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Archive for February, 2014

Peas and Carrots with Willow Dye

staff-willow-dyeGetting to know our new WDMCS Director of Nutrition, Willow Dye.

What is your favorite

  • TV Show: I do not watch much television. Any sporting events such as basketball, baseball/softball or football or the history channel would be my favs.
  • Movie: The Sandlot
  • School Lunch: Orange Chicken and Brown Rice
  • Restaurant: Appare Japanese Steakhouse or Chicago Speakeasy

What attracted you to working in school nutrition? What is the most rewarding aspect?
The attraction to school nutrition was the impact I was able to have on a large population nutritional status and my desire to improve upon the national school lunch program. I understand the importance of good nutrition and the ability to learn and I love being a part of that process.

The most rewarding aspect to me is providing my staff the tools to create a quality program and being able to see the pride and satisfaction that fosters as well as the feedback provided from the staff and students and appreciation they show us for the meals that we provide.

What does the nutrition department do to ensure delicious and nutritious meals are offered to students?
All of our meals meet the State and Federal Guidelines set forth for child nutrition programs. In addition we use nutrient analysis calculations as well as a popularity index to determine acceptability of meals.

Are there any new and exciting things you plan on bringing to the lunch table?
Currently our focus is on breakfast. Districtwide our breakfast participation is low and we have set goals to increase breakfast participation. National school breakfast week is March 3-7. Numerous studies have shown students that eat breakfast have higher test scores, less difficulty paying attention in class and fewer nurse visits as well as absences from school.

What are two tips you would give parents who want to have their children at least try more nutrition foods?
Two tips I would give is to involve the child in the meal planning, shopping and preparation process. Give them the task at the grocery store of picking out a new fruit or vegetable to try.

Try and include as many sit down family meals as possible. Children that consume meals as a family are more likely to try new food items and consume a healthier diet than those who do not share in family meals.

Would you share your favorite family recipe with us? Why is it your favorite?
Carrot Zucchini Cake is my family favorite recipe. My grandmother used to make it for me and I was “allowed” to have cake for breakfast! A warm slice of heaven first thing in the morning made it oh so good! I have altered the recipe to make it a whole grain rich cake by substituting part of the all purpose flour for whole wheat flour and the cake is delicious and nutritious!

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups canola oil
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground ginger}
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2 cups zucchini
2 cups carrots
1 cup nuts

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl beat eggs and sugar until frothy. Gradually beat in oil. Combine dry ingredients; add to batter. Beat 4 minutes. Stir in carrots, zucchini and nuts. Pour into three greased 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pans. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

For frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until sugar is dissolved. Spread between the layers and over the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with whole or chopped nuts. 12-14 servings.

Topics: Nutrition

Board Highlights – Feb. 10

2014-15 Calendar Hearing Held
On Monday, Feb. 10, the WDMCS Board of Education held a hearing on the proposed 2014-15 calendar. The proposed calendar is based on instructional hours as opposed to the current calendar, which is based on days. The proposed calendar includes the following:

  • First Student Day: Wednesday, Aug. 20
  • Winter Break: Dec. 22-Jan. 2
  • End Semester 1: Friday, Jan. 14 (90 days)
  • Flex Days: Nov. 26 and March 13
  • Staff Work Days (No Students): Sept. 15, Oct. 13, Jan. 19, Feb. 20, April 24
  • Spring Break: March 16-20
  • Last Student Day: Wednesday, June 3 (90 days)

The November 26 and March 13 flex days are again part of the calendar. (There is no school for students and staff because certified staff held parent-teacher conferences after contract hours.)
Sept. 15, Oct. 13, Jan. 19, Feb. 20, and April 24 are designated as teacher professional development days.

A survey listing the top four calendar options developed by the district’s calendar committee was open Jan. 24-Feb. 6, 2014. There were a total of 3,076 responses, with 75 percent from parents and 25 percent from school district employees. The priorities ranked most important were ending first semester at winter break and a full two week winter break. Please see the following link for more information on the survey results:

The district’s calendar committee did not provide a recommendation regarding how days missed due to inclement weather would be made up with a calendar based on hours as opposed to days.

The committee will continue to meet to determine a tentative calendar for 2015-2016, which will be shared with the School Board before the end of the current school year. The committee will move toward a calendar with finals at winter break. This was indicated to be a priority on surveys of community and secondary students. The committee noted that parents would have more time to plan for an earlier start date of August 13 if it was implemented for the 2015-2016 school year instead of next year. The committee is made up of parent and teacher representatives from each school.

The proposed 2014-15 school calendar will be submitted to the School Board for approval Monday, Feb. 24. The Board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway West Des Moines.

Topics: School Board News

Budget News: Parent Forums Scheduled – Be Informed, Share Feedback

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 Please note that the Feb. 17 meeting has been rescheduled for noon on Friday, Feb. 21.

This is a reminder that the West Des Moines Community Schools will hold three public meetings to provide district families the opportunity to give feedback on proposed budget cutting options.

The parent meetings will be held in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines on:

  • Saturday, Feb. 15 from 9-10:30 a.m.
  • Monday, Feb. 17 from 12-1:30 p.m. RESCHEDULED: Friday, Feb. 21 12:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 18 from 7-8:30 p.m.


How can I advocate for a program, school or area or show my support for a specific reduction option?

There are several ways:

  1. Attend one of the meetings listed above. They are being structured specifically to provide information about the district’s budget and the reduction options and to gather feedback.
  2. Fill out the online feedback form available here through Monday, Feb. 24 at 5:00 p.m. (CST) The feedback form is now closed. Thank you for your input.
  3. Email WDMCS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy at
  4. Attend the Monday, Feb. 24 School Board meeting, which will start at 7 p.m. at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines.

Where can I find the budget reduction items?
The list of options generated by parents, community members, staff, teachers, administrators, employee unions and School Board members are here  Budget Reduction Options (page 12).

Who will be at the parent meetings?
The following people will be at the meetings:

  • Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy
  • Chief Financial Officer Paul Bobek
  • Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Dr. Laurene Lanich
  • Interim Superintendent of Human Resources Carol Seid
  • Director of School/Community Relations Elaine Watkins-Miller

 Where can I find information about the district’s budget situation?

What is the timeline for the budgeting process?
The district has been working on the current budget reduction process since October 2013. The final budget reduction packet is tentatively set to go before the School Board on March 10 in order to proceed with planning for the next fiscal year. For more information on the budget timeline, please visit  Budget Reduction Process Timeline 




Topics: School Board News

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Two-Hour Delay – Wednesday, February 5 – No Early Release

Because of severe winter weather conditions, all schools will start two hours late Wednesday, February 5, 2014. There will be no early dismissal per Wednesday collaboration schedule.

  • There will be no morning preschool.
  • No Westridge half-day kindergarten.
  • Full-day kindergarten will start two-hours late district wide.
  • No morning activities or early bird classes.
  • Kids West will open at 8:30 a.m.
  • Busses will pick up students two hours after their normal pick-up time.
  • Walnut Creek Campus: Full-Day Students report at 11:20 a.m.; P.M. Students report at 11:46 a.m.; A.M. Students no school

Valley Southwoods Schedule

1st hour:               10:20am-10:53am  (33 minutes)
2nd hour:              10:56am-11:25am  (29 minutes)
5th hour:

  • A 11:25am-11:51am  (26 minutes + 4 minute passing period)
  • B 11:50am-12:16pm  (26 minutes + 4 minute passing period)
  • C 12:15pm-12:45pm  (26 minutes + 4 minute passing period)

3rd hour:               12:45pm-1:14pm  (29 minutes)
4th hour:               1:17pm-1:46pm  (29 minutes)
6th hour:               1:49pm-2:18pm  (29 minutes)
7th hour:               2:19pm-2:48pm  (29 minutes)
8th hour:               2:51pm-3:20pm  (29 minutes)

Valley High School Schedule

2st period 10:20-11:22
1L11:27-11:57 4P:12:02-1:06
4P:11:27-11:58 2L12:01-12:31 4P12:35-1:06
4P:11:27-12:31 3L12:36-1:06
6th period 1:11-2:13
8th period 2:18-3:20

Topics: Uncategorized

Schools Dismissing Two Hours Early – Tuesday, February 4

Because of deteriorating weather conditions, schools will dismiss two hours early today, Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • The Junior Highs will dismiss at 12:35
  • Valley High School and Valley Southwoods will dismiss at 1:20
  • Walnut Creek and Crestview Elementary will dismiss at 1:10
  • All other elementaries will dismiss at 1:55
  • No afternoon preschool. AM preschool will dismiss at the normal time.
  • Buses will run according to the adjusted schedule.
  • Kids West will open immediately following school dismissal. Kids West will close at 5 p.m.
  • If you are a preschool parent in a non-district building, please contact that facility.
  • Indian Hill’s sixth and seventh grade parent night is rescheduled for Thursday, February 6.

All after-school and evening activities and classes are cancelled.

Topics: Uncategorized

Public Meetings Set for Feedback on Budget-Cutting Options

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The West Des Moines Community Schools will hold three public meetings to provide district families and community members the opportunity to provide feedback on proposed budget cutting options.

The community meetings will be held in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway on:

  • Saturday, Feb. 15 from 9-10:30 a.m.
  • Monday, Feb. 17 from 12-1:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 18 from 7-8:30 p.m.

Meetings are also being schedule for employees. The district’s preliminary budget-cutting package is currently scheduled to be reviewed by the School Board at its February 10 meeting.

More than 150 total cost-saving suggestions were submitted by staff, parents and community members January 2-14 through an online submission form as part of the district’s budgeting process. In addition, building principals, district administrators, the employee unions and the Superintendent Advisory Committees, which include School Board members, generated more than a total of 200 cost-saving suggestions.

A final cost-cutting package recommendation will go to the School Board in March.

The district plans to reduce approximately $3 million each year for the next two years based on preliminary budget estimates. The district is using a decision-making process call Tregoe to determine ways to reduce spending.

Topics: School Board News

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Board Highlights from Jan. 27

District Applies for Teacher Leadership Grant
On Monday, Jan. 27, the WDMCS Board of Education unanimously voted to formally endorse and support the district’s application for the state’s Teacher Leadership & Compensation grant.

The state grant is part of the education reform bill passed by the legislature last year. Districts awarded the grant will receive an additional $309 in per-pupil funding each year specifically designated to implement a system of formal leadership roles for teachers in the area of instruction and to provide compensation for the increased responsibilities. The WDMCS district could receive approximately $2.8 million annually if awarded the grant.

School Board members and district administrators expressed their appreciation for the work of the district committee that developed the application. The committee’s work was funded through a state grant and included visiting other schools with teacher leader systems, reviewing research, and gathering input from teachers, administrators, and parents through focus groups, building-level meetings and an online form.

In addition to the School Board and the teacher’s union, a district parent group— the School Community Network—also expressed support.

The district submitted its application to the state on Friday, Jan. 31. The Iowa Department of Education will announce in early March which school districts have been approved to implement their Teacher Leadership and Compensation plans in the 2014-15 school year.


Topics: School Board News