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Archive for November, 2015

Cost-Saving Measures Presented, Public Feedback Sessions Scheduled

icon_financialOn Monday, Nov. 23, district administrators presented 15 possible cost-saving measures for the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education to review to help address growing expenses as revenue declines.

Proposed Cost-Saving Measures

1. Eliminate 360 feedback.

  • Estimated Savings: $10,500
  • Details: The 360 Feedback is an HR-related tool through which employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them, such as peers, managers, and direct reports. Iowa law requires teachers receive some type of feedback and a less expensive feedback tool would be sought.

2. Cut China trip expenses and visitors from China.

  • Estimated Savings: $80,000
  • Details: The district hosts visitors from a sister-school in Shijiazhuang, China and sends students and staff to China. The budgeted costs go toward hosting activities and to pay for staff travel.

3. Eliminate printed school district activity calendar.

  • Estimated Savings: $7,000
  • Details: The printed activities calendar is currently provided to district parents and staff free of charge. The estimated savings is from printing costs only. All information is available online in the district’s online calendar. Possible options are to charge for the calendar or sell ads to cover the production costs.

4. Remove all non-essential classroom printers. (Sales Tax Fund Saving for Device, General Fund for Supplies & Maintenance)

  • Estimated Savings: $30,000
  • Details: The estimated savings is based on reduced printing budgets  and removal of non-essential printers.

5. Eliminate Gallup Teacher Insight screening tool & replace with Teacher Fit and Job Fit.

  • Estimated Savings: $16,700
  • Details: Gallup Teacher Insight is an online assessment used as part of the application process. Teacher Fit and Job Fit are similar application process tools.

6. Holding meetings (grade level) after school hours. Hourly pay in lieu of a sub. (Pilot)

  • Estimated Savings: $2,000
  • Details: There are meetings held during the school day in the district that teachers attend. When this occurs, a substitute teacher must be hired to cover classes. This option proposes holding some of these meetings after school outside the contracted hours and paying teachers an hourly amount to attend. This would be a pilot program.

7. Eliminate Des Moines Art Center Scholarships.

  • Estimated Savings: $6,707
  • Details: The district provides funds for approximately 50 students to attend classes at the Des Moines Art Center during the summer.

8. Replace outsourced security with newly hired support staff.

  • Estimated Savings: $20,400
  • Details: Valley High School currently contracts with the Conley Group for four security guards. This option proposes the district hiring support staff to cover these duties.

9. Reduce summer days at secondary level – Flat percentage (10 percent = $4,600, exclusive of Counselors, non-categorical)

  • Estimated Savings: $4,600
  • Details: There are approximately eight certified staff members who work additional days in the summer due to position duties and who are paid for those days.

10. Eliminate planning period for department chairpersons at Valley High School (.125 FTE $95,000).

  • Estimated Savings: $95,000
  • Details: Subject-area or department chairpersons are selected at each building site with related duties. Certified staff members in grades 10-12 receive an additional planning period for this work. This option would require each department chairperson at Valley High School to teach an additional period.

11. Eliminate Japanese.

  • Estimated Savings: $38,600
  • Details: Valley Southwoods Freshman High School offers Japanese I and Valley High School offers Japanese I, II, III, and IV as full-year elective courses. Japanese is one of six world languages offered at Valley. Options would be provided for students currently taking Japanese to complete their studies.

12. Phase out German by not offering German I (.25 FTE).

  • Estimated Savings: $12,800
  • Details: Valley Southwoods Freshman High School offers German I and Valley High School offers German I, II, III, and IV as full-year elective courses. German is one of six world languages offered at Valley.

13. (A) Eliminate 1st & 2nd Grade FLES. Keep FLES in 3rd-6th grades.

  • Estimated Savings: $143,300
  • Details: The district’s current Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) program provides Spanish instruction for 60 minutes each week in grades one-six.

13. (B) Eliminate 1st-3rd Grade FLES. Keep FLES in 4th-6th grades.

  • Estimated Savings: $197,000
  • Details: Based on feedback provided by the School Board at its Nov. 23 workshop, an alternate #13 option is being reviewed. The alternate option proposes eliminating FLES in grades one-three and maintaining instruction in grades four-six.

14. Reduce the number of meeting times for general music in grades 1 – 3 from 90 to 60 minutes.

  • Estimated Savings: $123,000
  • Details: The district currently provides general music instruction in grades one- six for 90 minutes every week. This proposal reduces that amount to 60 minutes per week for grades one-three, providing the same number of instructional minutes as provided for physical education and art.

15. Eliminate 3-year-old general education preschool.

  • Estimated Savings: $120,000
  • Details: The district currently offers 3-year-old general education preschool at a subsidized cost to parents. This option would eliminate the 3-year-old general education preschool and provide openings to 4-year-olds preschoolers, for which there is state funding. This option would maintain all current preschool teacher positions.

These 15 options total an estimated $710,607 in savings. 2014 Tregoe List of Cost-Saving Options (Unimplemented) 

Learn More and Provide Your Feedback

The district is offering staff and the community several ways to learn more about these options and provide feedback. District administration will be available on the following dates to share information and listen to feedback:

  • ​​Monday, Nov. 30, at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.
  • ​​Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 3:30 p.m. in the Staplin Center at Valley High School, 3650 Woodland Avenue, in West Des Moines.
  • ​​Tuesday, Dec. 8, at
    • 12:00 p.m. noon in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.
    • 3:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.
    • 4:45 p.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.
  • ​​Saturday, Dec. 12, at 9 a.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.

Cost-Saving Measures Presentation (Presentation at Public Feedback Sessions)

In addition, an online feedback form is available.

  • Online Feedback Form – The form is now closed. Thank you to everyone who provided input. The feedback will be shared with the budget advisory committee and the Board of Education.

More information about the district’s finances and budget is available here: Budget & Finance

Topics: Budget

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Cost-Saving Measures Reviewed

icon_financialDuring its workshop session on Monday, Nov. 23, the district administration will present possible cost-saving measures for the 2016-17 school year to the School Board.

  • To learn more about the proposed recommendations, please click here
  • For the latest budget updates, please click here.

Topics: Budget

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Informaline Nov. 16, 2015

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en español

Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

2016-17 Calendar Set
The School Board approved the 2016-17 school year calendar at its Nov. 9 meeting, setting Wednesday, Aug. 24 as the first day of school. The full calendar is available online. The Calendar At-A-Glance will be coming soon on the district website!

Dollars & Cents: The Budget in ‘General’
The West Des Moines Community Schools has a combined budget totaling approximately $150 million dollars. The budget is divided into 10 separate funds as required by Iowa law. Iowa law also directs where the revenue for each one of these funds comes from and how the money can be spent.

At $98 million, the General Fund is the largest of the district’s 10 funds and nearly all operating costs are paid from this account. Check out a graph that explains the sources of revenue for the General Fund and what that revenue purchases.

District Implements Project Lead The Way K–5
WDMCS is implementing Project Lead the Way (PLTW) elements in grades K–5 this year. The PLTW non-profit is the nation’s leading provider of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs.

Watch for more information about Project Lead The Way programming on the district website.

34 Musicians Selected for All-State

The Valley High School and Valley Southwoods Freshman High School fine arts departments will have 34 students participate in the Iowa All-State Music Festival at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21, at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.

The full list of participating students and ticket information are on the district website

Social Media and Parenting: #HelpfulTips
Kids may get hashtags, but they still need guidance when it comes to behavior, especially online. Take a look at the social media tips and resources we have for families: http://www.wdmcs.org/news/social-media-tips-for-families/.

Congratulations! Four WDMCS Educators Receive Recognition
Four WDMCS Educators have received recent recognition for their efforts in helping students succeed.

— Kristine Milburn was an Iowa Talented and Gifted Association 2015 Research Award winner.
— Lynda Niffenegger was named Living History Farms’ Teacher of the Year.
— Nicole Crawford earned WHO-HD’s monthly Golden Apple Award.
— Wade Petersen was a finalist for the Iowa Department of Education’s 2016 Teacher of the Year.

Congratulations to these WDMCS educators!

Celebrate American Education Week
American Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate public education and excellent educators everywhere. It will be observed this week, from Nov. 16-20. The National Education Association has selected special observances for each day of the week:

  • Monday: Kickoff Day
  • Tuesday: Parents Day
  • Wednesday: Education Support Professionals Day
  • Thursday: Educator for a Day
  • Friday: Substitute Educators Day

Make sure to celebrate the educators you know next week!

Topics: Informaline

Dollars & Cents: The Budget in ‘General’

The West Des Moines Community Schools has a combined budget totaling approximately $150 million dollars. The budget is divided into 10 separate funds as required by Iowa law. Iowa law also directs where the revenue for each one of these funds comes from and how the money can be spent.

At $98 million, the General Fund is the largest of the district’s 10 funds and nearly all operating costs are paid from this account.  Below is a snapshot of the sources of revenue for the General Fund and what that revenue purchases.

en español

Budget-Graphic

Topics: Budget

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Indian Hills Feeds the POD for the Food Bank of Iowa

Feed the Pod PosterIndian Hills Junior High’s fifth annual Feed the POD will take place from Nov. 17 through Nov. 23. Students are eager to collect food and toiletries for the Food Bank of Iowa.

The community can help feed the POD with non-perishable food and personal care item donations. All donations are to be dropped off at Indian Hills Junior High, 9401 Indian Hills Drive, Clive, during the school day.

The POD will be picked up at noon on Nov. 24 at Indian Hills Junior High and then transported to the Food Bank of Iowa, 2220 East 17th St., Des Moines. Students and staff will follow the POD from Indian Hills to the Food Bank of Iowa for its delivery.

Heather McKinney is the I-CARE service learning coordinator for Indian Hills Junior High and coordinates this event. Service Learning is a program of WDMCS Community Education.

Topics: Students

Board Meeting Update: 2016-17 Calendar Set

The School Board approved the 2016-17 school year calendar at its Nov. 9 meeting, setting Wednesday, Aug. 24 as the first day of school.

Here are the highlights:

  • First Student Day: Wednesday, Aug. 24
  • Winter Break: Dec. 22–Jan. 2
  • End Semester 1: Friday, Jan. 13 (90 days)
  • Flex Days: Nov. 23 and Mar. 10
  • Staff Work Days (No students): October 10, January 16, February 24, April 28
  • Spring Break: March 13–17
  • Last Student Day: Friday, June 2 (90 days) – Two-hour early dismissal

The full calendar is available online, and the Calendar At-A-Glance will be coming soon on the district website!

Topics: School Board News

Informaline Nov. 2, 2015

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en español

Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

Dollars & Cents: Spending and Enrollment Down
The West Des Community School District spent less money than budgeted last year in its ongoing effort to manage expenses as education costs continue to outpace funding statewide.

This positive budget news was dampened in mid-October when the official enrollment count showed approximately 132 fewer students in the district than last year. Each WDMCS student in kindergarten through 12th grade generates $6,446 in revenue, making enrollment a significant factor.

Learn more about spending reductions and the budget committee.

School Board Meets with Senator
During a workshop held Oct. 26, the School Board met with Iowa Senator Charles Schneider (R – District 22) to discuss education funding and legislation. Each legislator representing the district was invited to attend the meeting. Schneider said he understands funding is top priority for education, but also acknowledged that state revenue may not increase as expected based on current estimates. The Board shared its legislative priorities, which are available at http://bit.ly/WDMCSlegislativepriorities16.

Calendar Hearing Held, Action on Nov. 9
At its Oct. 26 meeting, the School Board held a public hearing on the proposed 2016-17 school year calendar, with Wednesday, Aug. 24 as the first day of school. No one made comments at the public hearing.

The School Board is tentatively scheduled to take action on the calendar on Monday, Nov. 9.

Calendar Highlights and Full Proposed Calendar

Join Us! WDMCS Reads
The WDMCS is excited to announce the launch of WDMCS Reads: One district, many communities, one book.

This new initiative celebrates the “community” in West Des Moines Community Schools. Spanning portions of West Des Moines, Clive, Urbandale, and Windsor Heights, the district invites people from all of our communities to come together to read and discuss the same book.

Our inaugural book selection is “The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander, winner of the 2015 Newbery Medal and 2015 Coretta Scott King Honor Award.

Get Started

Join Us for Preschool Palooza!
WDMCS Community Education’s Preschool Palooza event will take place from 9:30 a.m. until noon on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Hillside Elementary School.

Find out more from WDMCS Community Education.

District Expands Healthy Buildings Effort with Radon Testing
The West Des Moines Community School District will conduct radon testing in each building this winter and early spring as part of its efforts to provide a safe and healthy environment for students and employees.

Learn more about the testing.

Valley Top 25 on AP Index, Belin-Blank Center Honors WDMCS Students and Educators
Eighteen students and 12 teachers were honored at The University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center’s Recognition Ceremony on Oct. 11.

See the full list of students and teachers recognized.

Valley High School was also recognized as one of the top 25 schools in the state on the Advanced Placement (AP) Index. The index is calculated by dividing the number of AP exams taken by the number of students in the school’s graduating class. Valley High School, ranked eighth, was among the Top 10 of the Iowa AP Index for the seventh consecutive year.

Congratulations to Valley High School junior Gabriel Mintzer, who earned a perfect composite score of 36 on the ACT!

Topics: Informaline