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A Voice Raised

The voice of Valley High School student Samantha Greer rang out during the West Des Moines Community School District Board of Education meeting on May 14, 2012.

She wasn’t speaking on a specific board issue; she was singing.

The Watchman’s Daughter” by Samantha Greer

During the board meeting, Greer played a recording of “The Watchman’s Daughter,” a song she wrote for the annual Law Day competition sponsored by the Polk County Bar Association. The competition’s theme this year was “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom,” and was chosen to underscore the importance of the courts and their role in ensuring access to justice for all Americans.

In her song, Greer tells of a world in which a woman is forced to take justice into her own hands because her ruler has become a dictator and there are no court systems to bring him to justice. “Courts ensure that everyone is held accountable for their actions,” Greer stated in a recent email.

Greer, who won second place in the Law Day competition, plans to double major in music business and music songwriting/performance after high school. She was introduced to the board by Valley High School Orchestra Director Phil Peters, who encouraged her to enter the contest.

When asked why she chose to write a song, Greer quipped, “It’s the only thing I can do properly.”

The statement doesn’t do justice to her range as a musician. She plays both the violin and guitar on the recording, as well as sings. She also plays the piano, banjo and drums.

Take a listen to her song to hear solid evidence of her talent – case closed.

Authentic Intellectual Work in Action

Also during the meeting, several West Des Moines teachers presented their efforts with Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW). A district team of elementary teachers demonstrated the process they use to score and give feedback to each other as part of their collaborative work through AIW.

AIW sets standards for teaching academic subjects that:

  • maximize expectations of intellectual rigor for all students,
  • increase student interest in academic work,
  • support teachers’ taking time to teach for in-depth understanding rather than superficial coverage of material,
  • provide a common conception of student intellectual work that promotes professional community among teachers of different grade levels and subjects, and most important,
  • equip students to address the complex intellectual challenges of work, civic participation, and managing personal affairs in the contemporary world.

The presenting teachers were Jeri Daniels, Jory Smith, Amy Rosenberger, Lynda Niffenegger, Jessica Leighton, Sara Costello, Diane Breckenridge, and Kristi Bentz. They were joined by their district coach, Shannon Johnson.

Other Action Items

In addition, the board took the following actions during the May 14 board meeting:

  • held a hearing on the  Valley High School Improvements Phase 2A;
  • held a hearing on the Valley Southwoods 2012 Upgrades;
  • accepted the Heartland Finishes bid in the amount of $9,131 for Bid Package #12A –Window Treatments package on the Valley High School Improvements Phase 2A Project;
  • accepted the Nikkel and Associates, Inc. bid in the amount of $109,300 for Bid Package #27B – Clocks and Paging Systems package on the Valley High School Improvements Phase 2A Project;
  • accepted the Wolin & Associates, Inc. proposed base bid and Alternate #1 for a total project cost of $147,200 for sanitary sewer, flooring and ceiling work in the kitchen and Consumer Technology classroom areas to route the kitchen and classroom sanitary waste to two 5,000 gallon grease interceptors and new air cooled condensing units, refrigerant piping and cooling coil serving unit AH-4 (main office) under the alternate;
  • approved a printing contract with LRI;
  • approved a renewal contract with Morningside College to provide courses for teachers to meet licensure requirements in the field of Special Education;
  • approved a new contract with 4 Oaks to provide mental health programming for special education students in grades 6th-12th;
  • approved a renewal contract with 4 Oaks to provide programming for students in the Long Term Suspension/Expulsion program;
  • approved Student Teaching Agreements with the following institutions: Drake University, Grand View College, Grinnell College,  Iowa State University, Luther College, Northwest Missouri State University, Simpson College, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, University of Phoenix, William Penn University, Valley Forge (practicum/observation at VSW May 2012);
  • approved a contract with Mindmixers/Socialmention for a web-based service capable of hosting town hall meetings and community surveys and related projects promoting an exchange of information and ideas for $5,000 for 12 months service;
  • approved a contract with the West Des Moines Marriott Hotel outlining obligations for discounted rooms for the “Mid-America Cup” debate competition guest teams. Each year, the Valley High School debate team hosts the “Mid-America Cup,” a premier national debate competition, at the end of September;
  • approved a new agreement with Heinemann Professional Development for three days of training August 13-15, 2012. Two consultants will conduct training in the Benchmark Assessment Systems for all K-6 classroom teachers, Special Education, ELL, ELP, Reading Resource, Instructional Coaches, and Administrators. Total cost for two consultants for three days of professional development is $17,200.00;
  • approved a renewal contract to offer 1-1 nursing services to a student per their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This is funded through the special education budget and is reimbursed through Medicaid for appropriate services;
  • approved the list of Walnut Creek Campus students to receive diplomas, contingent upon completion of all graduation requirements as outlined by the policies of the district.  In the event there are extenuating circumstances in which a student meets graduation requirements after the Board approves the 2012 list of graduates, the President of the Board and the Superintendent are authorized to add the qualifying student’s name to this approved list;
  • approved the Administrator Salary and Benefits Proposal, Supervisor/Specialist Salary and Benefits Proposal, Non-Unit Salary and Benefits Proposal, Kids West Salary and Benefits Proposal, Building Supervisor Salary, and Substitute Wage and Miscellaneous Wage Proposal as presented;
  • waived the first reading of and approved Board Policy Series 404.3 “Leaves of Absence Under Family & Medical Leave Act” as presented. Carroll noted this is a change in the previously approved policy due to a language correction;
  • approved the bills for payment in the amount of $7,735,971.87 as recommended by the administration;
  • approved the request for an executive session to consider whether to expel a student, reconvened from executive session into the regular session, and voted to expel a student through the end of the 2011-12 school;
  • adopted the consent agenda including minutes of the April 23, 2012 workshop and regular, personnel resignations, personnel recommendations, support staff new hires, change orders to the Stilwell Junior High Phase 3 project for Seedorff Masonry Inc. ($348) to move a sink and add waterline for small ice maker at 1155a PE Office, for Hansen Company (-$2,700) to change SOG sub-base to suitable clay fill, to change resinous coating specification and to change operable windows to fixed windows, for Central Iowa Mechanical (-$2,752) to move a sink and add waterline for small ice maker at 1155a PE office, to delete vent piping at grease interceptors, and for Midwest Fire Sprinkler ($187.50) to demolish Ansul fire protection system at kitchen exhaust hood, change orders to the Valley High School Phase 2 project for Concrete Technologies, Inc. ($1,024) to make adjustments to floor levelness testing and to add dowels at first floor CMU, for Forrest and Associate, Inc. ($975) to make modifications to wall ratings per code plan key and to modify pipe chase in link C1201, for Katelman Steel Fabrication, Inc. ($769) for channel supports at level one windows, for Nikkel and Associate, Inc. (-$1,057) to delete wiring associated with three fire smoke dampers, for Olympic Companies ($4,505) to make modifications to wall ratings per code plan key, to modify pipe chase in link C1201 and to make additions to existing conditions to make connections required at the north wall of the addition; and for Proctor Mechanical ($0) to delete three fire smoke dampers and to modify venting for OS-1, changes order to the Walnut Creek Campus project for Van Maanen Electric ($6,210) to rough-in electrical and connect door operator to add doors to restrooms, to make revisions to electrical ceiling rough-in to accommodate a gypsum board ceiling versus a lay-in ceiling in restrooms, to add power outlets in Computer Lab, to rough-in electrical and connect door hardware and card reader for new doors added in Corridor 013C01, to adjust electrical rough-in at Area A classrooms so perimeter heating units are coordinated with the perimeter millwork alternate, and to install a dedicated circuit for vending machine in Staff Lunchroom, for Olympic Companies ($5,040) to furnish and install gypsum board ceilings in lieu of lay-in ceilings at restrooms, to lower height of partition door and use manual bottom seals, to paint areas associated with adding doors in corridor 013C01, to replace moisture damaged wood framing, insulation and vapor barrier below the three bay windows in the Media Center, and to remove and replace furring, insulation and drywall in four locations to accommodate AV rough-in, for Rochon Corporation ($8,480) to furnish and install doors and hardware for Restrooms 1206 & 1207, to furnish and install doors in Corridor 013C01, to demo existing steel angles at Admin soffit, to make changes to door hardware resulting from 4/25/12 keying meeting, for L.A. Fulton & Sons ($828) to modify ductwork needed to accommodate gypsum board ceilings vs. lay-in grid ceilings in Restrooms 1206, 1207, 1401 & 1403 and to raise vent pipe to existing grease interceptor, for Summit Fire Protection ($495) to add two sprinkler heads to accommodate doors being added at Restroom 1206 & 1207 and to add one sprinkler head to accommodate new doors being added at Corridor 013C01, changes order to the Valley High School Phase 1 project for AJ Allen ($707) to install a pressure sensor to the side stream filter system piping and for Siemens ($430) to furnish a pressure sensor to the side stream filter system piping.

Above is an informal summary of the actions of the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education at recent meetings. This is provided as a service to district staff and the public. This is not the official minutes of the board meeting, but a quick rundown of action taken, not necessarily in chronological order. Official board minutes must be approved by the board per Policy 212.1 and then are posted on our website (

Topics: Education, School Board News

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