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District and Valley Announce Equity Team Members

Two new groups began working with the district and Valley High School on education equity in our schools. The district and Valley High School equity teams met for the first time on Thursday, Nov. 10. The membership of each team includes students, parents, community members, and employees.

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Equity Team and the Valley High School Equity Team will strengthen the voices and participation of students, families, and community to inform district policies, practices, and procedures. They will also build capacity among students, teachers, staff, and administrators in transforming school policies and practices.

The district team will align districtwide efforts to an equity framework, which the group will select to guide the equity work. The Valley team will review school data and align schoolwide efforts to the work of the district team and framework.

In addition, Valley High School reviewed the results of the school’s equity audit to students in grade-level presentations in October.

The district and school used demographic data to ensure the membership of both teams represents our historically underrepresented students and staff populations.

The members of the WDMCS Equity Team are:

  • community members Mandy Abbas, Dan Berry, Brena Corona, Bernell Edwards, Gabriela Garza, Jim Hall, Phil Hall, Claudia Henning, Vicky Long Hill, J.D., Mark Hillenbrand, Byron Jarrett, Henny Ohr, Marshall Orsini, Travis Ourverson, Sanjita Pradhan, Sonia Reyes-Snyder, Michele Soria, and Le Mar Yeager;
  • students Thomas Hathaway, Jamia Jordan, and Angela Wilkening;
  • staff members Mike Beranek, Wanda Borger, Kim Davis, Ed.D., Becky Duchesneau, Janelle Green, Laurene Lanich, Ed.D., Tim Miller, Carol Seid, Lisa Remy, Ed.D., John Villotti, and Paul Wenger; and
  • WDMCS Board of Education President Tali Greenspon and members Liz Cox and Jill Caton Johnson, Ph.D.

The members of the Valley High School Equity Team are:

  • community members Milton Cole-Duvall, Brena Corona, Jana Edwards, Tina Hadden, Del Marion, Victoria McQuerry, Sheila Miller, Eva Otanez-Ortiz, Rich Salas, Heidi Samples, Josh Samples, Jackie Santana, Sonia Reyes-Snyder, and Craig Weatherall;
  • students Andrew Behrens, Savannah Burnham, Jackelin Castro, Tim Dorn, Blake Edwards, Marcos Flores, Daniela Gaytan, Rachel Greene, Thomas Hathaway, Jamia Jordan, Stacy Kabenda, JJ Kapur, Jessica Lewis, Olivia McQuerry, James Meng, Jade Miller, Teresa Otanez-Ortiz, Lizbeth Salinas-Reyes, Langston Samples, and Noah Samples; and
  • staff members Megan Dean, Jamie Ehlert, Kristin Friedrichs, Carrie Jacobs, Callie Kane, Stef Kaylor, David Maxwell, David Meeks, Tim Miller, Ryan Penning, Dave Perrigo, Brad Rose, Rob Schebel, Crystal Tate, Willie Thornton, Piet Van der Meer, and Erica Whittle.

Topics: Equity

Board Continues to Study Moving Sixth Grade, Preschool

Facilities study image: Image of building ceiling with district logo and the words "Board Studies Learning Spaces."

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will continue to study various space allocation options, including moving sixth grade and preschool out of district elementary schools.

During a special workshop session held Oct. 30, the School Board asked Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering to return in December with estimates for construction and ongoing operational costs associated with such moves.

Members agreed that no decision can be made at this time without further information.

 

Initial Feedback Shows Support for Moving Sixth Grade Out of Elementary Schools

The School Board reviewed preliminary feedback gathered by Shive-Hattery this fall from groups of teachers, parents, and administrators at each elementary school. The preliminary feedback shows support for moving sixth grade out of the elementary and combining seventh- and eighth-graders together.

Space Utilization Summary (PDF)

The four main themes that arose from the group discussions included:

  • developmental disparity (the academic or social development of sixth graders compared to fifth graders and seventh graders),
  • scheduling classes,
  • curriculum style, and
  • teacher endorsement.

Shive-Hattery Architect Joe Benesh said there is no evidence that shows sixth-graders perform better academically when grouped with seventh-graders than with fifth-graders. However, the groups of teachers, parents, and administrators at each school reported that they believe there is a difference between the socialization of sixth-graders when they are grouped with seventh-graders versus fifth-graders. They said moving sixth-graders out of the elementary school was a good idea not just from a space usage standpoint, but also from a socialization standpoint. Shive-Hattery Architect Michelle Huggins reported some parent representatives said the district’s K-6 structure is a unique feature that could appeal to some families.

The school groups reported scheduling classes and the K-5 grade span of the core standards are a challenge with the current structure. Teacher endorsements were an initial concern, but it was reported that most teacher certification covers a K-8 span.

 

Feedback Mixed for Moving Preschool Out of Elementary Schools

The school groups’ feedback about moving preschool out the elementary schools was mixed, Benesh reported. The groups from Crestview School of Inquiry, Crossroads Park Elementary, and Fairmeadows Elementary were not in favor of moving preschool programming out of the elementary school when considering the integration of students, preschool teacher collaboration, and the transition to kindergarten.

Space Utilization Summary (PDF)

Crestview reported that moving the preschool program out of an elementary school’s neighborhood to a central district location would be a barrier for families who have limited or no transportation options. In addition, they reported that it is beneficial for preschool students and families to become familiar with the school building prior to kindergarten.

Those schools in favor of a central preschool location noted instruction could benefit because teacher collaboration would be easier.

Nearly all schools were in favor of providing childcare services before and after the half-day preschool program.

 

Upcoming Meetings & Further Study

The October 30 meeting was the second of three special workshop sessions scheduled to review the district’s 10-year facility plan. The remaining workshops are scheduled for:

  • December 5, 2016, 5:15-7:30 p.m., at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines
  • NEW DATE! December 19, 2016, 5:15-7:30 p.m., at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines
  • January 22, 2017, 1-3 p.m., at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines

For background on this study, please visit:

Facilities Projects – Updates

Topics: Facilities, School Board News

Informaline — Oct. 31, 2016 Issue

PDF | en español | Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

 

Important Calendar Dates
Nov. 5: Preschool Palooza, 9:30 a.m. to noon
Nov. 6: Daylight Saving Time Ends
Nov. 8: Election Day
Nov. 14: School Board Workshop, 5:15 p.m.
Nov. 14: School Board Regular (Business) Meeting, 7 p.m.
Nov. 14-18: American Education Week (Nov. 14-18)
Nov. 15: School Community Network Meeting, 9:15-11:15 a.m.
Nov. 15: End of First Trimester
Nov. 23: No School
Nov. 24: Thanksgiving Day—No School
Nov. 25: Thanksgiving Holiday—No School

 

Tiger Field Renovation Update
The $3.3 million renovation of Valley High School’s Tiger Field is expected to be completed mid-November.

The track surfacing was recently completed and striping will begin the week of Oct. 31. The field renovation project also includes:

  • new sports field lighting;
  • new bleachers and press box;
  • new long jump runways;
  • and the addition of two new shot put rings.

Read more about the Tiger Field renovation at www.wdmcs.org/2016/10/tiger-field-renovation-update.

 

Know the Vote
Stay current with School Board decisions by following meetings on Twitter @WDMCS. For meeting agendas and minutes, visit bit.ly/WDMCSBoard or call 515-633-5023. The agendas and minutes of standing superintendent advisory committees are also available.

 

Join Us for Breakfast! Fresh Smoothies & Muffins
Your child is invited to join us for breakfast! On Thursday, Nov. 3, we will serve freshly blended orange-apple yogurt smoothies and blueberry-banana muffins baked at our very own bakery.

We serve breakfast at every school. Your child may join us 30 minutes before school starts for a delicious, nutritious start to the day. Breakfast is $1.70 for elementary students and $1.80 for junior high and high school students.

See what else we are serving up by calling your school or visiting www.wdmcs.org/departments/nutrition/menu.

 

Weather Notification Test Results
infographicen español

  • 15,635 calls and texts made
  • 781 messages sent/minute
  • 100% of emails received
  • 440 emails sent/minute
  • 10,400 people reached in 20 minutes

Thank you for helping us test our notification system and ensuring your information is accurate to assist us in keeping students in our district safe!

 

83 WDMCS Students Selected for Statewide Music Honors
More than 80 West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) student musicians have been selected to perform at two prestigious statewide music events this fall: the 31st Annual Opus Honor Choir Festival and the 70th Annual Iowa All-State Music Festival.

Congratulations to these WDMCS students!

 

You’re Invited to Preschool Palooza!
Join us for Preschool Palooza on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Hillside Elementary!

Children ages 2-6 will enjoy activities while their grown-ups gather information about early childhood opportunities and kindergarten registration in the West Des Moines Community Schools.

 

Profriend Week Celebrated Throughout District
The cities of West Des Moines, Clive, and Windsor Heights proclaimed Oct. 17-21 as Profriend Week following city council meeting presentations by students from Clive Learning Academy, Jordan Creek Elementary, Indian Hills Junior High, Stilwell Junior High, and Valley High School.

Learn more about Profriend Week at www.wdmcs.org/news/celebrate-profriend-week-oct-17-21.

 

Valley High School Presents “Oklahoma!”
This fall, Valley High School’s Performing Arts Department presents the classic Broadway musical “Oklahoma!,” the first collaboration between famed composing duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Read more about “Oklahoma!” at www.wdmcs.org/school-news/valley-high-school-presents-oklahoma.

Topics: Informaline

Join Us for Breakfast! Fresh Smoothies & Muffins

Your child is invited to join us for breakfast! On Thursday, Nov. 3, we will serve freshly blended orange-apple yogurt smoothies and blueberry-banana muffins baked at our very own bakery.

We serve breakfast at every school. Your child may join us 30 minutes before school starts for a delicious, nutritious start to the day. Breakfast is $1.70 for elementary students and $1.80 for junior high and high school students.

See what else we are serving up by calling your school or visiting www.wdmcs.org/departments/nutrition/menu.

Topics: Nutrition

Tiger Field Renovation Update

The $3.3 million renovation of Valley High School’s Tiger Field is expected to be completed mid-November.

The track surfacing was recently completed and striping will begin the week of Oct. 31. The new synthetic multi-purpose field was recently tested for its shock-absorption properties, which tested at an average value of 104.86, well within the requirement of 160 or less.

Tiger Field serves as a physical education and competition space for high school students during the day. Seasonal sports and local groups use the field in the evening and on weekends.

The field renovation project also includes:

  • new sports field lighting;
  • new bleachers and press box;
  • new long jump runways;
  • and the addition of two new shot put rings.

Due to damage to water lines west of the new field, the district will install a new irrigation system, which is an addition to the original project.

The district is paying for the Tiger Field renovation project with sales tax funds, which cannot pay for general fund expenses like teacher and staff salaries or educational programming.

Topics: Facilities

Grading Practices Task Force Meets Oct. 26

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Grading Practices Task Force will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, in the Media Center at Valley High School, 3650 Woodland Ave., in West Des Moines. This meeting is open to the public.

Teacher grading papers.

The purpose of this task force is to address the district strategic plan goal area on consistent, effective grading practices in the West Des Moines Community Schools. The task force is charged with researching and identifying effective grading practices and providing specific recommendations to the WDMCS Board of Education for grades K-12 in the district. Additionally, the task force will recommend professional learning needs for staff, communication needs to students and families, and a timeline for implementation.

For more information, please visit: www.wdmcs.org/category/grading-practices/.

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 Agenda
5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Review from last meeting
  • Report out on “homework”
  1. Research and professional literature that supports traditional grading practices (points, percentages).
  2. Grading policies from other Iowa schools
  3. Employee evaluations (business)
  • Use data to create a “Purpose of Grading”

WDMCS Grading Practices Task Force – Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 Agenda

WDMCS Grading Practices Task Force – Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 Meeting Minutes

Future Meeting Dates
Wed., Nov 30, 2016 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan 25, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb 22, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Wed., Mar 29, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Wed., April 26, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Wed., May 31, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Topics: Grading Practices

WDMCS Taking Action to Address Education Equity

Equity workshop 092016 ewmedits

Race & Equity in Our Schools: Actions Steps for Positive Change

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) recently released its plan to address education equity in its schools. “Race & Equity in Our Schools: Action Steps for Positive Change” outlines short- and long-term action steps the district and Valley High School will take during the 2016-17 school year and beyond.

These steps include:

  1. Establish a District Equity Team—Complete by Oct. 31, 2016
  2. Establish a Valley High School Equity Team—Complete by Oct. 31, 2016
  3. Select a Framework to Focus Equity Work—Complete by Feb. 28, 2017
  4. Hire an Outside Entity to Provide Professional Development—Complete by April 30, 2017
Equity actionsteps slide

WDMCS Equity Action Steps

Details about these action steps are available in the full action plan document available here:

“Race & Equity in Our Schools: Action Steps for Positive Change”

The district and Valley High School are currently working with community members and organizations to assemble the equity teams, which will hold their first meetings in November 2016. Once determined, the teams’ members will be announced, along with the date and time of their first meetings.

The goal of the equity work is to improve the district climate and culture in order to establish equitable practices for all students that:

  • eliminate systemic racial inequity,
  • provide equitable educational opportunities for students of color, and
  • nurture authentic and trusting relationships between staff and students and between students themselves to make a positive difference in how students of color experience school.

To learn more about this effort, including an equity audit the district commissioned from the Iowa State University, please see the following information publically available on the district website:

 

Equity Action Plan (Full Document): “Race & Equity in Our Schools: Action Steps for Positive Change”

Equity Action Plan (PowerPoint): WDMCS Board of Education Workshop Session Presentation

Equity Audit (Full Document): “Developing an Action Plan for Creating a More Equitable School”

Equity Audit (PowerPoint): “VHS Racial Equity Report” Presentation

Equity Audit Presentation (Video): WDMCS Board of Education Workshop Sept. 12, 2016

 

Topics: Equity

WDMCS Making Positive Changes for Education Equity

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) has released its plan to address education equity in its schools.

“Race & Equity in Our Schools: Action Steps for Positive Change” outlines short- and long-term steps the district and Valley High School will take during the 2016-17 school year and beyond.

Find the full plan and other resources at www.wdmcs.org/news/wdmcs-making-positive-changes-education-equity/.

Topics: Equity

Informaline — Oct. 17, 2016 Issue

PDF | en español | Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

Important Calendar Dates
Oct. 17-21: Profriend Week
Oct. 17: Career and Apprenticeship Showcase, 4-7 p.m.
Oct. 18: School Community Network Meeting, 9:15 a.m.
Oct. 19-25: National Character Counts! Week
Oct. 23-31: Red Ribbon Week
Oct. 24: School Board Workshop Session, 5:15 p.m.
Oct. 24: School Board Regular (Business) Meeting, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26: Grading Practices Task Force Meeting, 5:30 p.m.
Oct. 27: End of First Quarter
Oct. 30: Special Board Workshop, 1-4 p.m.

School Board to Discuss Facilities at Special Workshop
The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will continue to study school building needs at a special workshop at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, at the Learning Resource Center.
WDMCS is working with architects from Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering of West Des Moines to explore new ways to use space in our school buildings to support learning.
Read more about this study at www.wdmcs.org/category/facilities/.

Snow Days! Weather Notification Test on Oct. 25
West Des Moines Community Schools is getting ready for winter! To help keep students and staff safe, we provide notifications of inclement weather or emergency situation school closings. We will be conducting a test of this weather notification system at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

The call will come from 515-633-5599 and is ONLY A TEST.

Want to make sure you receive the call?

  • Have an Infinite Campus account. If you don’t have an account, call your school office.
  • Once you have an Infinite Campus account, you may enter your preferred phone number in “Contact Preferences.”

Have questions or need assistance?

  • Your school office can answer your questions or update your information.
  • If you have an Infinite Campus account, you can also use these instructions to change your information in Infinite Campus: bit.ly/WDMCStestcall.

Read more about the test call at www.wdmcs.org/announcements/weather-test-call-2016/.

National School Bus Safety Week
National School Bus Safety Week is taking place this week, Oct. 17-21! To make sure all bus riders continue to have safe transportation, take this chance to make sure your transportation plans are in place for the second quarter.  Second quarter transportation fees are due this Wednesday, Oct. 19. This is also a good time to change your child’s ridership details, if needed.

Remember to thank your bus driver and practice safe bus riding this week during National School Bus Safety Week!

202 Valley Students Earn AP Awards
More than 200 Valley High School students and recent graduates earned recognition for their high achievement through AP courses and on AP Exams taken in May 2016. Find out more about these students and Valley High School’s AP program online.

Congratulations to five Valley High School seniors—Evan Burnham, Cayden Codel, Gabe Mintzer, Arjun Ganga, and Guowei Qi—who all earned perfect composite scores of 36 on the ACT!

Topics: Informaline

School Board to Discuss Facilities at Special Workshop

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will continue to study school building needs at a special workshop at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, at the Learning Resource Center. This meeting is open to the public.

WDMCS is working with architects from Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering of West Des Moines to explore new ways to use space in our school buildings to support learning.

The School Board has tentatively scheduled additional workshop sessions to continue its study.

  • December 5, 2016, 5:15-7 p.m.
  • January 22, 2017, 1-3 p.m.

 

School Board Meeting Materials

WDMCS 10-Year Facilities Plan

Latest Updates on Facilities & Planning

 

 

Topics: Facilities, School Board News