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Archive for 2017

District to Implement “Deep Equity” Framework

Next year, the WDMCS will begin systemic change to ensure equity for all students through the Deep Equity program.

After months of reviewing several frameworks for equity training and education, students, parents, community members, and employees who make up the district’s equity committee recommended the Deep Equity framework to guide the district’s work. On Monday, April 24, the Board of Education approved a $129,280 two-year contract with Corwin Press, Inc., Thousand Oaks, California, for services related to the Deep Equity framework. The district is seeking grant funding to help offset the expense of the contract.

The services include:

  • Deep Equity Leadership Coaching: Deep Equity Leadership Coaching will assist in designing and implementing equity and inclusion initiatives, review equity-related policies and processes, assess potential structural barriers to an inclusive learning environment, and conduct school equity audits and focus groups to assess strategic equity and inclusion outcomes.
  • In-School Support for Culturally Responsive Teaching Teams: This includes customized implementation visits designed to support Culturally Responsive Teaching Teams in schools.
  • School Board Awareness and Training: The School Board Awareness and Training Session explores the Board’s role in leading for equity.
  • Cultural Competence Professional Development for Support Staff: This invites school support staff to consider how they can transform their schools and workplaces to meet the diverse and complex needs of all employees and students.

It also includes a component for student education, which will culminate in students presenting their vision to the community as a whole.

“This is not a canned program, but is tailored to the needs of our district and our community,” said WDMCS Superintendent Lisa Remy, Ed.D., at the April 24 School Board meeting. She also outlined the benefits of the program.

Read more about the district’s work regarding educational equity.

Topics: Equity

Valley Social Studies Staff Plan Enriching Summer

Several Valley High School’s social studies teachers have recently been selected for various summer enrichment opportunities, including programs on the Founding Fathers and the role of African-Americans and Native Americans in U.S. history and a study tour of Germany.

  • Ann Krois was recently named a Senior James Madison Fellow, one of just 53 nationwide named this year. The Madison Fellows represent the most distinguished and promising of social science teachers from across the nation. Krois joins Valley High School colleagues Dan Kelly and Kevin Neal and Walnut Creek Campus colleague Tyler Maxon as one of just 1,500 Madison Fellows in the country. She will have the opportunity to attend a four-week summer institute on the U.S. Constitution held at Georgetown University in July.
  • Krois was also selected from a pool of 170 applicants to attend the National Endowment for the Humanities one-week program, “The Rochester Reform Trail.” This program brings teachers and scholars from across the United States to focus on Rochester’s 19th-century technological, economic, and reform landmarks. The session examines the complex history of 19th-century reforms and examines the role religion, women, and African-Americans had on reform culture.
  • Melissa Kelly was selected to attend the “Following in Ancient Footsteps: the Hopewell in Ohio” National Endowment for the Humanities one-week summer program. Thirty teachers will gather in Columbus, Ohio, to study the cultural achievements of pre-contact American Indian societies. Participants will focus on how best to bring ancient American Indian cultures to the attention of students while building on that awareness to give students a broader understanding of what these cultures represent in a global context.
  • Dan Kelly was selected to participate in the Transatlantic Outreach Program’s teacher study tour to Germany this summer.  He will travel with 14 other teachers from around the United States on this program, which is sponsored through a public-private partnership of the German Foreign Office, the Goethe Institute, Siemens, the Bosch Foundation and Deutsche Bank.  During his two weeks in Germany Dan will visit Hamburg, Braunschweig, Geisa, and Berlin. He will meet with government officials, publishers, members of the press, teachers, and students to explore a variety of topics including freedom of speech and hate speech in modern Germany, the press in democratic society, and evolving issues of German identity from the Nazi era of the 1930s and 1940s through the Cold War divisions to current issues with refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Kevin Neal will be one of 30 teachers from across the nation attending “Worlds Apart But Not Strangers: Holocaust Education and Indian Education for All for one week in Billings, Montana. Participants will explore ways to make connections between the genocide of the Holocaust and the treatment of Native Americans.  The class will explore some of the general characteristics of both contemporary state-sanctioned and non-sanctioned oppression including the roles of perpetrator, bystander, and ally.
  • Greg Hudson will be one of 25 teachers from across the nation attending “The Era of George Washingtonseminar for one week at Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in July. Participants will explore ways to make connections between George Washington’s era and the present, while learning about America’s most prominent Founding Father.

Congratulations to these teachers, who continue to enhance the Valley High School social studies department through their own learning and enrichment experiences.

Watch for more staff achievements in the upcoming student and staff recognition report.

Topics: Staff Achievements

Transportation Fees Set for 2017-18, Services to be Reviewed

Next year, WDMCS families will see a slight increase in transportation fees, which have not changed for five years.

wdmcs busThe WDMCS Board of Education unanimously approved a $20 increase over last year in the annual two-way bus pass. There will be a $10 increase in the annual one-way bus pass, a $5 increase in the quarterly two-way pass, and a $2 increase in the one-way quarterly pass.

At the School Board’s April 24 meeting, WDMCS Chief Financial Officer Paul Bobek explained even with the proposed increase, the district is not charging the full cost of transporting a student. The district will continue to only charge approximately three-fourths of the average transportation cost per student.

2017-18 Transportation Fees

Regular Fee Reduced-Rate Fee
Quarterly One-Way Bus Pass $64 $45
Quarterly Two-Way Bus Pass $123 $86
Annual One-Way Bus Pass (Four Quarters) $255 $178
Annual Two-Way Bus Pass (Four Quarters) $490 343

 

School Board Seeks Study of Transportation Services

The WDMCS Board of Education asked the district’s administration to analyze the cost to provide free transportation for K-12 students living one mile or more from school. The district currently follows the Iowa Department of Education recommendation to provide free transportation for elementary students living two miles or more from school and for high school students living three miles or more from school.

Based on several assumptions, WDMCS Chief Financial Officer Paul Bobek reported this change would require an estimated:

  • 18 new school buses,
  • 18 additional bus drivers,
  • one additional mechanic, and
  • one additional substitute bus driver.

It would cost the district an additional $1.9 million in capital costs and $789,211 in estimated net annual costs.

School Board member Liz Cox said she questioned some of the assumptions, but suggested the district take the time to have a fuller conversation about how to help students get to school to support their opportunity to learn. School Board member David J. Brown suggested the district review its transportation services over the next six to nine months and bring a proposal back to the School Board next spring for a workshop session.

 

 

Topics: Budget

Grading Practices Task Force Meets April 26

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Grading Practices Task Force will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines. This meeting is open to the public.

Teacher grading papers.

Close-up of teacher’s hands 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, April 26, 2017
5:30-7:30 p.m.
Community Room
Learning Resource Center
3550 Mills Civic Parkway
West Des Moines, Iowa

Outcomes

  1. Determine 4-6 effective practices as prioritized by our forced choice
    matrix.
  2. Discuss and identify professional learning needs for each effective practice.

Agenda

  • 5:30 Welcome and review of purpose of taskforce.  What is best for students?
  • 5:35 Review data from forced choice matrix
  • 5:40 Gallery Walk Protocol
  • 6:35 Break
  • 6:40 Gallery walk
  • 7:20 Prioritization Activity

 April 26, 2017 Full Meeting Agenda

Future Meeting Dates

Wed., May 31, 2017, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Topics: Grading Practices

Learn How Businesses Can Partner with WDMCS New Tech

Sheila and JustinWDMCS New Tech Thought Partner & Business Liaison Justin Miller and New Tech Professional Learning Development Coach Sheila Hudson talk about project-based learning and partnerships with business on the Insight on Business the News Hour.  Listen in!

Insight on Business News Hour Interview about WDMCS New Tech

 

Topics: New Tech

School Fees to be Collected Starting August 1

WDMCS families will not have to pay school fees until after August 1, starting with the 2017-18 school year.

The district and its schools will collect school-related fees, transportation fees, and breakfast/lunch account payments for the upcoming school year from August 1 to October 1. Pre-payments for the upcoming year are not allowed as they cannot be assigned to a student account until after July.

The change will allow families time to complete and submit free and reduced-priced fee applications before billing occurs. The state does not provide its annual income guidelines for free and reduced-priced fee applications until July.

Families will be able to check their fee balance at any time after August 1 using their online account or by contacting the WDMCS Business Services Department at 515-633-5077.

Families may make payments online, in person, or by mail after August 1 for the new school year. Starting with the 2017-18 school year, families choosing to pay online will not be charged a convenience fee for their transactions.

Fees must be paid by October 1. The district will send an unpaid fee notice to families that have not paid fees by this time. If an account remains unpaid after November 15, the unpaid account will be turned over to a collection agency and notification of this action will be sent to the family. All notices will be sent by email to those families with an email address in Infinite Campus or mail to those that do not. For questions, please contact the West Des Moines Community Schools Business Services Department at 515-633-5077.

For questions, please contact the West Des Moines Community Schools Business Services Department at 515-633-5077.

Topics: Budget

Informaline—April 10, 2017 Issue

PDF | en español | Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual 

Important Dates

  • April 18: School Community Network Meeting, 9:15 a.m.
  • April 24: School Board Workshop Session, 5:15 p.m. (at Western Hills Elementary)
  • April 24: School Board Regular (Business) Meeting, 7 p.m. (at Western Hills Elementary)
  • April 26: Grading Practices Task Force Meeting, 5:30 p.m.
  • April 28: Professional Development Day—No School

District to Eliminate Online Convenience Charge, Adjust Some Student Fees
Next year, families paying school-related fees online will no longer pay a convenience charge. All student fees will remain the same as last year, except textbook and nutrition services fees. Read more about 2017-18 student fees on our website.

Board Approves No Increase in Tax Rate
On Monday, April 3, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education adopted the district’s $198 million 2017-18 certified budget and set a steady tax rate at $13.27.

This is the same rate as last year, with no increase. The district continues to have the lowest tax rate in the metro area with the nearest rate 34 percent higher than the WDMCS.

For more information about the district’s budget, visit www.wdmcs.org/category/budget-2/.

WDMCS Teachers Test Student Prototype with NASA
Students and teachers from the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) are helping NASA solve a problem.

They designed a prototype of a satellite deployment system, which the teachers tested in a simulated microgravity environment at NASA’s Johnson Space Center last week.

Learn more about their real-life project-based learning on our website at bit.ly/WDMCS_NASA.

What Do You Think? District Website Survey
We are in the process of updating the website to reflect our new brand. Please take a few moments to answer these questions about the district’s website, www.wdmcs.org.

Take the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/district-website.

See Project-Based Learning in Action!
You have a chance to see West Des Moines Community Schools’ New Tech program! Tours include classroom visits, project exploration, and student/teacher interview panels at elementary and junior high schools.

We welcome the chance to showcase what project-based learning can do to move students towards college and career readiness. If you would like to attend more than one tour, please do! Find tour dates and times on our website.

AnatomyOfGrayPoster

Reminder: No School April 28
There will be no school for WDMCS students on Friday, April 28. It is a professional development day for staff. District offices will be open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For other important dates throughout the school year, please see our Calendar at a Glance: bit.ly/CalAAG-1617.

WDMCS Earns Excellence in Financial Reporting Award
The district has received its 32nd consecutive Association of School Business Officials International’s (ASBO) Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting Award for having met or exceeded the program’s high standards for financial reporting and accountability. The Certificate of Excellence was awarded for the 2015-16 fiscal year. The award confirms the district’s commitment to financial accountability, transparency, and integrity.

New Apparel and Spirit Wear Available to Order
A new web store with district apparel and athletic spirit wear is up and running! Each piece can be customized to feature the district or school logos. Choose “West Des Moines School and District Apparel” for apparel featuring the district’s new logo or “Tiger Athletics and Activities Apparel” for spirit wear with the tiger and the paw print.

Place an order at www.rokkitwear.com/landing/west-des-moines-community-schools/.

Iowa Teacher of the Year Nominations Due April 25
Thousands of talented Iowa educators lead and inspire their students, but only one is chosen 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 2018 Iowa Teacher of the Year is April 28. Nomination forms can be found on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.

Topics: Informaline

District to Eliminate Online Convenience Charge, Adjust Some Student Fees

Next year, families paying school-related fees online will no longer pay a convenience charge. All student fees will remain the same as last year, except textbook and nutrition services fees. Transportation fees are still under review.

Last year, the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) offered a new online payment system as a way to pay school fees, transportation fees, and add money to a student’s nutrition account.

The district charged a two percent convenience fee, subject to a $1 minimum and $5 maximum, to help offset the nearly $80,000 in processing charges from the online payment company. The district will no longer charge the convenience fee.

Fees such as student activity passes, instrument rental, driver education, parking fines, and more will remain the same as last year.

Textbook fees will increase next year by $5 for the regular rate and by $4 for the reduced rate. This is the first textbook fee increase in three years.

The 2017-18 textbook fees will be:

  • Full-Day Kindergarten: Regular Fee $55; Reduced Fee $39
  • Grades 7-8: Regular Fee $65; Reduced Fee $46
  • Grade 9: Regular Fee $85; Reduced Fee $60
  • Grades 10-12: Regular Fee $85; Reduced Fee $60

“When we compare our fees to other metro-area school districts, we do not have the highest fees and we do not have the lowest fees,” WDMCS CFO Paul Bobek said.

School meal prices will increase 5 cents for a full-priced student lunch and 10 cents for a full-priced breakfast. The increase in meal prices is due to the rising food and personnel costs. For the 2017-18 school year, full-priced lunches will be $2.80 for elementary students and $2.90 for junior high and high school students. Full-priced breakfasts will cost $1.80 for elementary students and $1.90 for junior high and high school students. There is no increase for reduced-rate student meals.

The district proposed a $20 increase in the annual two-way bus pass. Transportation fees have not changed for five years. Bobek explained that even with the proposed increase, the district would not charge the full cost of transporting a student. As in the past, the district would only charge approximately three-fourths of the average transportation cost per student.

The School Board took no action on the transportation fee proposal, due, in part, to a request from the Superintendent’s Finance & Facilities Committee for additional information about the pay zone areas for busing.

The Transportation Department is analyzing how much it would cost to provide free transportation for K-12 students living one mile or more from school. The district currently follows the Iowa Department of Education recommendation to provide free transportation for elementary students living two miles or more from school and for high school students living three miles or more from school.

The transportation fee proposal will come back to the School Board at a later date with the additional information about the adjusted pay zone.

Topics: Budget, School Board News

Planning Continues on Renovation of Four Elementary Buildings

Planning continues for the renovation of four elementary next year with construction tentatively scheduled to occur during late spring/summer of 2018.

Shive-Hattery architects have developed preliminary timelines to renovate Clive Learning Academy, Crestview School of Inquiry, Western Hills Elementary, and Westridge Elementary.

The timeline includes creating project designs in May 2017, with construction documents developed during the summer and early fall. The project will be submitted to construction contractors for pricing in the fall.

Through its six-month facility study, Shive-Hattery architects identified these four schools as needing immediate changes to meet the learning needs of students.

In general, this renovation work includes providing more space for Core Plus instruction (English language instruction, extended learning instruction, and more). This timeline offers the best opportunity to receive competitive pricing for the construction work and to avoid disrupting instruction during the school year by scheduling interior work during the summer months.

Topics: Facilities

Board Approves No Increase in Tax Rate

On Monday, April 3, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education adopted the district’s $198 million 2017-18 certified budget and set a steady tax rate at  $13.27.

This is the same rate as last year, with no increase. The district continues to have the lowest tax rate in the metro area with the nearest rate 34 percent higher than the WDMCS.

For more information about the district’s budget, visit www.wdmcs.org/category/budget-2/.

Topics: Budget