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Archive for 2017

Top Five Ways to Stay Informed in the WDMCS

As we start a new school year, we want to give you an overview of the best ways to stay informed in the West Des Moines Community Schools!

1. District Website
Keep an eye on our district website, www.wdmcs.org! You’ll find new information and stories on the front page and tabs, and school news on each school site.

2. Email
Many schools have daily announcements that will arrive as emails sent directly to your inbox. You will also get emergency notifications and other updates.

3. Facebook and Twitter
The district is on Facebook and Twitter! Each school has its own Facebook page, and some are on Twitter. Like or follow us on these platforms to see feature articles, news items, and updates about life in the district.

Some Twitter accounts to follow:

4. Flickr, Instagram, and Snapchat
The Snapcode for the WDMCS district Snapchat account.We are also connecting with you through photos! Check out full albums on our Flickr account, or follow us on Instagram and Snapchat for snapshots of district life.

5. The “Informaline
The “Informaline” newsletter is one of the main places to find district news. It is a districtwide newsletter published about twice a month featuring district news and updates. It provides School Board meeting highlights and information relevant to all families.

Welcome to a new school year!

Topics: Informaline

Update on WDMCS Facility Plan

At the Aug. 14, 2017, West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education workshop session, the WDMCS School Board and district administrators received a report from Shive-Hattery Architecture Engineering Consulting Firm. The firm presented updates from previous board workshop discussion related to infrastructure changes needed to support a shift from the current K-6 elementary model. This included options for the removal of sixth grade from the elementary buildings and inclusion of additional Pre-K programs throughout the district.

In addition, Shive-Hattery presented costs associated with ensuring all elementary buildings included a secure entrance. The Board gave district administration direction to move forward with planning secure entrances to all eight elementary schools prior to the 2018-2019 school year.

The board then directed district administration to develop the framework and vision for a new 10-year plan, which would include community input prior to January 2018.

Topics: Facilities

New Math Materials for Grades K-8 Coming Next Year

WDMCS students in kindergarten through eighth grade will have new math materials next year. The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved Everyday Mathematics 4 materials for students in kindergarten through grade five and GoMath materials for students in grades six through eight. The materials—such as math journals, activity cards, a digital learning center, videos, and more—are aligned with the Iowa Core Standards and offer personalization for students. A snapshot of the approved recommendation is available online and more information for parents will be coming soon.

Topics: School Board News

Informaline—May 30, 2017 Issue

PDF | en español | Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

Important Dates
June 2: Last Day for Students—Collaboration Schedule
Aug. 23: First Day of School

Early Dismissal on Last Day of School
This is a reminder that the last day of school for students—Friday, June 2—will be an early dismissal day. This will give teachers additional time to make preparations for the summer months and next school year. Each school will start at its regular time and follow a Friday class schedule but release students at its Wednesday “early out” time on the last day of school:

  • Elementary (except Crestview): 9:05 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.
  • Crestview School of Inquiry: 8:20 a.m. to 2:25 p.m.
  • Junior High: 7:35 a.m. to 1:50 p.m.
  • Valley Southwoods Freshman High School: 8:20 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.
  • Valley High School: 8:20 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.
  • Walnut Creek Campus: 9 a.m. to 2:25 p.m.

Pay Fees Starting Aug. 1, With No Convenience Charge
WDMCS families will not have to pay school fees for the 2017-18 school year until after Aug. 1. Starting with the 2017-18 school year, families choosing to pay online will not be charged a convenience fee for their transactions.

Please contact the WDMCS Business Services Department at 515-633-5000 with any questions.

Update on 1:1 in the WDMCS
The WDMCS will provide a Chromebook for every student in grades 3-12 starting in 2017-18. WDMCS will also use a new system to help students and families manage student learning next year. All non-New Tech courses will move to Canvas. More information will be provided to families in August. Learn more about 1:1 in the WDMCS and Canvas at www.wdmcs.org/2017/05/update-1-1-wdmcs.

Eat with Us this Summer
WDMCS is working with West Des Moines Parks and Recreation, West Des Moines Human Services, and the Walnut Creek YMCA to offer the Summer Food Service Program from June 6 to Aug. 11, 2017. See all meal service sites, dates, and times at www.wdmcs.org/news/summer-meal-service-2017.

Register for WDMCS Community Education’s Summer of Learning
Are you ready for a change of seasons? The WDMCS Community Education Summer of Learning Catalog is now available online at www.wdmcs.org/commed/programs/youth/summer-of-learning! The catalog includes class descriptions and a listing of all classes by grade level and time period. Learn more and register for great WDMCS Community Education Summer of Learning opportunities at www.wdmcs.org/commed/take-a-class.

First Day of School 2017-18
The first day of the 2017-18 school year will be Wednesday, Aug. 23. We look forward to seeing you in our hallways again! We wish all of our students a great last day of school on Friday, June 2.

Topics: Informaline

Update on 1:1 in the WDMCS

The WDMCS will provide a Chromebook for every student in grades 3-12 starting in 2017-18. Support, repairs, check-in procedures, and more will be managed using the existing systems that were implemented for the district’s New Tech schools.

To help students care for the Chromebooks, the district will provide a carry case for each student in grades 3-9 and students at Walnut Creek Campus. Valley High School students will have a protective shield instead of a carry case. The district will also pay for accidental damage insurance for each Chromebook.

If families do not want their student to use a Chromebook, they can opt out of taking the device, as long as the student has a personal laptop he or she can bring to school every day.

WDMCS will also use a new system to help students and families manage student learning next year. All non-New Tech courses will move to Canvas, which will store all course files, resources, and assignments online. New Tech courses and schools will continue to use the ECHO software to manage courses.

More information will be provided to families in August.

Learn more about the 1:1 program:

Topics: Education

Informaline—May 15, 2017 Issue

PDF | en español | Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

Important Dates
May 22: School Board Special Workshop Session, 5:30 p.m.
May 25: Last Day for Valley High School and Walnut Creek Campus Seniors
May 25: Walnut Creek Campus Graduation
May 28: Valley High School Graduation
May 29: Memorial Day—No School
June 2: Last Day for Students—Collaboration Schedule

New Math Materials for Grades K-8 Coming Next Year
WDMCS students in kindergarten through eighth grade will have new math materials next year. The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved Everyday Mathematics 4 materials for students in kindergarten through grade five and GoMath materials for students in grades six through eight. The materials—such as math journals, activity cards, a digital learning center, videos, and more—are aligned with the Iowa Core Standards and offer personalization for students. A snapshot of the approved recommendation is available online and more information for parents will be coming soon.

Thirteen Resources for Talking About “13 Reasons Why”
Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” based on the young adult novel by Jay Asher, has initiated a lot of discussion surrounding teenage mental health. In the series and book, the teenage characters learn their classmate’s reasons for dying by suicide after her death. There is concern in the suicide prevention community that the series glamorizes suicide and could be triggering, especially for young people.

The West Des Moines Community Schools counseling staff wants to provide all district families with resources to support discussions about suicide, trauma, and the “13 Reasons Why” series. Expert talking points, crisis resources, more information about the series, and other materials are available on our website.

No School Memorial Day
There will be no school for students on Monday, May 29, as it is Memorial Day.

Reminder: New Meningococcal Vaccine Requirement for Grades 7 & 12
The State of Iowa has passed a new law, requiring the meningococcal (specifically A,C,W,Y) vaccine for students entering grades seven and 12, beginning with the 2017-18 school year. All incoming seventh- and 12th-grade students will need to submit a completed Certificate of Immunization with the Meningococcal (ACWY) vaccination to avoid being excluded from school next year. Get the details at bit.ly/vaccine2017.

Congratulations to Our 2017 Graduates!
The West Des Moines Community Schools proudly announces that 678 students will graduate from the district this year. Get commencement dates and times, Seniors Come Home information, and more graduation information at www.wdmcs.org/news/congratulations-2017-graduates/.

Celebrating Our Students and Staff Members
Several West Des Moines Community Schools students and staff members were recognized for their recent achievements at the May 8 Board of Education meeting. Read the full student and staff recognition report, then help us celebrate these achievements by congratulating these students and staff members.

Controlled Prairie Burn to Take Place on Valley High School Campus
The district will conduct a prescribed burn of prairie areas on the Valley High School campus between May 1 and July 28. Safety is a top priority for the prescribed burn, which will occur as weather allows. West Des Moines emergency services will be notified prior to burning.

Iowa Assessments Results to Be Available in Fall 2017
West Des Moines Community Schools students in grades 3-11 recently completed the Iowa Assessments. These assessments include tests in mathematics, reading/Language Arts, and science. Most Iowa districts administer the Iowa Assessments in the spring. Because there are more districts who administer this assessment in the spring, it is anticipated that we will not receive the assessment results prior to the end of this school year. You will receive your child’s results early in the 2017-18 school year. If you have specific questions about the Iowa Assessments, please contact your child’s building principal.

Topics: Informaline

Informaline—May 1, 2017 Issue

PDF | en español | Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

Important Dates
May 1-31: School Board Recognition Month
May 4: WDMCS Staff Recognition Reception, 4:30 p.m.
May 4: Last Day to Donate to Children of Agnes Yarlee
May 8: School Board Workshop Session, 5:15 p.m.
May 8: School Board Regular (Business) Meeting, 7 p.m.
May 8-12: Teacher Appreciation Week
May 10: National School Nurse Day

Equity Update: 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 reviewing several frameworks, the 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 contract with Corwin Press, Inc., for services related to the Deep Equity framework. Read more about the district’s work regarding educational equity at www.wdmcs.org/category/equity.

Transportation Fees Set for 2017-18, Services to be Reviewed
The WDMCS Board of Education unanimously approved transportation fees for 2017-18 at its April 24 meeting. WDMCS families will see a slight increase in transportation fees, which had not changed for five years.

  • 2017-18 Transportation Fees
    • Quarterly One-Way Bus Pass: $64 (reduced-rate fee: $45)
    • Quarterly Two-Way Bus Pass: $123 (reduced-rate fee:$86)
    • Annual One-Way Bus Pass: $255 (reduced-rate fee: $178)
    • Annual Two-Way Bus Pass: $490 (reduced-rate fee: $343)

Find out more about the 2017-18 transportation fees and the review of services at www.wdmcs.org/2017/04/transportation-fees-set-2017-18-services-reviewed.

Last Day of School is a Collaboration Day
The last day of school for students, Friday, June 2, will be a collaboration day. This will give teachers additional time to get their rooms ready for the summer and make other preparations for the summer months and next school year. Each school will follow its regular collaboration schedule on the last day of school.

Tigers Welcome Public to New Field
The newly renovated Tiger Field located at Valley High School provides improved track and practice space for classes and athletic teams, and offers the community a location for outdoor fitness activities. Outside groups may reserve the Turf Field when it is not being used by Valley High School groups by contacting the West Des Moines Community Schools Community Education Facilities Office at 515-633-5060. For more information, please see the full Tiger Field usage guidelines.

Share Your Thoughts on Fine Arts Standards for Iowa
Iowa’s Fine Arts Standards Adoption Team is asking for feedback on the National Core Arts Standards. You can provide feedback through an online survey open through May 12 at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZF7BCQY. Learn about other feedback opportunities at www.educateiowa.gov/article/2017/04/13/input-sought-fine-arts-standards.

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. Learn more about the payment schedule at www.wdmcs.org/2017/04/school-fees-collected-starting-august-1. Please contact the West Des Moines Community Schools Business Services Department at 515-633-5077 with any questions.

Topics: Informaline

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, School Board News

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