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LPSD #38 March 2011 meeting Highlights & Citizen Comments

April 6, 2011

Here are the Highlights published by the school district for the Lewis-Palmer School District #38 Board of Education regular monthly meeting. ** Power point presentations are available on the District website under the Supporting Documents folder on the Board of Education page (see 3-17-11 OAC Report.pptx and 3-17-11 Task Force Presentation.ppt).

Following are some of the citizen comments, submitted in writing, that were presented at the meeting.

Also a link to the reports on District meetings in the OCN for March 2011 (Our Community News).

HIGHLIGHTS
LEWIS-PALMER BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING
THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2011

These highlights contain basic information about the key issues discussed during Board of Education meetings.
They are not officially approved minutes and are not intended to be comprehensive.

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INTRODUCTION OF POLISH YOUTH LEADERSHIP EXCHANGE TEAM
Lewis-Palmer High School counselor Larry Clouse introduced the following Polish students, teacher, and host families from the US-Poland Parliamentary Youth Leadership Exchange:
Karolina Roczek – hosted by Haley Midzor and family
Anna Wojcik – hosted by Kourtney Guetlein and family
Weronika Wisnioch – hosted by Shane Mobley and family
Jakub Kowalski – hosted by John Coats and family
Pawel Szymanski – hosted by Josef LeBeau and family
Magdalena Krzysiak (teacher) – hosted by Karen Kennedy
World Link team coordinator Holly Nichols was also in attendance. World Link oversees placement and support of the Polish students while in the United States. She noted this is the first time such a team has been placed in Colorado and they hope to continue to work with Lewis-Palmer School District in the future.

LEWIS-PALMER MIDDLE SCHOOL PROMOTIONAL VIDEO
Superintendent Bauman presented the LPMS promotional video and introduced Dan Marcus, Intro to Video/LPTV instructor, and the three 8th grade students responsible for creating the video: Morgan Dougan, Talia Glowacz, and Megan Roscoe. Copies of this delightful video will be included in a packet of marketing materials to be distributed to area realtors, businesses moving to the Front Range area, and other interested individuals.

DISCUSSION/ACTION ITEMS

Task Force matrix report – Steve Stephenson, facilitator for the community Planning Task Force, provided a PowerPoint update regarding ongoing efforts to reduce expenses and/or increase revenues in order to address a $3.2 million budget reduction anticipated for next school year. This report included a great deal of information that will be further reviewed at the upcoming Board of Education budget workshop on April 7, 2011. Operational and maintenance items were discussed, as well as student transportation fees, reductions in nursing staff, and ideas for marketing and advertising.
Consider/approve “fees in lieu of land” capital outlay resolution – The Board approved a resolution authorizing the use of „fees in lieu of land‟ funding, in an amount up to $350,000.00, for specific capital outlay projects.
Consider/approve new superintendent contract – The Board unanimously approved the contract for the newly appointed superintendent, John Borman, effective July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2013. However, the parties involved agreed that the Board has no obligation to fund the financial obligations of the contract other than for the current fiscal year of the contract term.

Consider/approve employee benefits package – Bob Foster, Director of Personnel, explained options and changes to the employee benefits package for the 2011-12 school year. The Board approved the health insurance plans and premiums available to employees.

Operations Advisory Committee (OAC) update – Deb Goth, OAC chairperson, and Committee members Jeff Bodily and Karen Shuman, provided the OAC update regarding capital reserve, technology, MLO, and enrollment forecast data. They discussed concerns and recommendations for the Board‟s consideration.

INFORMATION ITEMS

Science Step-up Program – Shirley Trees, Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning, introduced Palmer Lake Elementary School teachers Linda Wilson (2nd grade) and Mary Jane Aaby (Kindergarten) who have been working with the “STEP-uP” initiative (Science Teacher Enhancement Program unifying the Pikes Peak Region). The program uses a kit-based approach to science instruction, involving “hands-on, minds-on” learning. Ms. Wilson and Ms. Aaby introduced the insect unit and explained the instructional components of the science kits. They also provided supporting research information and shared student work samples.

High school principal hiring process – The posting for the position of principal at Lewis-Palmer High School opened on February 25th and closed March 17th. Bob Foster stated 18 applications were received. This pool of 18 applicants will be narrowed down to 2 or 3 candidates and it is anticipated interviews will be conducted on March 30th.
Transition plan for new superintendent – Interim superintendent Ted Bauman explained the plan for assisting John Borman in the transition to the role of superintendent. In addition to continuing his leadership at Lewis-Palmer High School until the end of the school year, Mr. Borman will begin attending central office administrative team meetings, the Pikes Peaks area superintendents‟ meetings, and building staff meetings to become more familiar with the day-to-day operations of the District. When available, he will be invited to attend various community groups and organizations to become acquainted with and introduced to community leaders. Mr. Borman, Mr. Bauman, and the school board will work together in the next three months to make the transition for the new superintendent as smooth and seamless as possible.

Dashboard – Cheryl Wangeman, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, presented the monthly dashboard report for the Board‟s review. This document summarizes enrollment numbers and free-and-reduced meals statistics, as well as budget information detailing expenditures and revenue. She noted the following: the budget is favorable regarding utility costs, but there is concern about increased watering due to the dry weather; unemployment compensation has been less than previously expected and it is hoped these funds can be used to absorb the increase in PERA costs for next year; and, it is anticipated there may be an additional $500,000-$700,000 in reserves at the end of the school year, an increase over the predicted $1.5-$1.9 million.

Board member comments – Mr. Pfoff commented on the OAC recommendation to close Prairie Winds Elementary School, noting it is too late to consider a building or grade level reconfiguration for next school year. Dr. Ferguson praised the many areas of outstanding achievement in D38, but added it is necessary to proceed cautiously when considering spending money on marketing. Mr. Pike addressed a citizen‟s comment and stated that the Board has tried to champion good intentions and remove barriers within the community. He clarified that the budget estimates for the next fiscal year are based on a conservative student count. Mr. Mann reiterated that D38 is continuing its culture of excellence; however, he expressed his concern about teaching staff becoming “over-maxed” and the possibility of lagging indicators of the effects of budget cuts.

CONSENT AGENDA
The Board approved routine matters concerning personnel, finances, and District operations.

CITIZENS’ COMMENTS
Ana Konduris, 19055 Shadowood Drive, provided information about a grassroots organization called Direction 38! and voiced her concerns about student enrollment. Jody Richardson, 17180 Oxbridge Road, stated her opinion about the current school board and the decisions that have been made. Marilyn Henderson, 20280 Doewood Drive, invited the Board members to the upcoming annual Festival of the Arts, to be held at Palmer Ridge High School, noting the organization’s past contributions to D38 schools through mini-grants.

My name is Ana Konduris and I live on Shadowood Drive. I’m a member of a grassroots organization called DIRECTION 38! We have 4 specific objectives:

#1: To elect a new School Board. DIRECTION 38 will identify, promote, and support fiscal conservatives with ethics and principles, men and women who can articulate a strategic vision and are not afraid to plan for our future. WE WILL:
#2: Focus on the budget. And hold accountable those who mismanage it.
#3: Insist on a Long Range Plan.
#4: Re-commit to honoring our teachers.

On March 8, I attended the District’s monthly DAAC meeting. A parent addressed a rumor concerning Palmer Ridge High School. She used the expression “elephant in the room.” Now, I don’t know if she used that idiom for the rumor as a whole, or to apply to Palmer Ridge specifically, but I do know this. Palmer Ridge is often referred to as the “elephant in the room.” Even today, people are steaming mad about Palmer Ridge. Many believe that it’s responsible for the distrust that permeates this very room tonight. But, in reality, this DISTRUST, a much, much bigger “elephant in the room,” can actually be traced back to 2004. From 2004 thru 2008, the D38 School Board, with two of our current sitting members, overspent and wiped out our savings account. There are folks in this room right now who firmly believe that since 2008, we’ve gotten our act together, no more deficit spending, and absolutely no overspending. I respectfully disagree.

One more thing. Let’s recall a major premise of the December 2009 Board decision to reconfigure our traditional schools. We were told to expect to lose 140 students each year over the next 3 years. That equals 420 students for a loss of about $2.7M. Wouldn’t we love to have that $2.7M right now? Those are the District’s projections, but here are the facts. Over the past 4 years, our student base population has not decreased. It has INCREASED every single year, even with our weak economy. So! Where are these neighborhood kids going to school? This year 486 (that’s more than 420) are enrolled in District 20, not to mention the 858 students who attend our exceptional charter school, Monument Academy. So the question becomes: Why? Why are 1350 of our neighborhood kids not going to a neighborhood school of academic distinction? I think we can all agree that the answers are long overdue. I just hope it’s not too late.

Comments by Jody Richardson:

Good evening. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you. Having attended almost every board meeting for the past year I have realized that this segment is not for constituents to ask questions of you as when that has happened you have never given answers. Therefore I will just make a statement.
Since I have taken the opportunity to share my opinion with the community through a letter to the editor of the OCN, I feel it is appropriate that I should be willing to address you directly as well. My 3 children had the privilege of attending D38 schools from elementary through high school. During that time I was involved as a volunteer at many levels, as wall as a paraprofessional employee for 7 years. When my youngest graduated in 02 I became involved in other things and kept school district issues on the peripheral. I believe that is probably the norm for most people. When controversial issues came up I read the the articles in the paper, spoke with trusted friends still working in the district and used the ballot box to express my disagreement with the way things were being handled.
Our district has historically been 70 plus % constituents without children in the schools, yet there was always support for district requests for money. In fact I never imagined I wouldn’t support such a request. Unfortunately during the past 7-8 years I have watched our different school boards make one irresponsible decision after another, with none of them feeling that an explanation is necessary to the people they represent. With each subsequent election of new board members I had high hopes that things would change and improve. Unfortunately I was wrong.
I was asked last year by a friend who currently teaches in the district if I would meet with other people who were concerned about current district issues, as this teacher didn’t feel they could voice their concerns without reprisal. So I started attending your meetings, spoke with friends, neighbors, district employees past and present, and started doing my homework.
I realize that you are in a no win situation, as not everyone is going to agree with every decision you make. I don’t agree with many of the decisions you make and that’s okay, I don’t have to. But what I do expect is to see that when you are questioned about an issue and the presenter gives researched information that is different from what you are being told by a district employee, that you would be willing to find out if there is substance for this persons information. It is your responsibility when an employees findings are questioned to do your own homework to find out whose information is truly accurate. Just going back to that employee doesn’t cut it. You have shown an arrogant disregard for any constituent who has questioned your decisions or your process. I am beginning to wonder if most of you even understand your function as a school board member.
When one of you made the statement at the budget workshop last June, and I quote: “I could care less about the budget”, I could hardly believe that is what I heard. You represent ME! You represent every other taxpayer in this school district. It is your responsibility to understand budget issues, to care about the budget, to do your research to guarantee that the phenomenal teachers we have in this district who have been tasked with educating our children, have the resources they need to continue doing an awesome job. Whining and complaining about budget cuts as if our district were solely singled out by the state for those cuts , instead of looking at ways of working within the money that is available is non-productive and a waste of time.
You inherited an overspending our reserves attitude, and if anyone would look at the figures they would see that you continued on with the downward slide. Since you haven’t shown any interest in making fiscally sound decisions and honest efforts at change I can assure you that you will not receive my support for an MLO. You haven’t earned my trust and I don’t think I am alone in this attitude. Thank you.


Lewis-Palmer School District Board of Education, March 17: Committees suggest ways to cut costs

Includes: Report to the Board by the Long Range Planning Task Force; Outline for new Principal search; DAAC meeting report.
Written by OCN reporter Harriet Halbig.

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