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Archive for February, 2015

Informaline February 16, 2015

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Leaders Review Budget Plans for Next Year The West Des Moines Community Schools is looking to reduce its general fund spending authority for 2015-16. Depending on the amount of funding the legislature approves for education, the district may need to reduce spending by $1 million. Last year, the administration reported the district would need to reduce spending by approximately $3 million each year for two years. After conducting a budget reduction process last year that included gathering more than 200 cost-saving suggestions, the School Board approved a $2.7 million budget reduction package for the 2014-15 school year. Due to this action and efforts to obtain a one-time additional spending authority allocation from the School Budget Review committee, the district is projected to have a balanced budget for the 2015 fiscal year.

Start Date Expected by Spring Break Administrators have submitted a waiver request to the state for the district’s proposed 2015-16 calendar, which has a start date of Aug. 12, 2015. The Iowa Department of Education notified districts in December that it would stop granting routine waivers to the law requiring schools to start classes during the week of Sept. 1. If the state denies the district’s request or does not take action on it by Spring Break, which begins March 13, the district will hold a hearing and ask the School Board to approve an alternate calendar with a start date closer to Sept. 1.

Forums Set About New Tech Schools Plan New Tech schools, where students learn through real-world projects and all children are assigned a personal digital device. Next year, Clive and Crestview elementary schools will become New Tech schools. Both Indian Hills and Stilwell junior high schools will offer a “school-within-a-school” model, with one team of seventh-grade students learning in a New Tech environment. Incoming seventh-graders will have the opportunity to apply to the New Tech team at their junior high or choose to be assigned to a team using the traditional teaching model. Informational meetings for parents and guardians will be held in the next few weeks:

  • A sixth-grade parent meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Valley High School, 3650 Woodland Ave.
  • A Clive Elementary parent meeting will be held Tuesday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m.; dinner at 5:30 p.m.
  • A Crestview Elementary parent meeting will be held Wednesday, March 11, at 5:30 p.m.; dinner at 5 p.m.

Counselors Offer Support to Students With a counselor at each elementary building, two at each of the junior high schools, and seven at Valley High School, there’s always support available to help students and their parents meet a challenge. Counselors at the elementary level help children take their first steps toward self-worth, personal safety, and more. We asked Westridge counselor Pattie Klein to share some highlights offered by elementary-building counselors during a recent staff-development meeting.

Heart Connection Helps the Community West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) is making a connection — a Heart Connection — the week of Feb. 16-20. WDMCS staff and students are invited again this year to participate in the Heart Connection, a collection of personal care items for students in need. Last year, because of your generosity, we collected more than 7,000 items for our WDMCS school buildings and students. It is now time to restock our shelves! The most-needed items are regular-sized shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and chap stick. Please bring your items to school the week of Feb.16-20 and place them in the Heart Connection box. Items will be collected and then distributed throughout the WDMCS school buildings in partnership with the Booster Pak Program. The Heart Connection is coordinated by WDMCS Community Education’s Service Learning Program. Check for updates on Twitter at #heartconnection15 and #IheartWDMCS.

Students, Parents Learn About College at Forum Valley High School is hosting a college planning seminar and college fair Monday, March 2. The seminar will start at 5 p.m. in the Media Center, and the fair will start at 6 p.m. in the VHS cafeteria and commons area. Students are encouraged to sign up at gotocollegefairs.com in advance of attending the event. VHS counselors Karla Hardy and Eric Traynor plan the event each year with the help of Polly Maly, VHS Counseling Center secretary. Hardy and Maly organize the fair, while Traynor works with the Iowa College Access Network (ICAN) to plan the seminar.

Virtual Backpack Flyers on community and district events, activities, and programs from the Animal Rescue League, West Des Moines Public Library, and more!

Virtual Backpack

Topics: Informaline

Informaline February 2, 2015

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WDMCS First in State to Offer New Tech Schools The West Des Moines Community Schools will be the first district in the state to offer New Tech schools, where students learn through real-world projects and all children are assigned a personal digital device. Next year, Clive and Crestview elementary schools will become New Tech schools. Both Indian Hills and Stilwell junior high schools will offer a “school-within-a-school” model, with one team of seventh-grade students learning in a New Tech environment. Incoming seventh-graders will have the opportunity to apply to the New Tech team at their junior high or choose to be assigned to a team using the traditional teaching model. Informational meetings for parents and guardians will be held in the next few weeks:

• Sixth-grade parent meetings will be held Thursday, Feb. 5, and Thursday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. The same information will be presented on both dates.
• A Clive Elementary parent meeting will be held Tuesday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m.; dinner at 5:30 p.m.
• A Crestview Elementary parent meeting will be held Wednesday, March 11 at 5:30 p.m.; dinner at 5 p.m.

New Tech students will receive the same curriculum as their peers in the district. However, it will be delivered through project-based learning, in which students collaborate on projects that require critical thinking, creativity, and communication to answer challenging questions or solve complex problems. The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved a contract with the New Tech Network on Monday, Jan. 26.

New Roles Planned for District Leaders Several veteran elementary school leaders will take new principal roles in the district starting with the 2015-16 school year. The new school assignments will be for Crossroads Park, Hillside, Jordan Creek, and Western Hills.

“Each of our elementary principals are proven educational leaders who hire and develop excellent teachers and partner with parents to build school communities focused on student achievement,” said Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy. “This is an opportunity to share their leadership skills within the district and to further strengthen our district as a whole.”

The principals will begin in their new roles on July 1, 2015.

District to Decide Start Date by Spring Break Administrators are committed to determining a start date for the 2015-16 school year by March 13, the start of Spring Break. The Iowa Department of Education notified districts in December that it would stop granting routine waivers to the law requiring schools to start classes during the week of Sept. 1. The district will submit a waiver request for its currently proposed 2015-16 calendar, which has a start date of Aug. 12, 2015. If the state denies the district’s request or does not take action on it by Spring Break, the district will hold a hearing and ask the School Board to approve an alternate calendar with a start date closer to Sept. 1.

Share Views on Proposed State Science Standards February public forums and a statewide survey are planned to get public feedback on the Next Generation Science Standards, which are learning expectations for kindergarten through high-school students. The Iowa Department of Education will use the public feedback to provide guidance to the Science Standards Review Team, which is expected to submit a final recommendation on science standards to the State Board of Education later this year. The survey, which is open through Feb. 27, can be found at the following link: www.surveymonkey.com/s/VW6SHDY?c=Iowa_Science_Survey. The public forum for the metro area will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, in the Waukee Community Schools District board room, 560 S.E. University Ave., Waukee. Other meetings are planned in Ottumwa, Dubuque, and Sioux City. For information, visit www.educateiowa.gov.

View District Achievement Rankings Online A new state website, http://reports.educateiowa.gov/acr, provides Iowans a snapshot of how school districts are performing in student proficiency rates and growth toward college and career readiness. The website was developed by the Iowa Department of Education. State officials will evaluate and rank schools based on their performance on nine measures and post the data online. The site currently includes rankings for only these two areas; more will be added in phases this year and next year. Student proficiency rates: The percentage of students proficient in math and reading in grades 3–8 and 11 based on state assessment results. Iowa’s definition of “proficient” means performing at a basic level. Growth toward college and career readiness: The percentage of students who met a growth target needed to be college- and career-ready. The growth measure sets an expectation that all students will make progress each year. The other seven performance measures are: attendance rates, parent involvement, employee turnover, community activities and involvement, graduation rate, college readiness, and closing achievement gaps.

Learn More About School Menus at New Website A new software program provides parents and students with additional information about the district’s food-service menus. Starting this month, all menus are available at www.wdmcs.nutrislice.com. Nutrislice will offer interactive menus for each school with details about nutrition facts and allergens, along with a picture and description for each item. Free smartphone apps are available at the above web address, along with a mobile version of the website. Parents will still be able to print a PDF of the menu as before. For information, contact Brianna Metzel at 633-5094 or metzelb@wdmcs.org.

Career Opportunities in Nutrition Services Nutrition Services provides breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the students enrolled in West Des Moines Schools, in addition to a variety of meetings held throughout the district. If you are looking for a job that allows you to still enjoy breaks and weekends with your children, a position with the district’s Nutrition Services Department may be for you. Current openings can be found under the careers tab at www.wdmcs.org. Openings change often, so if what is currently listed does not fit your schedule, check back soon. Applications are submitted through links under the career tab. Unfortunately, no applications may be taken by phone or email. A background check and drug screening are required before starting any position. We are an equal opportunity employer.

Virtual Backpack Flyers on community and district events, activities, and programs on ACT Prep, athletics, Heartland Youth Choir and more!

Virtual Backpack

Topics: Informaline