Krage and Sheriff Wegener Discuss Safety

Superintendent Brenda Krage and Sheriff Fred Wegener discuss school safety during a school board working session. The topic was brought again to the forefront with the recent tragedy in Parkland, Fla.

(Photo by Bill Bruner/The Flume)

In a press release, Superintendent Brenda Krage announced her departure from the Platte Canyon School District. She will fulfill her original contract and leave at the end of the school year.

In a special board meeting held Monday, March 19, the board listened to Randy Black, from the Colorado Association of School Boards. Black told the board about the assistance CASB can give in a search for a new superintendent.

The full search, which was done for Dr. Krage, costs $9,000 and has seven steps. The five-step search costs $4,500, and then CASB can also tailor a search to fit the district and what their needs are.

At a work session before the regular March meeting, after listening to a couple public comments, the board had a very open discussion about what they want to do for the superintendent search. After debating for nearly an hour, the board decided that they want to first open the search to internal candidates.

The board is open to hiring an interim superintendent for the 2018-19 school years as Black suggested that this time of the year is not the best time to find a new superintendent. The board will hold a public forum the first week of April to get community feedback.

The meeting began with a work session to discuss school safety in light of the recent shooting in Parkland, Fla. It was discussed that overall the safety plan that PCSD has in place is better than that in most districts.

Sheriff Fred Wegener also announced that the school resource officer will be returning to the high school as an added layer of protection. The board would like to see a resource officer in every school and may try to get a sales tax increase on the ballot to fund that idea.

The board then discussed how and why things have changed over the years, and Wegener had much to say about the change.

“What happened to our society? What happened to the love we all used to experience? What happened to the school environment, where I used to be able to take my gun and was able to leave it in my truck and nothing ever happened?” Wegener asked.

“We had fights all the time, but nobody shot anyone, and nobody stabbed anybody; you butted heads and it was over. What turned kids into wanting to, maybe they were anesthetized, I don’t know what other word to use.

“Where they all of sudden thought it was OK to bring a gun to school, and that’s just the start, to where they then brought a gun into school or they pulled a knife out – what changed? I hear all this talk of wanting to go after guns of war or assault weapons or whatever the case may be, but nobody’s had the wonderful idea yet of how you take the guns away from the criminals.

“We always try to attack the law-abiding citizens, but we’re not going after the real problem. How do we keep the guns out of the hands of the individuals that are mentally unstable? Where’s our treatment centers? Where did all the funding go to open treatment centers for the mentally ill that we use to have in the 70s, which are all gone now?”

Wegener went on to say that marijuana has brought other states problems to Colorado, and nobody thought of the impact of that on the resources of the state. He believes we need to circle back around and fund the services to keep people healthy.

The board and Wegener also agreed that they did not like the idea of arming teachers or having volunteers with conceal-carry permits patrol the schools.

The board made note that specifics about their safety plan would not be disclosed, and that they just wanted to talk in general about the topic because of the recent shooting in Parkland.

They also suggested formalizing the relationship between the sheriff’s department and the district. The work session was then adjourned, and after a short break, the regular meeting began.

The regular meeting began with the recognition of students in winter sports/activities who qualified for state. The PCHS ski team qualified. Luke Bailey, Alex Cregan and Nick Cregan. Luke Bailey and Alex Cregan went on to win the state Giant Slalom competition.

Next the board recognized the speech team. First were the state semi-finalists. Joe Huntley for impromptu, Sierra Nieland for humor and Jackson Seidler for humor interpretation.

Then the board recognized the state finalists: Brenna Curry for poetry interpretation, Drew Heineman for humor interpretation, Emma Heineman for duet humor, Emily Huntley for contrasting monologue, Sierra Nieland for duet humor and Heidi Sussenbach for creative storytelling.

The board then heard about creating a pilot program for AP computer science. The program was developed by math teacher Kayla Holman, who saw a real need for the class. There are over 500,000 jobs in computer science that go unfilled because of the lack of qualified candidates.

There have been nine students who have asked for the class, and they believe there will be at least six more who want to participate.

Holman applied for a grant to pay for the class, and students will be asked to pay $150 fee to participate in the class. If the pilot class is successful, it will be added to the curriculum in coming years.

Next the board heard about the research into changing PCHS’s math textbook. The selection committee has narrowed the selection down to two different suppliers. They will hold meetings with the community to select the best option for PCHS.

Then the board heard about a proposed curriculum for Fitzsimmons Middle School. FMS is looking at a program called social emotional learning. This would be the next step to help students learn alternative thinking strategies. A program like this was introduced to Deer Creek Elementary School in 2015.

The addition of the program for FMS would be the next logical step to help students. The program cost is $5,999 for three years. A program for PCHS is also being investigated but not being proposed at this time.

The superintendent’s report was next, and Krage mentioned that the Boys and Girls Club of the High Rockies will be doing the same summer program they did last year. Krage also said that the change to using Schedule Wizard will dramatically help streamline the scheduling process.

Krage then spoke about the self-insurance rates that will going up for the district. The current estimated increase for the district will be 19.3 percent, which is less than the statewide increase of 24 percent.

Krage finally mentioned that the district has won three new awards that will be announced in the coming months. The district has again won accreditation with distinction.

Next the board approved the letter that Krage will sign with other superintendents regarding the new school funding distribution formula, which was discussed at last month’s school board meeting (see The Flume article “School funding formula…” dated Feb. 23, 2018).

The board approved the consent agenda, which included the following donations: $194.75 for FMS for the special needs room from Knights of Columbus, $194.75 for DCES from the Knights of Columbus, $500 for PCHS for a paper cutter and illustration board for the art department from Joan Grant, and $200 for PCHS for two I-phones for the art department from Infinity Home Collection.

In board member reports, Katy Davis and Frank VanDeHey discussed the first Connecting With the Community event.

They felt the event was successful, with over 30 people participating, and received good feedback. The board is working on the next Connecting With the Community event and will send out a notice once the date is set.

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