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Informaline March 30, 2015

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Proposed Tax Rate to Remain Steady West Des Moines Community Schools Chief Financial Officer presented a draft of the 2015-16 certified budget at a School Board workshop on Monday, March 23, proposing to maintain the district’s property tax rate at $13.27 per $1,000 valuation.

This keeps the district’s tax rate the lowest in the metro area, with, for example, Waukee $3.30 higher, Ankeny $6.91 higher, and Southeast Polk $8.39 higher.

The tax rate is determined through the certified budget, which is not the district’s line-item budget but an estimated budget maximum that the district cannot exceed. It also calculates spending authority and the revenue sources that finance the spending authority. In Iowa, the state not only provides money to schools to operate, it also tells school districts how much money they are allowed to spend. The concept is called “spending authority.”

Iowa Code Section 24.9 and 24.17 requires the district adopt a certified budget on or before April 15 each year. Currently, the state legislature has not yet finalized its funding for the 2015-16 school year, this is why the certified budget is an estimate.

The district is also required to hold a public hearing on the certified budget. The hearing will be held on Monday, April 13 at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resources Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines. The Certified Budget is available to review at www.wdmcs.org.

Kindergarten Roundup and Story Time Dates Mark your calendar for the Kindergarten Roundup date at your school. Your new kindergartner will have a chance to come visit the school during Kindergarten Story Time or a welcome event.

  • Clive Elementary
    • Roundup: April 9 at 7 p.m.
    • Story Time: April 15 at 10 a.m./2 p.m.
  • Crestview Elementary
    • Roundup: April 21 at 6 p.m.
    • Story Time: TBD
  • Crossroads Park Elementary
    • Roundup: April 2 at 7 p.m.
    • Story Time: April 2 at 10 a.m.
  • Fairmeadows Elementary
    • Roundup: April 9 at 6:30 p.m.
    • Story Time: April 16 at 2:30 p.m.
  • Hillside Elementary
    • Roundup: April 16 at 7 p.m.
    • Story Time: April 20 at 10:30 a.m.
  • Jordan Creek Elementary
    • Roundup: April 2 at 6 p.m.
    • Story Time: April 16 at 10:30 a.m./1:30 p.m.
  • Western Hills Elementary
    • Roundup: April 7 at 7 p.m.
    • Story Time: April 22 at 10 a.m./2 p.m.
  • Westridge Elementary
    • Roundup: March 31 at 6:30 p.m.
    • Welcome Event: TBD

District Offers Educational Summer Fun Get ready for a change of seasons. It’s time to look ahead to summer and all it has to offer! In addition to enjoying the warmer weather, you can plan some fun, enriching, and affordable learning opportunities for your children. Whether your kids need a little extra help in reading, writing, or math, or simply a fun way to expand their knowledge,

WDMCS Community Education provides a wide variety of activities to choose from. The Summer of Learning programs are:

  • Summer Adventures in Learning (SAIL)
  • Art Adventures
  • Baking Academy
  • Band Bash
  • Be the Boss! – Youth Entrepreneur Camp
  • Bricks 4 Kidz
  • Computer Programming
  • Jazz Jam
  • Jump Start
  • Safety Town
  • Safety Town Volunteering
  • Science Exploration
  • Show Choir Camp
  • Sneak Peek
  • Summer Strings
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • Youth Tech Inc.

To learn more about the Summer of Learning, visit our department at the Community Education website, hover over the ‘Programs’ tab, and click on ‘Summer of Learning.’ Help your child find a program that sounds interesting, fun, or rewarding, and register today! Please call 515-633-5002 with questions.

Looking for Junior High Summer Camps? Finding summer activities can be a challenge, especially when students are in junior high. They may want to try new things or use summer to further the skills they already have. Community Education’s Summer of Learning has several opportunities for junior high students this summer. Along with Youth Tech Inc. and instrumental music programs for a wide range of ages, seventh- through ninth-graders can participate in the Baking Academy and Computer Programming.

Baking Academy – for students entering seventh-ninth grade

Students who are passionate about baking and want to improve their skills with benefit from the Baking Academy. The class will begin with basic sanitation and baking skills, then move on to preparing pies, cookies, breads, muffins, coffee cake, and crepes. Students will be able to take a new baked good every day of the camp. No experience is necessary. Bakers should wear long pants and comfortable, closed-to shoes and tie back long hair.

This Summer of Learning class is taught by Peri Halma, family and consumer science teacher, and will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on June 22-26 at Stilwell Junior High. Class costs $98, and registration is due by Monday, June 15. Registrations after this time will be charged a $25 late fee.

Computer Programming – for students entering seventh-ninth grade

Learn about how computers know to follow commands in this programming class. Students will explore the basics of computer programming and learn to provide a computer with instructions to make interactive programs that play games, animate pictures, or tell stories.

Taught by Clint Gentry, computer science teacher at Valley High School, the Computer Programming class will be held from 1-4 p.m. on June 22-26 at Stilwell Junior High School. The class cost is $80.

Interested students can register for either of these junior high summer classes on the Community Education website, or by calling 633-5001.

Top Four Tips for Summer Planning Keeping summertime educational is an important part of preventing summer learning loss, or summer slide. Students who do not continue to learn during the summer often return to school a full year behind where they were at the end of the school year in June.

Keeping summer fun is also important. For many families, summer is a time for the whole family to be together, to travel and take on activities it is not possible to participate in during the school year.

The key to planning a summer that is fun and educational is balancing the two. Learning during the summer does not have to follow the same format as learning in the classroom.

Here are some tips for parents on planning their own summer of learning:

Start planning early.

It is never too early to start planning for summer learning. Keep track of what your child is learning in class, so you know which skills you will want to review. If you can, talk to your child’s teacher for next year about what you can do to keep them up to speed during the summer. Register for classes early, so your student will be able to attend the programs they need or are interested in..

Keep learning fun.

Summer is an ideal time to mix up the format of learning for students. Try different experiments — especially ones that rely on good weather — to boost science skills; let kids help in the kitchen or at the store to keep math skills from getting rusty. Word games for the family can keep vocabulary skills high for the next year. Tailor activities around each students’ interests to get their attention.

Make time for reading.

One of the more significant areas of summer learning loss is reading. Make time to read each day to keep reading stamina up for the school year. Fun ways to keep kids interested in books during the summer are enrolling in library programs, or starting a family program.

Utilize family travel.

Many families travel during the summer, so tie your trips into learning. Learn about the places you visit, talk about geography and wildlife in the area, do travel-themed exercises, and have students write about their experiences.

(Sources: rand.org, U.S. Dept. of Ed. blog)

Virtual Backpack
Flyers on community and district events, activities and programs from the Boy Scouts of America, Two Rivers Martial Arts, and more!

Virtual Backpack  

 

 

Topics: Informaline

National School Breakfast Week Contest Winners Announced

The West Des Moines Nutrition Department held a contest to celebrate National School Breakfast Week, March 2 through March 6. Students were invited to create Breakfast Week-themed artwork, with different activities based on grade level. Prizes include iPad Minis, Nintendo DSs, special treats, having submissions displayed in our cafeterias, and credit toward the student’s breakfast/lunch account. The winners of the contest have now been chosen. The following students will be contacted about collecting their prizes:

  • Kindergarten–first grade: Chloe Knox (first), Isabel Rodriguez (second), Moriah Denhart (third)
  • Third–sixth grades: Elliott Oleson (first), Emily Bright (second), Ria Tomar (third)
  • Seventh and eighth grade: Radha Velamuri (first), Aidan Feldman (second)
  • Ninth–twelfth grades: Maddy Triplett

Congratulations to all participants on their great artwork!

Topics: Nutrition

Informaline March 23, 2015

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Start Date Update The West Des Moines Community School District will ask its Board of Education to act on a final 2015-16 school year calendar and start date in the upcoming weeks. The goal was have a final calendar by March 13. However, as of spring break there were several factors pending at the state level that may affect when the district can start school next year.

The Iowa Department of Education (DE) recently notified the district that it will not respond to the district’s start date waiver request until after spring break. The district requested permission from the state to start school on Aug. 12, 2015, which was approved by the School Board last year. Current law requires schools to start classes during the week of Sept. 1, but the state has approved waivers to this law in the past. School districts across the state were notified in December that the DE would stop routinely granting waivers, and a new process has been implemented.

In addition, the state legislature is still considering several bills that address school start dates. While district administration seeks timely action, these pending factors are significant to finalizing the school calendar.

We thank you for your continued patience and apologize for the inconveniences this delay may cause. Please watch for updates here in the Informaline and on the district website.

School Board Holds Certified Budget Public Hearing April 13 At its meeting on March 9, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education set April 13, 2015 as the date for a public hearing on the 2015-16 certified budget. The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.

The certified budget is the published budget estimate, not the line-item budget. Expenditures are certified at the Functional Level, highest potential level, even though the line-item budget will be less than the maximum. The certified budget must not be exceeded. The primary purpose of the certified budget is to set the district’s property tax rate. Once the proposed certified budget is completed, it will be published in The Des Moines Register and provided on the district website along with the notice of the public hearing.

Valley Hosts Community Forum on Race Relations Valley High School will host a community forum on race relations in our schools and local community on Thursday, March 26, at 7 p.m. in the school’s cafeteria.

The evening will include a panel discussion and break-out sessions. During the break-out sessions, attendees will have the opportunity to provide ideas on how Valley High School and our community can better address and solve racism. The ideas generated will assist the school in developing long-term action steps. Valley administrators will be at the open forum to talk with community members. Members of the panel are still being finalized.

Possible follow-up meetings to be held on Thursday, April 30, and Thursday, May 28, at 7 p.m. in the Valley High School cafeteria to continue the conversation and further develop action steps.

Iowa Teacher of the Year Nominations Due April 25 Thousands of talented Iowa educators lead and inspire their students. The Iowa Department of Education recognizes teachers through its Iowa Teacher of the Year award. In fact, our district’s own Tamara Tjeerdsma was recently named a finalist for the 2015 award. The deadline to nominate the 2016 Iowa Teacher of the Year is April 25.

The award is an opportunity to recognize an exceptional Iowa teacher who is helping to redefine education. The Teacher of the Year serves as an ambassador to education and as a liaison to primary and secondary schools, higher education, and organizations across the state.

Nominations will be accepted from anyone, including students and parents. Nomination forms can be found on the Iowa Department of Education’s website or by calling 515-281-5651. The 2016 Teacher of the Year will be announced this fall.

Kindergarten Roundup The WDMCS is currently taking names for the 2015-16 kindergarten class. Any child who will be five years old on or before Sept. 15, 2015, will be eligible for kindergarten in the 2015-16 school year. If you or a family you know has a child who will be starting kindergarten next year, make sure you are registered for 2015-16 kindergarten, and remember to watch for coming updates on kindergarten roundup and story time at your new school.

Whittle to be Associate Principal at Valley The West Des Moines Community Schools announces that Erica Whittle has been approved by the School Board as associate principal of Valley High School. Whittle will begin her duties on July 1, 2015.

Whittle is currently an instructional coach for technology integration in the Dallas Center-Grimes Community School District, where she has served for five years. She has also served as an eighth- and ninth-grade math and science teacher at the junior high and high school levels in the district. She received a master’s degree in technology integration from Graceland University and a bachelor’s degree in math and science education from Northwest Missouri State University. Whittle is completing her specialist degree from Drake University in education leadership.

Current Valley High School Associate Principal Erika Cook recently announced her resignation effective in June to become bureau chief for standards and curriculum at the Iowa Department of Education.

District House for Sale The West Des Moines Community School District is asking for sealed bids on its property at 2017 Prospect Ave., West Des Moines, IA 50265 with bids due on April 1 and a MINIMUM asking price of $126,500. Information packets describing the bid process and bid forms are available at the document holder at front yard of the house or by calling 515-633-4964.

The house has four bedrooms, 1.75 bathrooms, and is 1,152 square feet on a 9,100 square foot lot. Cable-ready, it includes a dishwasher and garbage disposal, a fenced yard, and a 1,152 square foot partial basement. More information and photos can be found on the district website and on Zillow.

Boundary Update: Confirmation Letters West Des Moines Community School District elementary families affected by the boundary changes for next year and the enrollment reset will be receiving school assignment confirmation letters in the next couple of weeks.

District staff are currently processing the requests received by families eligible for the grandfather clause in our implementation plan. Staff will also be rolling forward enrollment data in Infinite Campus – our student enrollment database – aligned with the boundary changes and enrollment reset for the 2015-16 school year.

Once this is completed, staff will send assignment confirmation letter and information about the voluntary transfer request process. Families will only receive this letter if their elementary student is a voluntary transfer, capped-out, or open enrolled student, or a resident student affected by the boundary changes for 2015-16. For questions, please contact the district at 515-633-5000.

Reminder: Last Day of School June 3, 2015 School was not in session Jan. 7 due to severe cold and low wind-chill values. The last day of school is now set for Wednesday, June 3, which will follow the early-out schedule.

Every Day is an Opportunity to Read March 2 was Read Across America Day in honor of beloved author Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The day offered a special opportunity to highlight the importance of reading, but every day is a chance to celebrate reading with your child. Julie DeMicco, Professional Development/Curriculum Facilitator for literacy and social studies with the West Des Moines Community Schools, provided some family reading tips and resources on the district website.

Virtual Backpack Fliers on community and district events, activities, and programs from Courage League Sports, Junior Achievement, and more!

Virtual Backpack

Topics: Informaline

Boundary Update: Confirmation Letters

West Des Moines Community School District elementary families affected by the boundary changes for next year and the enrollment reset will be receiving school assignment confirmation letters in the next couple of weeks.

District staff are currently processing the requests received by families eligible for the grandfather clause in our implementation plan. Staff will also be rolling forward enrollment data in Infinite Campus – our student enrollment database – aligned with the boundary changes and enrollment reset for the 2015-16 school year.

Once this is completed, staff will send assignment confirmation letter and information about the voluntary transfer request process. Families will only receive this letter if their elementary student is a voluntary transfer, capped-out, or open enrolled student, or a resident student affected by the boundary changes for 2015-16. For questions, please contact the district at 515-633-5000.

Previously: Boundary Change Proposal Approved

 

Topics: Boundary Study

Informaline March 2, 2015

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Start Date Update The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education held two public hearings on Monday, Feb. 23, on two alternate calendars for the 2015-16 school year.

One proposed calendar has a start date of Aug. 24, 2015, which reflects a legislative bill currently under consideration. Key features of the proposed can be found here: http://bit.ly/August24StartDate.

The other alternate calendar proposes a start date of Aug. 31, 2015, which is in line with current state law. Key features of the proposed calendar can be found here: http://bit.ly/August31StartDate.

These two alternate calendars are being proposed after school districts across the state were notified in December that the Iowa Department of Education would stop granting routine waivers to the law requiring schools to start classes during the week of Sept. 1. A new waiver submission process has been implemented. The district has submitted a waiver request for a calendar with a start date of Aug. 12, 2015, which was approved by the School Board last year. Information on this calendar is available here: http://www.wdmcs.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/calendar_at_a_glance_next_year.pdf. The two speakers at Monday’s public hearing asked questions about the Aug. 12 calendar.

The district was recently notified that it will not have a response on its waiver request until after spring break. District administration will be determining next steps and provide updates as they become available.

Board Reviews Student Assessment Data On Monday. Feb. 23, the School Board reviewed the district’s 2014-15 Student Achievement Report, which is a compilation of the results of multiple measures of student achievement in the West Des Moines Community School District. This is the fourth year in which the district has participated in the Iowa Assessments. The Iowa Assessments replaced the ITBS/ITED assessments in the 2011-12 school year.

The percent of students receiving free and reduced meals districtwide continue to increase, and it is currently at 31 percent. The district’s English Learners (EL) population also continues to grow with most of the growth occurring at the elementary level. Eleven percent of students who attend West Des Moines Community Schools are English language learners. This number continues to increase by approximately 100 students each year. Ten percent of district students receive special education services, and this continues to remain steady.

The district met eight of the 17 Annual Student Improvement Goals, which are set by the district. The district met the reading goals for students in grades 3-6 and increased the percent of students in the advanced levels in grades 7–11 in reading. Additionally, the district increased the percent of students in the advanced proficient level in grades 7–11 in mathematics. Science results were similar to last year’s with an increase in the percent of students proficient in grades 5 and 8 but a decrease in the percent of students proficient in science in grade 11.

Junior High School New Tech Learner Applications Available New Tech is coming to our junior high schools next year, and our current sixth graders are invited to join us! The Learner Applications for both Indian Hills and Stilwell are available in a PDF format online. To complete, please download and print either the Indian Hills or Stilwell application, depending on which school your current sixth-grade student will attend next year. Printed copies of the Learner Applications are also available at each elementary school in the district.

Applications will be accepted in person through Thursday, March 12, 2015, at 3 p.m. For Indian Hills Junior High, the first 110 learners to turn in an application will be immediately enrolled. The 111th learner and thereafter will be selected for enrollment through a stratified lottery. For Stilwell Junior High, the first 130 learners to turn in an application will be immediately enrolled. The 131st learner and thereafter will be selected for enrollment through a stratified lottery.

Applications will be accepted in person at each junior high. Please submit your completed form in person to Stilwell Junior High, 1601 Vine Street, West Des Moines, or to Indian Hills Junior High, 9401 Indian Hills Drive, Clive, depending on which junior high your student will be attending next year.

If you have a question about New Tech, the application, or the process, please contact either Indian Hills Junior High at 633-4700 or Stilwell Junior High at 633-6000.

National School Breakfast Week Contest West Des Moines Nutrition Department will be holding a contest to celebrate National School Breakfast Week, March 2 through March 6. Prizes include iPad Minis, Nintendo DSs, special treats, having their submission displayed in our cafeterias, and credit toward the student’s breakfast/lunch account! Contest rules and activities vary based on student’s grade level:

  • K-2: Share your creativity with us by coloring this page for our breakfast program!
  •  3-6: Show off you artistic abilities by coloring this page for our breakfast program!
  •  7-8: Get creative and draw, color, paint, or take a food-art photograph of your favorite breakfast foods!
  •  9-12: Design a logo for the Nutrition Department’s breakfast program. Logo will be featured on our breakfast menus!

If you are not able to print the coloring page from home, please see the office at your student’s school for a copy. Three student winners from grades K-2, 3-6, 7-8, and 9-12 will be selected to receive a prize. Entries will be accepted through midnight on Wednesday, March 11 2015. Submissions can be scanned or emailed to Brianna Metzel at metzelb@wdmcs.org. Submissions may also be dropped off at the Learning Resource Center to the nutrition department, or at the cafeteria in your student’s school during breakfast or lunch.

Valley Musician Attends Grammys A Valley senior was in the midst of the glitz and glamour of the Grammy Awards when he participated in concerts and instructional sessions through an elite program for young jazz musicians.

Jared Freiburg was the only Iowa teen selected for this year’s Grammy Camp —¬ Jazz Session, which drew 32 students from across the country to Los Angeles the first week of February. Freiburg, one of two tenors in the camp’s jazz choir, completed a series of vocal performances and transcription exercises over two months to audition for the program.

Freiburg decided it would be a great challenge to try out for the camp. “I thought, well, it’s a longshot, but if I don’t try, I’ll never know,” he said.

Freiburg learned of his selection in November, and then a package arrived full of sheet music and other material to master before he arrived in Los Angeles Jan. 30. He was required to submit vocal tracks for critique every week until he left for camp.

The young musicians performed at several venues, including a pre-Grammys celebration for the nominees and the award show’s after-party. Freiburg and the other teens were also in the audience at the Feb. 8 award show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

LEARNwest Spring 2015 Catalog Available The new spring 2015 LEARNwest catalog will be mailed out during the first part of March, but online registration is already open. Register for classes at least two weeks prior to the class start date to receive a $5 discount. The discount is automatically applied when registering online. A few exclusions to the discount include all ACT classes, College Planning, online classes, and parent/child classes.

Heart Connection Collection Thank you to all the WDMCS students, families, and staff that participated in the Heart Connection Collection. You donated more than 3,200 full-sized personal care items that will be distributed back to the WDMCS students in need. Thank you for making the Heart Connection a huge success and being a caring community.

Spring Break Spring Break is coming! There will be no school March 16-20. There is also no school March 13, the Friday before Spring Break begins. Classes will resume March 23. Have a wonderful Spring Break!

Virtual Backpack Fliers on community and district events, activities, and programs from Courage League Sports, Junior Achievement, and more!

Virtual Backpack

Topics: Informaline

Informaline February 16, 2015

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Leaders Review Budget Plans for Next Year The West Des Moines Community Schools is looking to reduce its general fund spending authority for 2015-16. Depending on the amount of funding the legislature approves for education, the district may need to reduce spending by $1 million. Last year, the administration reported the district would need to reduce spending by approximately $3 million each year for two years. After conducting a budget reduction process last year that included gathering more than 200 cost-saving suggestions, the School Board approved a $2.7 million budget reduction package for the 2014-15 school year. Due to this action and efforts to obtain a one-time additional spending authority allocation from the School Budget Review committee, the district is projected to have a balanced budget for the 2015 fiscal year.

Start Date Expected by Spring Break Administrators have submitted a waiver request to the state for the district’s proposed 2015-16 calendar, which has a start date of Aug. 12, 2015. The Iowa Department of Education notified districts in December that it would stop granting routine waivers to the law requiring schools to start classes during the week of Sept. 1. If the state denies the district’s request or does not take action on it by Spring Break, which begins March 13, the district will hold a hearing and ask the School Board to approve an alternate calendar with a start date closer to Sept. 1.

Forums Set About New Tech Schools Plan New Tech schools, where students learn through real-world projects and all children are assigned a personal digital device. Next year, Clive and Crestview elementary schools will become New Tech schools. Both Indian Hills and Stilwell junior high schools will offer a “school-within-a-school” model, with one team of seventh-grade students learning in a New Tech environment. Incoming seventh-graders will have the opportunity to apply to the New Tech team at their junior high or choose to be assigned to a team using the traditional teaching model. Informational meetings for parents and guardians will be held in the next few weeks:

  • A sixth-grade parent meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Valley High School, 3650 Woodland Ave.
  • A Clive Elementary parent meeting will be held Tuesday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m.; dinner at 5:30 p.m.
  • A Crestview Elementary parent meeting will be held Wednesday, March 11, at 5:30 p.m.; dinner at 5 p.m.

Counselors Offer Support to Students With a counselor at each elementary building, two at each of the junior high schools, and seven at Valley High School, there’s always support available to help students and their parents meet a challenge. Counselors at the elementary level help children take their first steps toward self-worth, personal safety, and more. We asked Westridge counselor Pattie Klein to share some highlights offered by elementary-building counselors during a recent staff-development meeting.

Heart Connection Helps the Community West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) is making a connection — a Heart Connection — the week of Feb. 16-20. WDMCS staff and students are invited again this year to participate in the Heart Connection, a collection of personal care items for students in need. Last year, because of your generosity, we collected more than 7,000 items for our WDMCS school buildings and students. It is now time to restock our shelves! The most-needed items are regular-sized shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and chap stick. Please bring your items to school the week of Feb.16-20 and place them in the Heart Connection box. Items will be collected and then distributed throughout the WDMCS school buildings in partnership with the Booster Pak Program. The Heart Connection is coordinated by WDMCS Community Education’s Service Learning Program. Check for updates on Twitter at #heartconnection15 and #IheartWDMCS.

Students, Parents Learn About College at Forum Valley High School is hosting a college planning seminar and college fair Monday, March 2. The seminar will start at 5 p.m. in the Media Center, and the fair will start at 6 p.m. in the VHS cafeteria and commons area. Students are encouraged to sign up at gotocollegefairs.com in advance of attending the event. VHS counselors Karla Hardy and Eric Traynor plan the event each year with the help of Polly Maly, VHS Counseling Center secretary. Hardy and Maly organize the fair, while Traynor works with the Iowa College Access Network (ICAN) to plan the seminar.

Virtual Backpack Flyers on community and district events, activities, and programs from the Animal Rescue League, West Des Moines Public Library, and more!

Virtual Backpack

Topics: Informaline

Informaline February 2, 2015

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WDMCS First in State to Offer New Tech Schools The West Des Moines Community Schools will be the first district in the state to offer New Tech schools, where students learn through real-world projects and all children are assigned a personal digital device. Next year, Clive and Crestview elementary schools will become New Tech schools. Both Indian Hills and Stilwell junior high schools will offer a “school-within-a-school” model, with one team of seventh-grade students learning in a New Tech environment. Incoming seventh-graders will have the opportunity to apply to the New Tech team at their junior high or choose to be assigned to a team using the traditional teaching model. Informational meetings for parents and guardians will be held in the next few weeks:

• Sixth-grade parent meetings will be held Thursday, Feb. 5, and Thursday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. The same information will be presented on both dates.
• A Clive Elementary parent meeting will be held Tuesday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m.; dinner at 5:30 p.m.
• A Crestview Elementary parent meeting will be held Wednesday, March 11 at 5:30 p.m.; dinner at 5 p.m.

New Tech students will receive the same curriculum as their peers in the district. However, it will be delivered through project-based learning, in which students collaborate on projects that require critical thinking, creativity, and communication to answer challenging questions or solve complex problems. The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved a contract with the New Tech Network on Monday, Jan. 26.

New Roles Planned for District Leaders Several veteran elementary school leaders will take new principal roles in the district starting with the 2015-16 school year. The new school assignments will be for Crossroads Park, Hillside, Jordan Creek, and Western Hills.

“Each of our elementary principals are proven educational leaders who hire and develop excellent teachers and partner with parents to build school communities focused on student achievement,” said Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy. “This is an opportunity to share their leadership skills within the district and to further strengthen our district as a whole.”

The principals will begin in their new roles on July 1, 2015.

District to Decide Start Date by Spring Break Administrators are committed to determining a start date for the 2015-16 school year by March 13, the start of Spring Break. The Iowa Department of Education notified districts in December that it would stop granting routine waivers to the law requiring schools to start classes during the week of Sept. 1. The district will submit a waiver request for its currently proposed 2015-16 calendar, which has a start date of Aug. 12, 2015. If the state denies the district’s request or does not take action on it by Spring Break, the district will hold a hearing and ask the School Board to approve an alternate calendar with a start date closer to Sept. 1.

Share Views on Proposed State Science Standards February public forums and a statewide survey are planned to get public feedback on the Next Generation Science Standards, which are learning expectations for kindergarten through high-school students. The Iowa Department of Education will use the public feedback to provide guidance to the Science Standards Review Team, which is expected to submit a final recommendation on science standards to the State Board of Education later this year. The survey, which is open through Feb. 27, can be found at the following link: www.surveymonkey.com/s/VW6SHDY?c=Iowa_Science_Survey. The public forum for the metro area will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, in the Waukee Community Schools District board room, 560 S.E. University Ave., Waukee. Other meetings are planned in Ottumwa, Dubuque, and Sioux City. For information, visit www.educateiowa.gov.

View District Achievement Rankings Online A new state website, http://reports.educateiowa.gov/acr, provides Iowans a snapshot of how school districts are performing in student proficiency rates and growth toward college and career readiness. The website was developed by the Iowa Department of Education. State officials will evaluate and rank schools based on their performance on nine measures and post the data online. The site currently includes rankings for only these two areas; more will be added in phases this year and next year. Student proficiency rates: The percentage of students proficient in math and reading in grades 3–8 and 11 based on state assessment results. Iowa’s definition of “proficient” means performing at a basic level. Growth toward college and career readiness: The percentage of students who met a growth target needed to be college- and career-ready. The growth measure sets an expectation that all students will make progress each year. The other seven performance measures are: attendance rates, parent involvement, employee turnover, community activities and involvement, graduation rate, college readiness, and closing achievement gaps.

Learn More About School Menus at New Website A new software program provides parents and students with additional information about the district’s food-service menus. Starting this month, all menus are available at www.wdmcs.nutrislice.com. Nutrislice will offer interactive menus for each school with details about nutrition facts and allergens, along with a picture and description for each item. Free smartphone apps are available at the above web address, along with a mobile version of the website. Parents will still be able to print a PDF of the menu as before. For information, contact Brianna Metzel at 633-5094 or metzelb@wdmcs.org.

Career Opportunities in Nutrition Services Nutrition Services provides breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the students enrolled in West Des Moines Schools, in addition to a variety of meetings held throughout the district. If you are looking for a job that allows you to still enjoy breaks and weekends with your children, a position with the district’s Nutrition Services Department may be for you. Current openings can be found under the careers tab at www.wdmcs.org. Openings change often, so if what is currently listed does not fit your schedule, check back soon. Applications are submitted through links under the career tab. Unfortunately, no applications may be taken by phone or email. A background check and drug screening are required before starting any position. We are an equal opportunity employer.

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Informaline January 20, 2015

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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 needs an approved waiver for its currently proposed 2015-16 calendar to go into effect and is expecting the state to release new waiver submission requirements within the next few weeks. The district will provide further updates on the school start date as they develop.

Iowa Assessment Results Coming to Parents Soon This is the third year WDMCS students have taken the Iowa Assessments in the fall. You will receive information on your student’s performance in the next couple of weeks. Principals will notify you specifically about when and how the results will be provided to you. With the Iowa Assessments, we will focus on the National Standard Score (NSS). This is because the National Standard Score gives us a clearer picture of your child’s growth. We are also providing information on National Grade Equivalency (NGE), which describes academic performance in terms of grade level and month. The Iowa Assessments are just one tool to determine how your child is performing academically. Talk with your child’s teacher or teachers to gather a broader view of how your child is doing in school.

Schools Hold Events to Welcome Families Elementary schools in the district are holding events to welcome new and returning families to their building due to the new school boundaries and enrollment reset for the 2015-16 school year. Some students may attend a new school because their home will be in a different building’s attendance area. Students who reside in one school’s boundary area but have attended another building will be welcomed back to their resident school when space allows. There are some enrollment options available to families who may want their children to continue attending their current school. Eligible families will receive more information about these options after the open house events.

Heart Connection Helps the Community West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) is making a connection — a Heart Connection — the week of Feb. 16-20. WDMCS staff and students are invited again this year to participate in the Heart Connection, a collection of personal care items for students in need. The most-needed items are regular-sized shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and chap stick. Please bring your items to school the week of Feb.16-20 and place them in the Heart Connection box. Items will be collected and then distributed throughout the WDMCS school buildings in partnership with the Booster Pak Program. The Heart Connection is coordinated by WDMCS Community Education’s Service Learning Program. Check for updates on Twitter at #heartconnection15 and #IheartWDMCS.

Help Stop the Spread of the Flu Virus Parents and caregivers are being reminded of the warning signs of influenza in children and precautions that will help keep the virus from spreading at school and also at home. The flu season typically peaks in February and can last as late as May. Working together, we can help keep students healthy and ready to learn. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your school nurse or building principal.

Life in the WDMCS What is daily life in the West Des Moines Community Schools like? It’s kindergartners learning double digits using the calendar. It’s high school Chinese language students vying for scholarships to study in China. Our website feature “Life in the WDMCS” gives you a glimpse of some of the many activities and events happening inside our schools. Take a look: http://www.wdmcs.org/news/life-wdmcs-011315/

Virtual Backpack Flyers on community and district events, activities, and programs on ACT Prep, athletics, Heartland Youth Choir and more!

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