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Six Falcon 49 Schools Win Innovation Status as Board Nears Important Crossroads

About six weeks ago I shared with readers that the Falcon School District 49 innovation plan was nearing a crossroads. That crucial time may now be upon us. As reported in the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado State Board of Education yesterday unanimously approved requests to give six District 49 schools official innovation status:

“Innovation is here to stay,” said Bob Felice, Innovation Zone leader/assistant superintendent, adding that the plans grant a lot of autonomy to teachers and parents.

Yesterday’s Board votes bring the list of innovation schools to 33, including 24 from Denver Public Schools and now the following six from Falcon 49:

  • Vista Ridge High School
  • Skyview Middle School
  • Odyssey Elementary School
  • Ridgeview Elementary School
  • Stetson Elementary School
  • Falcon Middle School

The first five schools on the list submitted their proposal together as the POWER Zone, tailoring their request for state waivers to modify their school calendars. Falcon Middle School won approval to adjust curriculum, to try standards-based grading, to oversee its own information technology, and to set its own student fee schedule.

As POWER Zone leader Felice was quoted above, though, the innovation process has been set in motion to launch more ambitious reforms. Additionally, three other District 49 schools have secured local board approval and await a vote before the State Board.

The other key moment comes tonight, as the split four-member Falcon school board is scheduled to select a new member to fill a vacancy. The question very much worth watching is whether the decision tips the balance in favor of, or against, more innovation momentum. I know which side I’m rooting for.