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Poudre School District Board Meeting - 11/28/23

by Matthew Liberati

See the full notes document here.*

View the meeting agenda here.

A video recording of the meeting is available here.

Members Present:

President, District F, Rob Petterson term ended now Kristen Draper

Vice President, Kristen Draper District C now Jessica Zamora District G

District A, DJ Anderson term ended now Scott Schoenbauer

District B, Nate Donovan term ended now Kevin Havelda

District D, Jim Brokish

District E, Carolyn Reed

District F, Conor Duffy

Superintendent Brian Kingsley

Various state elected officials and federal representatives for legislative discussions

~10 Community Members, no community comment for this meeting

At this first meeting of the new Poudre School District Board, legislators attended the meeting to give updates and hear challenges and opportunities from the district.

Board Officers Approved

The new board of directors voted 7-0 to have an open process for officer selection instead of a secret ballot. Kristen Draper was the only nomination for President and Jessica Zamora was the only nomination for Vice President, so they were both acclimated to their positions. Dave Montoya was reappointed as board Treasurer 7-0. Jill Brunner was reappointed as board Secretary 7-0 and Jakie Chapparo-Sierra was appointed as board Assistant Secretary 7-0.

Resolution in Support of National Native American Heritage Month Passes 7-0

Since last year, these changes have been made:

  • Traditional headdress is permitted at graduations

  • Thanksgiving curriculum has been modified

  • A tribe entry option has been added on demographic information.

A student commented that Native American conversations should occur throughout the year.

State legislators offer their perspectives

Janice Marchman, CO Senate District 15 Vice Chair State Education Committee

wants to focus on the rollout of the teacher apprenticeship program, mental health, and air conditioning in schools. Colorado Senator Bennett has stated there are grants from the Department of Energy for air conditioning and she is available to assist in the process.

Mike Lynch CO House District 65 is focused on opioid and fentanyl issues, including getting past stigmas and ensuring schools are using dollars effectively.

State Board of Education Rep Angelika Schroeder pointed to a recently released report that highlights opportunities for secondary and post-secondary opportunities. The board wants to continue to focus on third-grade reading and focus more on third-grade math. The board is studying how to structure school finance for kids in blended learning models where they partially attend physical schools and then participate in virtual, workforce or postsecondary learning.

Cathy Kipp CO House representing south Fort Collins will sponsor a bill to expand teacher mentorship opportunities and wants to the teacher diversity and pipeline programs she has sponsored in the past to continue to be funded.

Becca Benedict, PSD Director of Early Childhood, leads discussion on Challenges to Universal PreK The rollout of the program has made access more difficult, especially for the most vulnerable and special education families. Some families did not get matched until the third round. That has been fixed by having a single point of contact to resolve issues. That contact should be available moving forward. School districts and daycare providers currently follow different sets of rules and policy needs to be better aligned to streamline operations. Hours spent in kindergarten and pre-kindergarten are different and should be aligned. Overall communication needs to be improved along with better planning and consistency. “It became almost impossible to plan ahead; we were always being reactive,” she said. There wasn’t enough money set aside for individuals with risk factors and families had to scramble to find an additional 15 hours of care instead of 30 hours. She recommends that clear guidance be given about available resources sooner. She claimed that monthly billing has never been correct over 4 months, and that 3 years olds have never been paid for. This makes it hard to plan for staffing, along with other issues. New funding models have consolidated special education funding to only allow for 88 placements for 3 year olds, which has caused the district to turn away students.

The state board of education generally agrees with the challenges and thinks the highest-need kids need to be served first. Director Schoenbauer commented that this program was rolled out poorly, and that impacts enrollment in the district in the future. Rep Kipp said that state legislators are available to answer questions and help individuals navigate the process.

Colorado Senator Barb Kirkmeyer Joint Budget Committee Comments

She shares the frustration with the rollout of the program and multiple school districts have complained about the program. There is no board to hold the program accountable. She said she thinks funding is not the problem and she has told the governor that. 36,000 slots are being funded with $135 million. Administration and accountability are not acceptable. Ultimately the governor is in charge of the department and pressure should be added to him and his office. A business plan was supposed to be made prior to implementation, which never occurred.

Board Director Comments and Questions

Director Havelda asked about potential advantages to private providers. Director Benedict said private providers are welcomed. Tax incentive funding is the same for public and private providers, students aren’t being stolen, and families need options. Financial and billing challenges are being felt by all providers. Benedict said the main issue is that the most vulnerable families are having the greatest challenge navigating the system and are being left behind.

Director Zamora asked about ensuring that special education is fully funded. Changes in hours may open up additional seats. Director Reed stated early intervention is critical and that this program – and issues including funding – need to be solved. Senator Kirkmeyer said, “The money is there this is an execution problem.” There may be options to adjust hours and add a board, but that won’t go into effect for at least another year. “This is an administration executive branch execution issue,” she added. The Colorado preschool program had 8,000 full day slots. Currently there are only 4,000 full slots and the hope is to get that number to 6,000. “That’s a problem that’s on the executive branch.”

How will we improve Universal PreK?

Director Draper asked what can we do to tell stories and get things fixed quicker? Senator Marchman said to leverage the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) because multiple districts are having these issues, and to work with the Joint Budget Committee. Senator Kirkmeyer said to send comments directly to the Joint Budget Committee, or to her directly,, and to invite the Governor or Executive Director of the Department of Early Childhood to have conversations along with parents who have been directly impacted.

Education Funding Discussion

The Governor’s preliminary education budget increases spending according to inflation and pays off the Budget Stabilization factor. Senator Kirkmeyer said the joint budget committee is very favorable towards education and any funding requests should be sent directly to the committee. Representative Kipp said removing the budget stabilization factor moves funding to levels last analyzed in 1986. She talked about two upcoming adequacy studies that will analyze the adequate amount to be spent on education.

Air Conditioning misses the legislative priorities this session

Each legislator is allowed to introduce five bills pre session. Senator Marchman has a bill geared toward funding for air conditioning, but it is the sixth bill and will not be introduced. She said individuals need to be made more aware of the issue for it to have higher priority. By her rough count, 50% of Colorado students do not have access to Air Conditioning in schools. Director Duffy talked about the need to utilize advanced technologies and to look at different energy sources when addressing the issue. The offices of the two Colorado federal senators have contacts on staff to assist in applying for federal grants and suggested using public/private partnerships. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs also assists in navigating grants.

Options for graduates aim to keep and grow Workforce Learning and Development

Poudre School District is working with other regional school districts to share resources and partner more effectively with local government and nonprofits to provide Workforce Learning and Development. A workforce innovation grant provides funding for a business coordinator to work with businesses and schools across Larimer county. That grant money is running out. Last year 628 students earned industry certifications.

Questions to Consider

  • How will Universal PreK execution issues be fixed?

  • How will grant applications be coordinated across PSD for needs like air conditioning and workforce learning?

  • What will be the impact of a new President, Vice President and 3 new Directors for the Board and Poudre School District in general?

Next Meeting

This will be a special meeting, the Colorado Association of School Boards.

Dec. 9, 9 a.m. Farny Room, The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs

*Citizen Observers further the commitment of the League of Women Voters to its principle of Citizens Right to Know, however, we are not acting as journalists. Omissions and errors are possible. It is assumed that users of this information are responsible for their own fact-checking. This could include contacting a government clerk, conversing with an elected official or staff, and/or asking us to speak to the Observer who attended.

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