D11 Monthly Insights

A School District 11 Communications Publication

April 2019

  • Superintendent's Top of Mind: Stewardship
  • 2017 MLO Update: The Audit Process
  • Student Spotlight: Billi McCullar
  • Career and Technical Education Highlights
  • Event: April 30 Family Learning Institute
  • Making the Most of the Moment: National Volunteer Week

Superintendent's Top of Mind: Stewardship

stew·ard·ship (noun): the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care.

As I think about the wonderful opportunity I have to serve as the Superintendent of Colorado Springs District 11, I am also reminded of the great responsibility I have to ensure that our district thrives for many years to come. Last month, I mentioned the importance of strategic planning and our efforts engaging our community to be a part of this process. This month, I am extending my thinking about the requirements it will take to align our resources to this new plan and remain stewards of public resources, creating a district that will guarantee amazing outcomes for our students and strong supports for our families and community.

As you may know, we are in the process of creating the budget for next school year, and due to decreasing enrollment over the last ten years, we need to be prudent, yet strategically invest our resources that will maximize learning and continually support and develop our staff to being their best. We have had several meetings with our Board of Education about various recommendations to bring forth a structurally balanced budget. These have been difficult conversations to have, but we must be able to lean in when challenges arise in an effort to be transparent, collaborative, and solution-oriented so we remain a viable district.

We are finding ourselves choosing between good and good, which is the most difficult decision-making point. I often state that it is easy to reduce spending in areas that are not benefiting students, but when we have to make tough decisions about great programs for students or reducing staffing levels, we know that this has a detrimental impact throughout the District and community. We are doing our best to ensure the decisions we are making have the least impact on our classrooms, while at the same time acknowledging that any reductions, if you will, ultimately impact our schools because even central office reductions reduce the support schools may receive.

In the end, I am confident we will develop a budget that benefits our students and staff. I believe our staff and our Board demonstrate the stewardship required, and District 11 will continue to be the district of choice in Colorado Springs.

2017 Mill Levy Override Monthly Update

School District 11 is dedicated to the transparency of work that involves all previous mill levies and bonds that our voters approved. In the spirit of transparency, audits are conducted by a third party review team on a biennial basis. Recently, the auditors from PCG group were in town to conduct an audit of both the 2000 and 2017 mill levies. As part of the process, the folks with PCG conduct:
  • An examination of numerous documents and reports provided by D11, such as: previous mill levy audits, the financial plan, technology plan, the capital project plan, the Mill Levy Program, implementation plan summaries, budget information, and public engagement meeting notes;

  • An analysis of student achievement and demographic data, as provided by the Colorado Department of Education;

  • Site visits by PCG to conduct focus groups and interviews with various stakeholders; and,

  • A survey administered to district staff.

When PCG completes their most recent audit, it will be posted on the mill levy override web page. All past audit reports may also be found on this web page.

Student Spotlight: Billi McCullar

Dr. Thomas visited with third grade Audubon student, Billi McCullar this month. Billi is being recognized for her character and kindness. Her nominator says, "Billi Mccullar is the brightest girl I know, and she also has the biggest heart. Anytime she sees someone being mean to another, she goes and tells the person how special and nice they are and she always makes people feel better. She is in third grade and is on Student Council. She also belongs to the Girl Scouts, CC Science Club, and did long distance track earlier this school year. She is also an amazing artist and had her art entered by Audubon School into the Cultural Arts show. Her same piece of art was recently submitted for another award through Air Academy and Imagination Celebration. As smart and as talented as she is, it is her heart that glows the strongest. She truly is amazing all around, and I think she absolutely deserves to be nominated for Student Spotlight." Keep up the great work, Billi!

Career and Technical Education Booming in D11

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in District 11 are stronger than ever before! The programs in CTE cover traditional fields like business and marketing, automotive technology and culinary preparation, audio and visual technology, but CTE now includes computer science and cyber security, construction technology, pre-engineering and biomedical sciences, and much more.

The opportunities to build student pathways into career readiness begins in the D11 middle schools. At every middle school, students have opportunity to explore computer science, engineering, and much more.

D11 has continued decades of tradition in automotive technology, but we have increased the rigor to become ASE certified programs where students can earn college credits and industry certifications and participate in job shadowing and paid internships throughout their program. Culinary preparation now includes ProStart certification, recognized by the Colorado Restaurant Association as the leading curriculum in hospitality preparation. Students now earn credit through Metro State University and complete internships with award-winning restaurants, such as the Broadmoor, Four by Brother Luck and the Marriot.

D11 is the regions leader in developing cybersecurity programs that build on information technology and networking. Students earn up to 20 college credits in the cybersecurity program at Odyssey Early College and Career Pathways. Additionally, we offer the advanced placement and Project Lead the Way computer science pathways at Doherty and Coronado. Finally, we offer the most advanced software development with 3D and graphic incorporated programing at Palmer and Mitchell High Schools. Students learn to program on devices like 3d Halo lenses and build virtual and interactive environments for the future of programming.

We are home to the regions most advanced robotics programs at Doherty and Coronado. These programs are supported by robust pre-engineering curriculum that includes aerospace, mechanical, and civil engineering courses. In all of the courses, students design and build prototypes on 3d printers, laser engraving equipment, and CNC milling machines. Most recently, the engineering program at Coronado has expanded to include drone flight and technology certification.

The radio and television production programs at Palmer, Doherty, and Coronado remain the best in the city. Students produce weekly broadcasts and are recognized nationally for their work. Additionally, D11 has graphic design courses that lead to college credit and industry certification in Adobe.

We are proud to partner with the Housing and Building Association to support two of the regions Career in Construction programs at Mitchell and Coronado High Schools. These program have taken the traditional wood shop to the next level. Students earn college credits and participate in a pre-apprenticeship program that teaches them all facets of the construction industry and makes them job ready. Additionally, Coronado High School has one of the regions only manufacturing programs where students learn traditional machining and manufacturing trades, including welding and plasma cutting.

Finally, D11 is leading the pack in business education. Odyssey Early College and Career Pathways is one of the only districts in the region to offer High School of Business, a fully credited program recognized by PPCC where students can earn more than 21 college credits. D11 is partnering with local industry to write the first ever high school curriculum for social impact entrepreneurship, and we continue to offer accounting, finance, and marketing at Doherty and Coronado. Students in the business programs compete in DECA and FBLA and have qualified for state and national competitions consistently.

We are proud of our award-winning CTE programs and encourage you to learn more by clicking here.

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Making the Most of the Moment: National Volunteer Week

In April, we recognize the valuable work of all volunteers in D11. Although the National Volunteer Week was April 7-13th, we know our volunteers are deserving of appreciation all year! Thank you to all D11 volunteers for enriching the lives of our students.