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Monday, January 19, 2015

District Seeks Guidelines for School Start Date

The date for the start of the 2015-16 school year remains unknown due to the state’s recent announcement that it will no longer automatically allow districts to begin school in mid- to early August.

The Iowa Department of Education notified districts in December that it will stop granting routine waivers to the law requiring schools to start classes during the week of Sept.1.

The district is expecting the state to release new waiver submission requirements within the next few weeks.

The district needs an approved waiver for its currently proposed 2015-16 calendar to go into effect. On May 12, 2014, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved a 2015-16 calendar with a start date of Aug. 12, 2015.

While they await news from the state, district administrators are drafting an alternate calendar with a start date closer to Sept. 1. This would provide another option to pursue should the district determine the new waiver requirements cannot be met or that the approval process would extend into March, further reducing the time families and the district have to plan for next year. The alternate calendar and start date have not been finalized.

Once the information from the state has been reviewed, the district will determine whether or not it will seek a waiver for a start date of Aug. 12 or seek school board approval of a calendar with a start date closer to Sept. 1. District administration’s goal is to have a decision about the start date before spring break.

Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy and School Board President David Brown have submitted a letter to Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa Department of Education Director Brad Buck advocating for local school boards — not the state — to have the authority to set school start dates for local school communities.

The district will provide further updates on the school start date as they develop.