AURORA PUBLIC SCHOOLS

1085 Peoria Street
Aurora, Colorado 80011

MINUTES

BOARD OF EDUCATION
February 18, 2003
7:30 P.M.

I. PRELIMINARY

Mrs. Patricia Lord, President of the Board of Education, called the February 18, 2003, meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.

Roll Call

The following members were present:

Mrs. Debbie Barton, Vice President
Mr. Willie Jones, Director
Mrs. Patricia P. Lord, President
Mrs. Madolyn Paroske, Director
Mr. Steve Warstler, Director
Ms. Barbara Yamrick, Treasurer
Mr. Larry Yates, Secretary

Also meeting with the Board of Education were:

Dr. Robert D. Adams, Superintendent of Schools
Mr Fred Maiocco, Assistant Superintendent, Support Services
Mr. Tony Van Gytenbeek, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources
Mrs. Debbie Backus, Assistant Superintendent, Instructional Services

Mrs. Susan McKay, Assistant to the Board of Education

Pledge of Allegiance

President Lord led the Board and audience in the pledge to the flag and welcomed visitors.

Approval of Agenda

The agenda was approved as written.

Approval of Minutes

The minutes of the regular meetings of the Board of Education held February 4, 2003 was approved as written.

II. INFORMATION ITEMS

SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS

Items of Current Interest

Dr. Adams noted our district translator, JosÈ Paz, was present in the audience to assist our Spanish-speaking audience members. The translator wears a compact transmitter and headset microphone while listeners wear portable receivers and lightweight headphones to hear the translator speak.

Dr. Adams next recognized Ms. Patricia Morrison-Hughes. Ms. Morrison-Hughes received the Outstanding Adapted Physical Educator of the Year Award presented by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance for a nine-state district. She was also selected as Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year for Colorado and is being considered for the national honor.

Ms. Brenna Isaacs thanked the Board for the opportunity to speak about the annual celebration of literacy known as Read Across America. Started in 1998 as a way to promote reading while celebrating Dr. Seuss's birthday, which officially falls on March 2nd, NEAís Read Across America has become a national tradition over the past five years. On March 3rd, we celebrate the 99th anniversary of the birthday of Theodore Geisel, better known to all as Dr. Seuss, and author of The Cat in the Hat, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, Oh the Places Youíll Go! and many other wonderful children's stories. His books have led generations of children to discover the joy of reading. Ms. Isaacs added that our goal is to have every child in every school reading with a caring adult for at least 30 minutes that day. More than 40 national partners including PBS, Saturn, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the NAACP, the Urban League, the Organization of Chinese Americans, the American Library Association, the International Reading Association, the National PTA, Kiwanis International, Girl Scouts of the USA, the Screen Actors Guild Foundation and LaRaza are players in this national literacy effort. Board members were asked to join them by endorsing this program, and personally committing to read to children at one of our schools on March 3rd. Ms. Isaacs noted that some of the Board members are already signed up to read at North Middle School on February 28th. Read Across America chairperson, Cathy Wildman, presented Board members with a Cat in the Hat pin.

Report from the Aurora Education Foundation

Mrs. Gigi Stewart and Ms. Shannon Ernst gave an overview of the past yearís Foundation events, services, and financial status. The Foundation was established in 1987 and set the model for other local foundations. It was founded to provide an avenue for the local community, businesses, and non-profit sector to enhance education in Aurora Public Schools. Their mission is to be a community-based advocate for quality education for all children in the Aurora Public Schools. Their four major programs are: 1) teacher grants, 2) scholarships, 3) partnerships, and 4) in-kind donations. Their funding comes from APS staff, corporations, foundations, special events, and individual contributions. Mrs. Stewart recognized that 100% of donations go directly to AEF programs.

Upcoming events are as follows: February 28 is the high school scholarship deadline; March 1-8 is the District Arts Show; March 22 is ìSavor the Flavorî; April 11 is the deadline for the Cutting Edge and Spark Grants; May 3 is the Aurora Symphony Orchestra Concert, ìArts for a Better Tomorrowî; and July 14 is the ìLinks for Learningî golf tournament.

Exceptional Student Services Program Evaluation

The results of the program evaluation for Exceptional Student Services (ESS) and their plan for improvement were given by staff members: Mr. Frank D·vila, Ms. Lisa Hall, Dr. Susan McAlonan, Mrs. Debbie Backus, and Ms. Ann Alexander.

Mr. D·vila gave an overview of ESS: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) establishes a legal foundation; disability categories are identified in IDEA for students ages birth through 21; services are based on need, and academic as well as transition services are provided. Their mission is to provide support/assistance to principals and staffs; develop a continuum of special education services in each building and/or level; improve programming; and support positive family involvement.

Demographics from 2001-02 show that 12% of the APS student population representing 3,642 students have disabilities, with 46% being learning disabled. A current focus for their department is assessment and services for ELA students who have a disability.

Ms. Alexander was brought in to do a special education evaluation in August 2002. How we evaluate these students as well as service delivery was examined. Fewer APS students with disabilities spend a full school day in general classes, compared to statewide data. Students in specialized programs may attend several schools from preschool to middle school and IEPís do not always adequately justify removals from general education settings. The quality of instruction as well as staffing patterns to provide direct services to kids was reviewed. In addition, transportation was looked at and how to save money. Ms. Alexander visited eleven schools and invited people to conduct in-depth interviews. She reviewed records of students with disabilities and studied state regulations. Extensive surveys of staff and parents were done and they checked with parents to see if schools were welcoming places.

We begin by identifying students that have disabilities in which an intervention process focused on instruction is important. Ms. Alexander noted her concern that the current intervention process in our district is more focused on referral than instructional strategies. Also when they began, identification of ELA students with disabilities was not being well understood. Site-based intervention teams were voluntary and not present everywhere. The APS identification rate is somewhat higher than other districts. This can reflect a schoolís expectations as well as the conditions in the community associated with disability. Ms. Alexander reviewed the identification rates in ethnic groups, noting the highest incidence of disabilities are students of African-American descent.

Ms. Alexander explained that IEPs often do not adequately address studentsí needs to succeed in general curriculum. Students with disabilities perform lower than students who are not disabled on such tests as the CSAP, MAP and DERA. Transportation of students with disabilities is also costly; in 2001-02, 688 students were transported at a cost of $3,567 per pupil. This equates to approximately 47% of total general fund ($2.4 million). Under Legal Compliance, the policies/procedures were recently reviewed by outside legal counsel. Ms. Alexander found that there is substantial compliance with state and federal regulations in our district. Most disputes are resolved outside due process. The goals in the ESS plan align with the Aurora Achievement Initiative (AAI). However, the AAI approach is not yet well integrated into special education at the building level. The ESS budget/staffing pattern is comparable to other districts. Ms. Alexander noted that opportunities for general/special education collaboration and joint training need to be increased. School environments are inviting to families, and schools and families plan services together. The surveys found the majority of parents are satisfied with the services provided to their children.

Ms. Alexanderís recommendations were as follows: Articulate how students with disabilities are fully integrated within the framework of the AAI; develop a long-range plan for consolidating specialized programs; implement ìinstructional consultationî model for site-based interventions; strengthen literacy curriculum; strengthen the evaluation and curriculum models for ELA students with disabilities; continue to strengthen staff development; continue to address legal compliance; and increase family and community involvement.

Mr. D·vila went over the preliminary plan to address the recommendations. Mrs. Backus clarified that this is the direction we believe weíll be going, not a strategic plan. Mrs. Backus said she believes the strategic direction we will go is with full implementation of the Aurora Achievement Initiative. She added that we must be more explicit with our conversations at sites and articulate how students with disabilities are fully integrated within the framework of the AAI. The instructional needs of those students will be clearly articulated in the IEPís. We will be asking special education and regular education teachers to plan for the instruction; they will identify a clear plan for those childís needs and integrate them back into regular education at a specific date. Dr. McAlonan added that we will look at where we place programs. At the elementary level, we need to consolidate programs so students do not have to move between schools. At the secondary level, weíre getting more severe behavior problems that typically would be in day programs. We will commit resources and training to implement instructional consultation models for site-based interventions. Buildings will form a group of instructional experts who are to identify students not learning. They will then help plan for the instruction of that child before looking at special education. In turn, referral rates should diminish. She added that the new IEP process will free up time for people. Dr. McAlonan shared that our current SASI software talks with the newly purchased TRANQUILITY software so they will be able to generate additional and very useful data.

Dr. Adams said now that we have the data and general recommendations, we have to broaden the base. Our next steps are to get our special educators and regular educators to work more collaboratively. Mrs. Backus said the plans to consolidate programs are underway now in terms of how we can put programs together to keep kids from moving around. Dr. McAlonan said they will put together a strategic plan to share with the Board.

Mr. Jones recognized that community involvement nearly always falls last on the list and he doesnít want it to get lost in the shuffle. Mr. D·vila said they have a committee working on this very diligently. They are learning more what each building is doing and what is working best. Their plan is to keep parents informed about the changes. Dr. McAlonan added they have a parent liaison as well. Dr. Adams noted that as part of this analysis, a survey was taken of special education parents which indicated a high rate of satisfaction.

Mr. Jones inquired about the identification rates in ethnic groups and why African-American numbers indicate more disabilities than the other nationalities. Ms. Alexander explained that cultural influences, the relationship of poverty to disabilities, and social and economic influences are debated at length in regard to this. It is believed that teaching methods and instruction can change these trends. Mr. Jones asked what they look for when testing a student. Dr. McAlonan said there are five categories: communication, education, emotional/social, cognitive, and health/motor skills.

Ms. Yamrick emphasized the importance of not isolating these students and providing them the same opportunities as regular education students. Mrs. Lord said they compared us to national and state averages; she would be interested in a district of our size and make-up instead. Her other concern is unfunded mandates and integrating more programs back into our individual school sites. She feels we need to be able to fund a program if weíre going to provide it, and cautioned to be cognizant of the needs of the individual teacher and individual school.

Establishing a Building Fund - Supplemental Appropriation

Mr. Weeks provided the Board of Education with information about establishment of the Building Fund to track and report both revenues from the sale of bonds and bond project expenditures. He explained that one of the legal requirements of the Board is the establishment of a building fund. The amount determined for this year is just under the $11 million. Mrs. Lord inquired how they reached this amount. Mr. Weeks clarified this is calculated on an annual basis and there are only four months left this year. The other $139 million can be unappropriated. When the Board adopts the budget in June, it will have the anticipated amount for next year included. This will return as action on March 4.

DIVISION OF HUMAN RESOURCES

No Items

DIVISION OF INSTRUCTIONAL SERVICES

No Items

DIVISION OF SUPPORT SERVICES

Boundary Discussion

Mr. Maiocco explained that in light of current enrollment challenges at Montview and Side Creek Elementary Schools, the Board of Education will be asked to consider boundary adjustments at these schools. Side Creek is growing about 100 students per year due to the Sterling Hills subdivision. Arkansas has remained stable. We want to shift the students at the Foxdale and Sun Chase apartments back to Arkansas from Side Creek. Secondly, Montview has rising enrollments while Park Laneís are declining. They are looking at the area north of 23rd Street, which would have approximately 90 students that could attend Park Lane. Mr. Maiocco noted that meetings have been held at both schools, with a fair number of parent participants. Strong feelings have been shared on both sides of this issue. Mr. Maiocco said they discussed the difficult circumstances such as mobiles and the potential of 850 students at Side Creek. The year-round concept was not welcomed as an alternative. He clarified that although boundary decisions are never easy, they are for the best education of our students. He added that bussing would be provided, at least for next year.

Audience

Ms. Wendy Corado, 2324 Lima St., 303-365-2746. Ms. Corado was concerned with the request for some kids to move to Park Lane. She lives between 23rd Street and 25th Street, which is only a one to two block walk to Montview Elementary School. Her daughter has attended Montview from the beginning and they question why not move the new students. Ms. Corado added that she fears incidents that could occur in regard to transportation such as kidnappings. She asked the Board to please reconsider their decision about this boundary change.

Ms. Maria Elena Vasquez, 2060 Joliet, 303-364-4006. Ms. Vasquez was concerned about the babysitters that will have children coming from two different schools. She is only six blocks from Montview and does not feel it is fair for those that live even further away to have access to the school but not her child.

Ms. Socorro PeÒa, 2307 Moline St., 303-343-0697. Ms. PeÒa has two students at Montview. As they live only one block from the school, she feels it would be very unfair to move them to Park Lane. She also feels bus transportation is not secure. Ms. PeÒa explained that she takes the time away from work in order to take her child to school and not put them on a bus. She added that there are many families that share their concerns but are unable to be here tonight. She asked the Board to please listen to the few that are present and not take them for granted.

Ms. Reyna Verde, 2301 Moline, 303-360-6403, was here to protest the move of Montview students to Park Lane. She has a daughter in kindergarten and another one, pre-kindergarten. She noted that parents such as herself, who have no transportation, would be unable to get to Park Lane if an emergency were to arise.

Ms. Yamrick asked if we could explain to them about open enrollment procedures and emergency situations. Mr. Maiocco said open enrollment was addressed at all the meetings. Ms. Yamrick said perhaps we need to tell them more in-depth how it is done. Mr. Yates clarified that open enrollment applies if there is space available in a school; this is not the situation. Mrs. Lord said boundary changes are one of the hardest things the Board does. They understand what these parents have said and if Montview wasnít overcrowded, they would not make a change. They cannot put more mobiles at Montview. Dr. Adams added that we are sympathetic to all issues. We will be faced with more boundary issues in the future with our changing community in Aurora. He said regardless of where the boundary lies, someone will be within a block of the boundary line. Mrs. Lord added that we care very much about student safety and the safety of our busses is a top priority. She suggested parents being able to meet some of our transportation employees as they are good people and most are from our community. Mr. Maiocco will serve as a contact for these parents and Mr. Paz and Mr. D·vila will also be glad to assist. This item will return for action on March 4.

General Obligation Bonds, Series 2003A

Mr. Weeks provided the Board of Education with information concerning the sale of General Obligation (GO) Bonds, Series 2003A. The Resolution and related documents authorize the District to sell newly authorized GO Bonds in the amount of $150 million to complete a significant portion of the projects identified in the Capital Improvement Plan approved by the voters on November 5, 2002. This Resolution also authorizes and approves various documents associated with the sale of the bonds such as the Bond Purchase Agreement, the Registrar and Paying Agent Agreement, and the Continuing Disclosure Certificate. Mr. Dee Wisor explained this resolution authorizes $150 million in general obligation bonds, and is the contract between the School District and the bond holders. He added a positive thing is that we have the bond insurance already and these bonds have a Triple A rating. The current interest rate is 4.5% for 20 years. This item will return for action on March 4.

Series 1991, 1996B, and 1996C Bond Defeasance

Mr. Weeks provided the Board of Education with information concerning the proposed defeasance of outstanding District Bonds in the various series referenced. The Resolution allows the District to pay off its existing debt earlier than originally scheduled. This defeasance will include bonds and amounts that were deferred last spring as recommended by the Districtís bond counsel and financial advisors. This authorizes the staff to use $12 million to defease the above bonds; that is economically to our advantage. We exchange high interest debt for low, which is the best for taxpayers in the District. This will result in approximately a $3 million savings. Mrs. Paroske said in looking at the financial situation in many districts, she thanks all the District financial advisors and employees for putting us in a position far superior to other districts in the state. This will return for action on March 4.

III. CONSENT AGENDA -ACTION ITEMS

SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS

No Items

DIVISION OF HUMAN RESOURCES

Personnel Items

Mr. Van Gytenbeek recognized the retirement of Mr. Thomas Nelson, 20 years of service with the District. He then recommended the Board of Education approve the personnel actions as presented.

DIVISION OF INSTRUCTIONAL SERVICES

No Items

DIVISION OF SUPPORT SERVICES

No Items

The consent agenda passed unanimously.

IV. ACTION ITEMS

SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS

No Items

DIVISION OF HUMAN RESOURCES

No Items

DIVISION OF INSTRUCTIONAL SERVICES

No Items

DIVISION OF SUPPORT SERVICES

No Items

V. CONCLUDING ITEMS

Opportunity for Audience

Ms. Susan Tabacheck, 546 Kenton St., 303-364-5191, thanked Ms. Yamrick for listening to her and Dr. McAlonan for working with her on a problem she encountered with her son . She noted we are having a social problem in the community and it is now being reviewed. Ms. Tabacheck also thanked Mrs. Backus for hearing her concerns last year and said she looks forward to following the changes that were addressed in the special education area this evening.

Next meeting date

The next business meeting of the Board of Education will be held March 4, 2003, at 7:30 p.m. in the Board of Education Room of the Administration Building, 1085 Peoria Street.

Adjournment

There being no further business, the regular meeting of the Board of Education was adjourned at 10:10 p.m.