School board tackles issues as year comes to end

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The Douglas County Board of Education met Dec.13 for its final meeting of 2016. The board approved a new charter school, approved a resolution to support legislation to help fund growth-related school construction and considered a new contract for athletic trainers.

Charter school approved

The board of education approved a new charter school in Castle Rock that is expected to open in the fall of 2018.

The school board voted 6-1 to approve Apex Community Elementary's charter contract with the district and to enter into a long-term lease for the zoned land in The Meadows to build the school. The site is just off of Meadows Parkway.

The school is expected to help accommodate the growing number of students in the rapidly expanding area of town.

The Apex curriculum is centered on The Core Knowledge Sequence, which is “designed to provide systematic background knowledge to students in order to improve critical thinking and comprehension,” according to the school's website.

New contract for athletic trainers?

The Douglas County School District is considering a partnership with Panorama Orthopedics to provide athletic trainers for school sports.

Currently, athletic trainers are employed by the district, with many of them working as teachers or coaches during the day. The estimated cost to the district for the 2017-18 year is $560,000. Contracting the work out to Panorama which has offices inGolden, Westminster and Highlands Ranch — would cost $450,000, providing $110,000 in savings for the district.

Panorama has agreed to hire all athletic trainers employed now by DCSD at their same salary and allow them to continue at their present school.

“We raised participation fees this year just to keep our current athletic offerings,” said Derek Chaney, director of alternative education, activities and athletics. “We are still going to need some more money from the general fund despite that raise.”

Concerns were raisedby board membersabout district employees switching hats to become private employees. In addition, the change would affect retirement benefits of those already employed by the district, as they would become Panorama employees in their athletic training capacity.

“I can understand and appreciate that we need to save money where we can, but when it's with folks who directly affect our kids, I'm really concerned about that,” board member Wendy Vogel said. “Yes, we are realizing a cost savings, but at the expense of our employees.”

The matter will come back to the board in January for possible approval.

Growth-related school construction

With a 6-1 vote, the board approved a resolution to support state legislation to require developers building new large-scale subdivisions to also build new schools. Board member Anne-Maire Lemieux voted against the resolution.

“I'm of the opinion that the growth is going to occur one way or another, and this resolution would require that (developers) put the schools in communities such as Sterling Ranch,” said board member James Geddes, who proposed the resolution.

Geddes said he did not believe it would impede the growth of the county.

“The developer would distribute the cost of building the school to the customers that would be buying the houses,” Geddes said.

The Douglas County School district is expected to double its enrollment of 67,000 students by 2040.

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