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Archive for December, 2015

School Board Approves Cost-Saving Measures, District Remains Leader in World Language Offerings

Tonight, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved reducing district spending by $530,114 from its $150 million operating budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year, as state funding for education continues to lag behind the actual cost of providing services and programming for students.

The largest savings of $197,000 comes from adjusting Foreign Languages in the Elementary School (FLES) from a kindergarten through sixth-grade program to a fourth- through sixth-grade program. An adjustment to this program was first proposed through community feedback during the district’s budgeting process two years ago and was again proposed this year by a Budget Advisory Committee, whose members represented parents/community members, students, and employees.

The adjustment provides additional time for reading instruction, which will assist in the district’s efforts to have all students proficient in reading by the end of third grade as required by state law.

The School Board amended the administration’s recommendation to eliminate Japanese courses for the 2016-17 school year saving $38,600. Instead, the Board approved phasing out the program by not offering Japanese I in 2016-17, saving approximately $9,500 next year.

The full list of cost-saving measures and descriptions are below.

The WDMCS remains a leading district in the state in world language offerings, providing our students an edge in today’s global economy. With the exception of the Des Moines school district, the WDMCS remains the only public school district in the metro area to offer any world language instruction before sixth grade. In addition, it continues to have one of the largest selections of world language courses in the metro area.

The district will continue to work with local legislators on the School Board-approved legislative priorities, which include providing adequate funding to better reflect actual cost increases in delivering education services experienced by school districts.

For past budget-related news, please visit http://www.wdmcs.org/category/budget-2/.

 

Approved Budget Reductions for Fiscal Year 2016-17 (Dec. 21, 2015)

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. Reduce China trip expenses

  • Estimated Savings: $70,000
  • 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 pays 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.

4. Reduce printing budgets districtwide

  • Estimated Savings: $30,000
  • Details: The estimated savings is based on reduced printing budgets across the district.

5. Eliminate Gallup Teacher Insight screening tool & replace with Teacher 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. Pilot holding meetings after school hours. Hourly pay in lieu of a substitute teacher

  • 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 one 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. Restructure Valley High School security contract

  • Estimated Savings: $20,682
  • Details: Valley High School currently contracts with the Conley Group for four security guards. This revised proposal keeps Conley security services, but at a reduced price. The restructured contract would save the district $20,682, which is an additional savings of $282 compared to the original proposed option.

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

  • 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. Phase out Japanese language program by not offering Japanese I in 2016-17.

  • Estimated Savings: Approximately $9,500
  • 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. With this phase out, the number of world languages offered remains one of the largest in the Des Moines-metro area.

11. Eliminate 1st through 3rd grade FLES. Keep FLES in 4th through 6th grades.

  • Estimated Savings: $197,000
  • Details: The district’s current Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) program provides Spanish instruction for 60 minutes each week in grades one-six. This proposal would continue to offer 60 minutes of Spanish instruction each week in grades four-six. This would allow the district to provide additional time for reading instruction, which will assist in our efforts to have all students proficient in reading by the end of third grade as required by state law. The district would remain one of the few in the state to offer a world language at the elementary level.

12. 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. The proposal would allow the district to expand the number of four-year-old preschoolers served, generating state funding. This option maintains current preschool teacher positions.

13. Eliminate Hanover Research contract

  • Estimated Savings: $35,425
  • Details:  The district has contracted with Hanover Research for the past four years to assist the administration with conducting research, administering surveys, and evaluating programs to determine effectiveness.

Estimated Total Savings: $530,114

Topics: Budget, School Board News

School Board to Review Revised Cost-Saving Package Dec. 21

icon_financialThe district administration of the West Des Moines Community Schools will present a revised budget-reduction package to the School Board at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21, in the Community Room of the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.

The administration presented an initial package with 15 proposed cost-saving measures to the School Board for its review on Nov. 23. The measures were developed through a Budget Advisory Committee representing employees, students, and community members.

The measures were then shared during six community feedback sessions and through an online feedback form.

The Budget Advisory Committee reconvened on Dec. 16 to review community feedback and develop a modified recommendation. The modified proposal was presented at superintendent advisory committee meetings, which subsequently further refined the recommendation.

The revised recommendation includes 13 proposed cost-saving measures totaling an estimated $559,214 in savings.

The Board will also hold a workshop at 5:15 p.m. in the Fairmeadows Room at the Learning Resource Center, during which it will review the district’s audit report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.

School Board Meeting Agenda and Materials

 

Budget Reduction Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2016-17 (Dec. 21, 2015)

Budget Reduction Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2016-17 (Dec. 21, 2015) PDF

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. Reduce China trip expenses

  • Estimated Savings: $70,000
  • 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 pays 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.

4. Reduce printing budgets districtwide

  • Estimated Savings: $30,000
  • Details: The estimated savings is based on reduced printing budgets across the district.

5. Eliminate Gallup Teacher Insight screening tool & replace with Teacher 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. Pilot holding meetings after school hours. Hourly pay in lieu of a substitute teacher

  • 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 one 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. Restructure Valley High School security contract

  • Estimated Savings: $20,682
  • Details: Valley High School currently contracts with the Conley Group for four security guards. This revised proposal keeps Conley security services, but at a reduced price. The restructured contract would save the district $20,682, which is an additional savings of $282 compared to the original proposed option.

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

  • 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 Japanese language program

  • 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. With this reduction, the number of world languages offered remains one of the largest in the Des Moines-metro area.

11. Eliminate 1st through 3rd grade FLES. Keep FLES in 4th through 6th grades.

  • Estimated Savings: $197,000
  • Details: The district’s current Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) program provides Spanish instruction for 60 minutes each week in grades one-six. This proposal would continue to offer 60 minutes of Spanish instruction each week in grades four-six. This would allow the district to provide additional time for reading instruction, which will assist in our efforts to have all students proficient in reading by the end of third grade as required by state law. The district would remain one of the few in the state to offer a world language at the elementary level.

12. 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. The proposal would allow the district to expand the number of four-year-old preschoolers served, generating state funding. This option maintains current preschool teacher positions.

13. Eliminate Hanover Research contract

  • Estimated Savings: 35,425
  • Details:  The district has contracted with Hanover Research for the past four years to assist the administration with conducting research, administering surveys, and evaluating programs to determine effectiveness.

 

Estimated Total Savings: $559,214

 

Topics: Budget, School Board News

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Informaline Dec. 14 2015

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Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

Community Giving Feedback on Cost-Saving Measures
Parents, students, community members, teachers, and staff members are providing feedback on 15 proposed cost-saving measures developed by a budget advisory committee to address growing expenses as district revenue declines.

As of Thursday, Dec. 9, there were 188 online feedback submissions, and 88 individuals attended the first five feedback sessions. Attendance numbers for the one remaining session on Saturday, Dec. 12, were not available at the time of the “Informaline” deadline.

District administration and the budget advisory committee will review the feedback to determine if any adjustments will be made to the cost-saving measures presented to the School Board. The feedback will also be provided to the School Board to review.

Based on the current budgeting timeline, the district administration will ask the School Board to take action on the measures on Monday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Learning Resource Center.

For more information, please visit bit.ly/WDMCSFinance.

Upcoming School Board Meetings
The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education holds regular business meetings typically at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines. Times and locations may change on occasion. Updates are available at bit.ly/WDMCSBoardCal. The Board often holds workshop sessions at 5:15 p.m. prior to its regular business meetings.

Upcoming meeting dates are:

  • Dec. 21, 2015
  • Jan. 11, 2016
  • Jan. 25, 2016
  • Feb. 8, 2016
  • Feb. 22, 2016
  • March 7, 2016
  • March 28, 2016

We also live-tweet meetings! If you can’t join us in person, join us @WDMCS.

Happy Holidays!
There is no school Dec. 23–Jan. 1. All district offices are closed Dec. 24, Dec. 25, and Jan. 1. Classes will resume Jan. 4.

Transportation Fees Due Jan. 14
Third-quarter transportation fees are due Jan. 14, 2015. You can make payments at your school or online at www.wdmcs.org/online-payments.

Join Us in Reading “The Crossover”
Be part of WDMCS Reads by reading and discussing “The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander.

Co-workers, neighbors, new residents, and others are encouraged to come together in small groups to read our inaugural book selection, “The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander, winner of the 2015 Newbery Medal and 2015 Coretta Scott King Honor Award.

“The Crossover,” a novel in verse, shares the story of seventh-grade basketball phenomenon Josh Bell, but the book is far more than a “sports book.” At its core, “The Crossover” is about family and growing up and the challenges and rewards that come with both.

Readers will find themselves somewhere in this book, whether they be siblings, parents, family members, friends, teenagers, team members, fans, music lovers, or poets.

The book is available at the following locations:

  • West Des Moines Public Library, 4000 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines
  • Urbandale Public Library, 3520 86th St., in Urbandale
  • Clive Public Library, 1900 NW 114th St., in Clive
  • Barnes & Noble, 4550 University Ave., in West Des Moines

Discussion questions, community-building ideas, and additional information will soon be available at www.wdmcs.org/wdmcs-reads.

Weather Closings Reminder
We want to remind district families about our weather closings procedure, including how decisions are made and how to stay informed. To prepare for the winter months, please visit our ‘Weather Closings’ page at bit.ly/WeatherClosings_inf.

If school is canceled, delayed, or dismissed early because of weather conditions, announcements will be provided:

  • through the district weather hotline at 515-633-5555
  • through the Infinite Campus emergency notification system
  • on the district website (www.wdmcs.org)
  • on the district’s Facebook page and Twitter account
  • through local TV and radio stations

To receive a phone call notification, please make sure your preferred numbers are entered into Infinite Campus. Directions can be found at bit.ly/CampusInfo_inf.

WDMCS Choirs Collaborate with Musicians for Winter Concerts
District vocal music ensembles will feature district musicians in concerts from Dec. 14–17. The four upcoming concerts will showcase seasonal and traditional pieces, and popular songs from Broadway and the radio. All concerts are free and open to the public, and will be held in the Staplin Performing Arts Center at Valley High School, 3650 Woodland Ave., West Des Moines.

  • Stilwell Junior High Seventh-Grade Vocal Music Concert, 6:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 14
  • Stilwell Junior High Eighth-Grade Vocal Music Concert, 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 14
  • Valley/Valley Southwoods Vocal Music Concert, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 15
  • Indian Hills Winter Choir Concert, 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 17

These are only some of the great events happening before Winter Break. Please check the district calendar for information on all district events.

What Do You Think? Historic West Des Moines Survey
The City of West Des Moines is developing a new Master Plan for the Historic West Des Moines area, which includes Hillside Elementary and Stilwell Junior High. As part of that plan, the City of West Des Moines has commissioned a market/community survey that asks questions about the public’s awareness, attitude, and use of Historic West Des Moines.

Results from the online survey will be used to assist in the development of the new Master Plan. Please take a few moments to share your opinions. Help to shape the plan by taking the survey, which is open through the end of December. The survey is available at http://historicwdm.com.

WDMCS Does Hour of Code
Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds kicked off Iowa’s Computer Science Education Week with a press conference held at Jordan Creek Elementary on Dec. 7.

The conference was just one element of the district’s Hour of Code participation this year. Many WDMCS schools held Hour of Code events, and the district hosted an Hour of Code event at the Learning Resource Center on Dec. 10. Students and their families completed the one-hour coding tutorials provided on code.org. Information about furthering students’ learning and study of computer science was available from district curriculum directors.

Participation in the Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week is part of continuous district efforts to increase students’ technology skills. The ability to succeed increasingly hinges on the understanding of technology.

Find out more at code.org, and by following #HourofCode on social media.

Topics: Informaline