Skip to content
Blog

Archive for March, 2016

School Board Holds Public Hearings April 11

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will hold public hearings on the following topics at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 11.

Topics: School Board News

Recent Cuts Help District Manage Expenses, Keep Tax Rate Steady

​​​The West Des Moines Community Schools’ decision in December to trim its 2016-17 budget by $560,000 may have helped keep its tax rate relatively steady and manage what many Iowa education leaders are calling inadequate state funding.

During a School Board workshop last week, Chief Financial Officer Paul Bobek presented a proposed publish tax rate of $13.37 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for 2016-17. This is slightly higher than the current $13.24 rate, but he estimates that the rate will remain at its current level once finalized. If approved by the School Board, the rate will continue to be the lowest in the metro area. Other area districts are 32 to 53 percent higher. The WDMCS has been able to maintain its low tax rate for the past few years because of the community’s strong property values.

The district’s proposed certified budget for 2016-17 includes an additional $589,558 under the 2.25 percent funding increase recently approved by lawmakers. Bobek said the increase is for regular programming costs and will not ​fully ​cover expenses even with the recent cuts. The School Board ​may decide to use district reserves to cover the remaining expenses. ​​

A hearing on the district’s proposed​ ​$198 million certified budget for 2016-17 will be held at 7 p.m. on April 11 at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.

Topics: Budget, School Board News

Informaline March 21, 2016

PDF

en español

Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

March 21-25 is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa
Learn about what the WDMCS does to prepare students for severe weather drills and the difference between a watch and a warning: www.wdmcs.org/news/severe-weather-awareness-week/.

Mark Your Calendars! Early Out Every Wednesday
This is a reminder that all schools dismiss 45 minutes early every Wednesday to allow for collaboration time. Collaboration is a time for staff at all schools to work together to improve teaching and learning. The following dates are not marked with a “C” on the printed district calendar, but are still “early out” collaboration days.

  • March 30
  • April 13
  • April 27
  • May 4
  • June 1

Reminders will be sent through Infinite Campus and posted on the district website and social media for each individual date. For more information about collaboration and each school’s schedule, please see the district website at www.wdmcs.org/district/our-schools/wednesday-collaboration-days/.

WDMCS Board Cautions Slow Approach to Changing Grading Practices
During a recent special meeting, members of the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Board of Education cautioned district administrators to move slowly and involve parents in any effort to change the district’s current grading practices.

The school board held the second of two workshop sessions on Feb. 29 to study grading practices. Board members read “Rethinking Grading” by Dr. Cathy Vatterott.

Read about the first meeting.
Read about the second meeting.

District Sells Former Walnut Creek Campus Building
On March 8, the West Des Moines Community Schools finalized the sale of the former Walnut Creek Campus building at 815 8th Street in West Des Moines to the Imani Family Church for $500,000.

Learn more about the sale.

Iowa Teacher of the Year Nominations Due April 25
Thousands of talented Iowa educators lead and inspire their students, but only one is chosen annually as the Iowa Teacher of the Year. The annual award is an opportunity to recognize an exceptional Iowa teacher who is helping to redefine education. Anyone can nominate a teacher who is making a difference.

The deadline to nominate the 2017 Iowa Teacher of the Year is April 25. Nomination forms can be found on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.

Read about Jordan Creek and Westridge Assistant Principal Tamara Tjeerdsma and Valley Southwoods teacher Wade Petersen, who were both finalists for the award.

You’re Invited! WDMCS Reads Author Visit and Book Signing
The West Des Moines Community Schools invites the community to a presentation and book signing by “The Crossover” author, Kwame Alexander, at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 31, in the Staplin Performing Arts Center, Valley High School, 3650 Woodland Avenue, West Des Moines. This event is free and open to the public. Alexander will also be meeting with students on Friday, April 1.

Read more about WDMCS Reads, “The Crossover,” and Alexander’s visit to the district.

Fourth-Quarter Transportation Fees Due March 29
Fourth-quarter transportation fees are due March 29, 2016. You can make payments at your school or at www.wdmcs.org/online-payments.

2016-17 Tiger Cubs Registration — 4-Year-Old Program
There is still time to register your child for Tiger Cubs Preschool, the district’s preschool program. Tiger Cubs provides opportunities for children to develop important learning skills. Placements are available at Clive (both sessions) and at Crestview, Westridge and Jordan Creek (afternoon sessions). Fairmeadows and Western Hills are currently full with a short waitlist. You may register your student online at http://bit.ly/1R42mG7.

Summer Opportunities
The West Des Moines Community Schools offers several opportunities for students and families during the summer months. Register for Summer Enrichment Adventures or WDMCS Community Education’s Summer of Learning.

Virtual Backpack Update and New Flyers
WDMCS is now happy to bring the Virtual Backpack right to your inbox! An Infinite Campus message with direct links to each flyer will be sent out on Mondays opposite the “Informaline” district newsletter. Make sure you watch for the messages to see all the valuable opportunities the district and community have to offer you and your family.

Topics: Informaline

District Sells Former Walnut Creek Campus Building

On March 8, the West Des Moines Community Schools finalized the sale of the former Walnut Creek Campus building at 815 8th Street in West Des Moines to the Imani Family Church for $500,000.

The building was originally built as a church and was purchased by the school district in 1999 to house the district’s expanding alternative high school.

Except for a few temporary tenants, the building has been empty since 2012 when Walnut Creek Campus moved to its new location at 1020 8th Street.

According to state law, proceeds from the sale can only be used for building renovations and other facility projects, and cannot be used for district operating expenses.

 

Topics: School Board News

WDMCS Board Cautions Slow Approach to Changing Grading Practices

During a recent special meeting, members of the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Board of Education cautioned district administrators to move slowly and involve parents in any effort to change the district’s current grading practices.

Book CoverThe school board held the second of two workshop sessions on February 29 to study grading practices. Board members read “Rethinking Grading” by Dr. Cathy Vatterott, which examines traditional grading practices and presents effective methods for standards-based learning and assessment.

“Parents need to be a huge part of it from the beginning,” said School Board Member Tali Greenspon, noting the opposition other districts faced when trying to change practices. Her comment was echoed by several other Board members, who suggested that the district establish a task force to study the topic.  

According to a survey of other area school districts, Des Moines, Waukee, Ankeny, Dallas Center-Grimes, and Van Meter are implementing standards-based grading at some level, while Johnston and Urbandale have started conversations.

The administration will review the district’s plan to study research-based best practices in effective grading and report back to the School Board at a later date.

Topics: Grading Practices, School Board News