.”
The school has received seven regional and national design awards to date.
Find more information in American School and University magazine.
Acknowledged for her contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in the Pikes Peak region, Dolifka was awarded a $500 scholarship to continue STEM projects.
The newly launched Wolf Pack Theater Company website provides information for students, parents and the broader community about activities and upcoming productions.
The zone earned a $2,500 grant from the Kinder Morgan Foundation for the Strings For All program, which funded the purchase of string instruments for the zone. Purchased instruments will be provided to students who want to learn, but financially unable to rent our purchase one. Four violins, a cello and a string bass have already been purchased with the grant funds.
The strings program is a viable feeder program for Sand Creek High School, as it completes the existing fine arts curriculum in the zone. Sean Dorsey, Sand Creek innovation leader, and Ray Bell, Sand Creek High School band director, implemented the program as part of the zone’s focus on providing educational options for students.
Cathy Camp-Davidson, string orchestra teacher, performs regularly as an alternate bassist with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. She brings her experience as a freelance musician to her students.
Camp-Davidson performs with her own string quartet and Irish duo on the bass, cello, and violin. She also has deep roots in Colorado Springs and her father was one of the original musicians in the Flying W Wranglers. Contact her to learn more about the program.
Rush, the national spokesperson for the bullying prevention organization Hey Unique Gifted Loveable You, will congratulate them at 10:45 a.m. She routinely visits schools across the country on behalf of Hey UGLY, working to build emotional awareness and self-love in children.
Warren also cites a positive educational learning climate, aligning grade-level goals, common assessments and interventions, and ongoing professional development for educators as keys to the students’ success.
District 49’s inspection and surveillance results are available in the management plan at each facility’s administrative office. These may be viewed any time during normal school hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. Contact Zack Gibson in the facilities department with any questions about asbestos: 719.494.8986.
The Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Department of Health require a re-inspection of asbestos material every three years to re-assess its condition. Accredited asbestos inspectors in District 49 performed the re-inspection in December 2012, and no change was noted as to the status of concerns.
In addition, the EPA and CDH require a visual survey of all known asbestos materials every six months to determine and document any change in the condition of asbestos materials. No significant changes in conditions were noted during a surveillance of District 49 buildings in spring 2013. All materials are in satisfactory condition.
These are just a few examples where District 49 students and educators are using technology to advance 21st century skills in the classroom.
On Aug. 17, musical artists from around the United States will join voices in Colorado Springs, where they'll confront bullying and promote compassion. The Stand Up. Speak Out. anti-bullying concert in Falcon School District 49 presents a venue for thousands of people to stand up and speak out against aggressive and harassing behaviors in schools. Vertical Horizon will headline the evening event, preceded by The BottomLine, Brian Jarvis, Devyn Rush, Taylor Watson and Brendan James. The band SRO volunteered from New York to arrive and perform as doors open. To support this enormous community effort, purchase your tickets today at the Security Service Field online box office.
In 2012, District 49 charged CCS with replacing 1,000 Dell laptops with Apple MacBooks. Blake Schwank, CCS owner and founder, says the company’s success was a result of its commitment to customer service and technician education. Today, more than 20 percent of the technicians have Apple certifications.
“We’ve worked hard to hire great technicians who really enjoy working with people and have a desire to continually learn new technologies,” said Schwank, while explaining that CCS employees are eager to watch the growth and advancement of their clients’ businesses.
During the past 10 years, the foundation awarded 287 grants and scholarships to teachers and students in District 49, totaling $237,000. Proceeds from the auction and dinner fund these teacher minigrants and scholarships.
Along with raising funds, the foundation also recognized outstanding members of the District 49 community at the annual event. Award winners stand out among their peers for their investment in their own education, the education of others and helping the community.
FEF is a nonprofit organization that raises funds beyond the usual means of support to help students and teachers reach their full potential. The foundation supports ideas that are innovative, creative and inspirational.
The foundation also recognizes District 49 seniors in the class of 2013 with $500 scholarships. This year, eight students were honored for high academic achievement.
Schmidt’s class raised $72 by the end of the school week and when community members heard about her students’ efforts, additional contributions were given, lifting their total to $300.
Cub Scouts Pack 225 meets regularly at Springs Ranch Elementary School. To give back to their community, leaders CB Denson and Kenneth Knapp organized the pack to create and donate a customized podium, painted with the school’s colors and featuring its bobcat mascot.
HOSA promotes careers in healthcare and creates opportunities for members by enhancing academic, technical and leadership skills. The national student-led organization is 150,000 members strong.
During HOSA’s 2013 leadership conference, the association’s largest gathering ever, Falcon High School student’s Shane Borah, 16, Brianna Schmitt, 15, Adrienne DeBauche, 16, and Emma Nowlin, 16, earned the silver medal during their event.
Falcon High School sent to Nashville 27 of Colorado’s 124 NLC delegates. The students previously placed first, second or third at the Colorado Leadership Conference in March to qualify for the national competition.
Thirty-nine music teachers participated in the weeklong workshop's fourth year at the District 49 high school. Twelve benefited from a new Level 2 stage of instruction. By participating, educators received acoustic guitars and related accessories, along with a box of teaching materials and three graduate credits.
The event is presented by the National Association for Music Education, Guitar and Accessories Marketing Association and International Music Products Association, as well as sponsored by Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
"We had so many different states represented from all levels: elementary, middle and high schools," said Ray Bell, instrumental music director at Sand Creek High School, a Level 2 teacher. "All participants got a box of classroom materials, which is what we worked on through the week. We're getting better at playing and teaching guitar -- primarily teaching."
After playing John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" with a new Taylor acoustic guitar, Jane Koch of Grand Island, Neb., praised the workshop's support for educators. As a new sixth, seventh and eighth grade music teacher at Walnut Middle School in Grand Island Public Schools, she says "being new to the district, I need to build up my skills."
During their time at Camp Elim in Woodland Park, the students learned from real-life problems and observations, while participating in interpersonal and social development opportunities.
While together in a 24-hour setting, the students developed skills in leadership, followership, decision-making, cooperation and communication. They leveraged outdoor technologies, including a Global Positioning System.
The outdoor classroom experience included descriptive writing assignments about nature walks, math calculations with a zip line, obstacle maneuvers in rope courses, and science experiments that led to building windmills and creating tie dye shirts.
Dolfika was notified June 4 that she had been selected for the Lance P. Sijan Chapter of the Air Force Academy Teacher of the Year award for 2012-2013.
She’ll be recognized for her efforts in July at an AFA statewide meeting. As a Lance P. Sijan chapter winner, Dolfika is now in competition for Colorado State Teacher of the Year.
Dolfika will also be formally recognized for her outstanding achievements during the annual STEM Rocks! event in August at Peterson Air Force Base.
“We are so lucky to have such an outstanding educator in our school and zone,” said Malinda Keck, principal at Falcon Elementary School.
Governor John Hickelooper signed SB13-193, “Increasing Parent Engagement In Public Schools.” The PTA joined the co-sponsors of the bill Sen. Evie Hudak and Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp at the state capitol to support the importance of parent engagement in public education.
As a member of the State Advisory Council on Parent Involvement in Education, Colorado PTA gathers best practices to share with communities.
SB13-193 establishes a new position at the Colorado Department of Education to oversee parent engagement in schools throughout the state.
The bill also requires school accountability committees to hold public meetings that solicit input concerning the contents of school priority improvements and turnaround plans before they’re written.
It provides funding to allow regional training to help districts and parents work together to implement best practices and learn how to support a student’s education.
School districts are required to have a point of contact for parent engagement. The contact works to improve communication for student success.
(Courtesy Photo/Colorado PTA)
During the meet May 11 at Fountain-Fort Carson High School, eighth grader Elias Sutton set a new Tri-County League record with a 200-meter time of 23:05 seconds. Classmate Joel Walker topped 1,600- and 800-meter times.
Sutton, William Haywood, Ryan Giles and Brian Saucedo won the 4x100 relay. Haywood, Sutton, Isaiah Lapioli and Tanner Teeples won the 4x200 relay. Walker, Lapioli, Kyle Jones and Noah Beatty won the 4x400 relay.
Other eighth graders who competed included Chance Anders, Daniel Beltran, Alex Freeman, Reuben Otero, Devin Quach, Estefano Reinecke, Gavin Urban and Henry Vo.
During a recent state-level Air Force Association network defense competition, District 49 ranked as three of the top four CyberPatriot teams in Colorado.
This summer, District 49's transportation team will take Joshua's artwork to the Colorado State School Bus Championship Road-e-o, a competition that identifies the state's best in school bus safety. Transportation professionals are evaluated in several areas, like special needs, student management and emergency evacuations. During the event, Joshua's poster will be submitted for the Colorado State Pupil Transportation Association's safety poster contest.
“I am honored and eager to get to work for everyone who depends on Falcon School District 49,” said Hilts about the board’s decision. “The future of public education demands the kind of courage and innovation displayed in District 49. I look forward to joining the team and building on a promising foundation.”
The board commended Hilts for his experience with innovative education and vision for 21st century learning.
In his current position as director of academic services at The Classical Academy, Hilts coordinates efforts of school and instructional leaders. He is a founding director of the award-winning College Pathways blended school. He has also held leadership roles as a high school principal and director of instructional technology.
As District 49’s CEO, Hilts will oversee all educational strategies and functions for the district. He replaces acting CEO Don Begier, and joins the chief business officer and chief operations officer to round out the district’s leadership team.
The district will now begin the process of developing a contract with Hilts, including start date, salary and other contractual matters. Directors will approve a final contract before Hilts officially accepts the position.
The board held an executive session prior to the regular meeting to discuss the CEO finalists, Hits and Mary Vedra. Hilts said he will work closely with Begier, and his current colleagues at TCA to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.
Board directors approved changes to the boundaries for Springs Ranch Elementary School and Remington Elementary School. The adjustments will increase operational efficiency at both schools, allowing Remington to enroll students up to its optimal capacity, and alleviating crowding at Springs Ranch.
The boundary between the two schools will now follow the natural boundary of North Carefree Circle, so students will not have to cross that major road to attend their neighborhood school. Families currently enrolled in either school will have the opportunity to choose whether to opt into the new boundary, which takes effect for the 2013-2014 school year.
Directors approved funding of a vocational program partnership with Pikes Peak Community College. The program provides District 49 high school students the opportunity to pursue career pathway education outside the traditional classroom environment.
The board established guidelines for how many students may participate, as the district funds their concurrent enrollment at the college. The directors also approved funding of a vocational program in cosmetology, providing similar guidelines for students enrolled at the International Salon and Spa Academy.
The board directors approved the Colorado Digital BOCES constitution and bylaws, moving forward with the formation of the program to provide a collaborative support network for online and blended learning. Colorado Digital BOCES is the first entity of its kind in the state, giving educators greater access to best practices and trainings for those educational models.
Jack Bay, chief operations officer, presented a proposed realignment of the facilities, operations and maintenance departments. Bay recommended implementing a structure for operational staff, so they are positioned as a unified team with the priority of developing a plan for cost-savings on the operational side of the district. The board approved the plan, which also establishes lines of reporting, accountability and leadership for the operational departments.
Directors approved a resolution to establish passing periods as educational time, an item annually addressed by the board. Directors approved revisions to board policies and regulations regarding relations with charter schools, staff absences and leave and staff ethics.
Directors approved revised meeting dates for the scheduled May work session, moving from May 22 to May 29, and June meeting, from June 13 to June 12. Also approved were food services for the Head Start program at Evans International and Falcon Elementary Schools for the upcoming school year.
The board received a legislative update from lobbyist Amy Attwood, addressing current and new school finance acts. Of 178 Colorado school districts, District 49 ranks 177 in the funding it receives from the state. Attwood has worked throughout the legislative session to ensure the district maintains a voice in the development of educational policy at the state level. She will continue building relationships with legislators, other school districts and educational stakeholders.
Board directors discussed restructuring of contracts for the district’s top administrators in order to establish a uniform contract for the chief and innovation leader positions. The board members expressed their desire to limit all contracts to one year.
Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6-10, is an opportunity to stop and thank a teacher. Sometimes, a simple thanks is all a teacher needs to feel valued.
"Not only are teachers some of the smartest, most compassionate people I know, but they do work that few of us could accomplish on our best days," wrote Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, in an ED.gov blog post May 6.
"What our teachers really need—and deserve—is our ongoing commitment to work with them to transform America’s schools," he said. "They need us to acknowledge them as professionals who are doing our nation’s most important work."
The District 49 community may share success stories or words of appreciation on the district's Facebook page, or using the #District49 hashtag on Twitter. Around the country, people will celebrate teachers using the hashtag #thankateacher.
For inspiration, visit District 49's "In the Classroom" board on Pinterest.
For more information about the PTA Teacher Appreciation Week, visit PTA.org.
Beginning at 8:30 a.m., the students will hold a Relay Recess, an abbreviated version of the American Cancer Society’s national signature activity, Relay For Life. The Relay Recess program provides cancer prevention and education information, and also raises funds for the American Cancer Society’s mission, “to help create a world with more birthdays.”
“It’s a great opportunity for the students to make an impact in the community as well as become knowledgeable about cancer,” said Erin McGovern, Stetson Elementary School teacher and Relay Recess coordinator. "The students feel good about themselves knowing they are doing something to help others."
The Relay Recess event at the school will provide an opportunity for students, teachers and their families to celebrate and remember those loved ones touched by cancer. The program will last one hour.
For her excellence, the Odyssey Elementary School teacher was recognized as a top STEM teacher in Colorado.
Lamb will now be nominated by the section for the AIAA’s national education award.
“The awards committee and I think that Sandy Lamb is a teacher we would want to have for our children,” said Jim Rendleman, AIAA Rocky Mountain Section chair, during the awards presentation May 2. "She knows how to make STEM fun."
Matia was selected as a recipient of the Lemelson-MIT Program Excite Award and is now a finalist for a 2013-2014 InvenTeam grant.
The InvenTeam initiative, created by the Lemelson-MIT Program, offers an unparalleled opportunity for high school students to cultivate their creativity and experience invention. InvenTeams are comprised of students, teachers and mentors and can receive grants up to $10,000.
Matia’s high school InvenTeam is working to improve bio-sand technology to provide clean water production in third world countries, an initiative started by Bio AuSable, a 4-H InvenTeam located in Canada and New York. Bio AuSable will serve as official mentors for the InvenTeam at Sand Creek High School.
Bio-sand filters are made of layers of sand and gravel with different coarseness that allow water to pass through, while capturing parasites and bacteria in the process. Once water is passed through the filter, it is 98% clean.
The devices can be constructed with simple materials and tools. The operation of the system is designed to be easy and accessible, increasing the availability of clean drinking water for communities in third world countries.
The school submitted its application in April. “Our team of 25 are the most fantastic kids and the strongest class of juniors and seniors I have ever had in 13 years of teaching,” Matia said.
The school’s InvenTeam is partnering with local veterinarian clinics to test water and is looking to foster additional partnerships to incorporate scientific research. Students will work on prototyping and redesigning of the filter based on research and testing.
Kohlhouse was selected by the Colorado Department of Education as the state's 2012-2013 Online Teacher of The Year. With her leadership, Falcon Virtual Academy’s science program has shown tremendous growth and achievement. She builds curriculum to meet the needs of various learning styles, aligning coursework with Common Core standards.
"She's an amazing teacher who does amazing things with kids," said Dave Knoche, Falcon Virtual Academy principal. "And truly her gift is developing those relationships that are crucial for making kids successful."