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Informaline—Jan. 17, 2017 Issue

PDF | en español | Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

What Do You Think? Informaline Survey
The School/Community Relations Office wants your input! Please let us know if the Informaline district newsletter is helpful for you and your family by taking this short survey: bit.ly/IL_Survey.

Important Dates
Jan. 17: School Community Network Meeting, 9:15 a.m.
Jan. 17: School Improvement Advisory Committee Meeting, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 19: SAPCC Meeting, 7:30 a.m.
Jan. 22: School Board Special Workshop Session, 1 p.m.
Jan. 23: School Board Workshop Session, 5:15 p.m.
Jan. 23: School Board Regular (Business) Meeting, 7 p.m.
Jan. 25: Grading Practices Task Force Meeting, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 26: Impact of Art, 6:30 p.m.

District Equity Team to Select a Guiding Structure for Equity Work
A team of students, parents, community members, and West Des Moines Community Schools employees are close to selecting a guiding structure for the district’s work to ensure equity for students. Learn more at bit.ly/equity-jan17.

Transportation Fees Due Jan. 10
Third-quarter transportation fees were due Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. You can still make payments at your school or online at www.wdmcs.org/online-payments.

This is also a good time to change your child’s bus ridership details if needed. Please complete and submit the “Make Change to Current Ridership” form at www.wdmcs.org/departments/transportation or contact the Transportation Department at 515-633-4902.

School Board Reviews Second Phase of Facilities Study
At a special meeting in December, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education reviewed the findings of the second phase of an elementary school space utilization study by architects at Shive-Hattery. Find out more about each option at bit.ly/facilities-jan17.

Kindergarten Enrollment Open Today!
Kindergarten is a big adventure in life’s journey. We will be right beside your family every step of the way. Start your child’s kindergarten adventure with the WDMCS at bit.ly/WDMCS_K!

Stay Warm with WDMCS Activities This Winter
Avoid the chilly winter weather with family-friendly indoor activity options from the West Des Moines Community Schools! Keep an eye on the online calendar at bit.ly/WDMCS_Cal to stay up-to-date with districtwide and school activities. Upcoming events include opportunities to cheer on the Tigers, experience the arts, and be true to your school.

Students, Staff Recognized by Board for Outstanding Achievements
The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education recognized the outstanding achievements of district students and staff at its meeting on Monday, Jan. 9. Read the full Student and Staff Recognition report at bit.ly/2idykJO.

Try Something New: WDMCS Community Ed. Registration Open!
The new LEARNwest and Adventure catalogs are here! Try something new in 2017!

  • LEARNwest offers a wide range of classes for adults who want to expand their skills, make everyday life better, and try something new. LEARNwest classes are offered evenings and weekends. Learn about class options at bit.ly/LEARNwest-jan17.
  • Adventures provides a way for students in grades K-9 to expand their knowledge or skills in an area of interest and try something beyond the classes they have during the school day. Classes take place after school, in the evenings, and on the weekends. Find Adventures opportunities at bit.ly/Adventures-jan17.

Valley Students Perform in Second Annual “Opera Project DSM” Production, “Cavalleria rusticana”
The Valley High School Performing Arts Department is partnering with The Opera Project DSM for the second year in a row for a production of Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria rusticana.” The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) will host the performances in the Staplin Performing Arts Center, 3650 Woodland Ave., West Des Moines. There will be performances at 8 p.m. on Jan. 21 and 3 p.m. on Jan. 22. Both performances are open to the public and free of charge. Learn more about Valley students’ involvement in the production at bit.ly/Opera17.

Topics: Informaline

School Board Reviews Second Phase of Facilities Study

At a special meeting in December, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education reviewed the findings of the second phase of an elementary school space utilization study by architects at Shive-Hattery.

The architects further studied how the possible removal of sixth grade and preschool from the elementary schools would affect building space availability and usage. The study also focused on the viability of removing media centers and computer labs, contingent on providing computer devices for each student.

Based on interviews with the leadership teams, teaching staff, and parents from each of the elementary schools, as well as junior high administrators, the architects presented a brief summary of the findings for each school. Those findings included information on the redistribution of areas at each building.

Estimated construction and operational costs were also provided for three different options:

  • Option 1—Relocate Sixth Grade: Provide for Core Plus space, provide secure entrances for elementary and junior high schools, sixth grade moves out of elementary, new 8/9 grade site with shop/makerspace and field house would be $83.8 million with $1.15 million ongoing operational costs.
  • Option 2—Sixth Grade Remains: Secure entries, flex spaces, and renovations would be $53.5 million with $389,015 ongoing operational costs
  • Option 3—Add Flex Space to Existing Elementaries: additional square footage for flex space would be $82.4 million with $650,645 ongoing operational costs.

It was also noted that a new preschool center would be an estimated $9.34 million in construction costs and $1.0 million in operational costs.

The next step is to compare these estimates with the district’s 10-Year Facilities Plan budget. For more information and background on the district’s facilities plan, please visit www.wdmcs.org/category/facilities/.

Topics: Facilities

District Equity Team to Select a Guiding Structure for Equity Work

A team of students, parents, community members, and West Des Moines Community Schools employees are close to selecting a guiding structure for the district’s work to ensure equity for students.

Since November, the West Des Moines Community Schools Equity Team has studied five frameworks that will guide the district as it addresses equity through professional development, leadership development, student relations, and curriculum. The selected framework will also help the district evaluate the effectiveness of its work.

“The most important work we have this year is to select a framework because it will guide all subsequent decisions [regarding equity],” said WDMCS Superintendent Lisa Remy, Ed.D., at a School Board workshop in September.

The team is studying the Anti-Racist Education, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, Cross-Cultural Competence, Deep Equity, and Equity Pedagogy frameworks. Articles about each framework are available below.

Four of the frameworks were recommended by Iowa State University in its equity audit of Valley High School.

According to the district’s “Race & Equity in Our Schools: Action Steps for Positive Change,” the team will select a framework by Feb. 28, 2017.

For more information and background on the district’s equity work, please visit www.wdmcs.org/category/equity/.

Topics: Equity

District’s Operating Budget Outlook Solid for 2017-18

West Des Moines Community Schools CFO Paul Bobek reported to the School Board in December that the district ended its 2016 fiscal year with increases in its general fund and unspent spending-authority balance.

Given these two conditions, the administration will not recommend a formal budget reduction process for the 2018 fiscal year.

In March, the district administration will conduct its regular staffing process for the 2017-18 school year. This annual administrative process may result in either adding or reducing staff based on student enrollment in programs, courses, or grade levels. The Administrative Services department will also continue meeting with administrators with budgetary responsibilities to review individual budgets.

The fund balance and unspent balance are two key indicators of budget health. The general fund balance increased by $4.7 million and the unspent balance increased by $2.9 million. The unspent balance relates to a district’s legal authority to spend money measured in dollars. The unspent balance is the leftover spending authority at the end of the fiscal year.

Bobek said the increases were the result of the district spending fewer state categorical fund dollars. Categorical funding comes from the state and is targeted for particular categories of students, special programs, or special purposes and has restrictions on its use. Another factor was the reallocation of property tax levy money from the district’s management fund to its general fund.

School Board Workshop Agenda (12-12-2016): Audit and Budget Report

Topics: Budget

Informaline—Dec. 19 Issue

PDF | en español | Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

Important Dates
Dec. 19: School Board Workshop Session, 5:15 p.m.
Dec. 22-Jan. 2: Winter Break
Jan. 3: Classes Resume
Jan. 10: Transportation Fees Due
Jan. 13: End of First Semester and Second Quarter
Jan. 16: Professional Development Day–No School

2017-18 Calendar Approved
The WDMCS Board of Education approved a calendar for the 2017-18 school year at its Dec. 19 meeting, setting Wednesday, Aug. 23, as the first day of school.

Find the highlights and the full calendar online, and watch for the calendar at a glance, coming soon on the district website!

Board Declares Support for Promise of Iowa Campaign
West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education is joining school boards, families, and communities across the state to rally support for public education.

The Board passed a resolution supporting the Promise of Iowa Public Education Campaign at its regular business meeting on Monday, Dec. 19. The Iowa Association of School Boards is coordinating this statewide effort to focus attention on the future of Iowa public school students and to garner support for investing in public education in Iowa.

Read the resolution at bit.ly/2gsQy7O. Find out more about the Promise of Iowa campaign at www.promiseiowa.org/.

Transportation Fees Due Jan. 10
Third-quarter transportation fees are due Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. You can make payments at your school or online at www.wdmcs.org/online-payments.

This is also a good time to change your child’s bus ridership details. Visit www.wdmcs.org/departments/transportation if you need to make changes. You can also contact the Transportation Department at 515-633-4902.

Enjoy Winter Break!
Winter break begins after school this Wednesday, Dec. 21. There will be no school Dec. 22–Jan. 2. All district offices are closed Dec. 23-26, and Jan. 2. Classes will resume Jan. 3. Enjoy your winter break!

What’s the Purpose of Grades? Task Force Clarifies
Members of the WDMCS Effective Grading Practices Task Force have defined why students in our schools receive grades.

“The purpose of grades is to communicate the level of achievement of course standards to students and parents,” according to a statement the task force approved at its meeting on November 30.

To learn more about the purpose of grades and the task force’s work, please visit www.wdmcs.org/category/grading-practices. Meeting minutes and summaries will continue to be posted there. All meetings are open to the public.

School Board to Continue Facilities Discussion at Special Workshop
The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will continue to study various space allocation options at a special workshop session at 5:15 p.m., Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.

For more information on the special workshop and the facilities study, please visit www.wdmcs.org/category/facilities.

Read “Blank Tales,” the Magazine Run by Valley Students
The first issue of “Blank Tales” magazine’s second edition is now available! The Valley High School student-run magazine is dedicated to increasing action towards ending homelessness. To read “Blank Tales, visit www.blanktales.org. You can also subscribe to the “Blank Tales” e-newsletter and get hard copies of the magazine at Valley High School, the West Des Moines Public Library, and local businesses.

WDMCS Superintendent & Board Members Honored for Excellence
West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Superintendent Lisa Remy, Ed.D., and three WDMCS Board of Education members received awards at the Iowa Association of School Boards’ (IASB) 71st Annual Convention on Nov. 17.

Board Vice President Melinda Dunnwald and Board members Elizabeth Brennan and Vicky Poole, Ed.D., were honored with Individual Awards of Achievement this year. Dunnwald also received a Basics of Boardsmanship certificate. Remy received the Better Boardsmanship Superintendent’s Award of Honor.

Read more about these awards online. Find out more about the WDMCS Board of Education on our district website at www.wdmcs.org/district/our-schoolboard/.

WDMCS Expands Online Learning Opportunities
The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) will be offering our highest number of online learning opportunities yet for the 2017-18 school year. The district offers several online courses for grades 9-12 at this time, and provides an online learning approach called “blended learning” to fully support and guide students. Learn about blended learning and the courses available for the 2017-18 school year at www.wdmcs.org/school-news/blended-learning-part-i.

Watch the “Informaline” newsletter, the West Des Moines Community Schools website, and district social media for the rest of our three-part series on blended learning.

Topics: Informaline

What’s the Purpose of Grades? Task Force Clarifies

Members of the WDMCS Effective Grading Practices Task Force have defined why students in our schools receive grades.

“The purpose of grades is to communicate the level of achievement of course standards to students and parents,” according to a statement the task force approved at its meeting on November 30.

WDMCS Superintendent Lisa Remy, Ed.D. said clarifying the purpose of grading helps the task force in its work to research, identify, and recommend effective grading practices for the district.

Members of the task force developed several versions, which were narrowed down to two. They then voted on two statements with 29 out of 31 task force members present supporting the approved purpose statement.

The next Effective Grading Practices meeting will be held on at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines. To stay up-to-date with the task force’s work, please visit www.wdmcs.org/category/grading-practices/. Meeting minutes and summaries will continue to be posted there. All meetings are open to the public.

Topics: Grading Practices

School Board to Continue Facilities Discussion at Special Workshop

Facilities study image 2aThe 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, at a special workshop session at 5:15 p.m., Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.

Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering will present estimates for construction and ongoing operational costs associated with the space allocation options.

The meeting agenda is available at http://bit.ly/WDMCSBoardMeetings.

An additional workshop is scheduled for Jan. 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 www.wdmcs.org/category/facilities.

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Topics: Facilities

Board Declares Support for Promise of Iowa Campaign

West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education is joining school boards, families, and communities across the state to rally support for public education.

The Board passed a  resolution supporting the Promise of Iowa Public Education Campaign at its regular business meeting on Monday, Dec. 19. The Iowa Association of School Boards is coordinating this statewide effort to focus attention on the future of Iowa public school students and to garner support for investing in public education in Iowa.

Read the resolution at bit.ly/2gsQy7O. Find out more about the Promise of Iowa campaign at www.promiseiowa.org/.

Topics: School Board News

WDMCS Superintendent, Board Members Honored for Excellence

West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Superintendent Lisa Remy, Ed.D., and three WDMCS Board of Education members received awards at the Iowa Association of School Boards’ (IASB) 71st Annual Convention on Nov. 17.

Board Vice President Melinda Dunnwald and Board members Elizabeth Brennan and Vicky Poole, Ed.D., were honored with Individual Awards of Achievement this year. They earned their awards by strengthening their boardsmanship abilities through the IASB Boardsmanship Awards program. This acclaimed award was presented to 103 local school, AEA and community college board members.

“These board members have shown dedication and commitment to professional growth, to ensure they are prepared to make a difference at the board table and for students,” said IASB Board President Amy Jurrens.

Remy received the Better Boardsmanship Superintendent’s Award of Honor. Superintendents can earn this award by completing the eligibility requirements and having at least two board members in the district who have earned Individual Award of Achievement certificates.

Dunnwald also received a Basics of Boardsmanship certificate. She earned the certificate by completing four components focused on essential board learning concepts through IASB’s Basics of Boardsmanship program. This is the first year this awards program has been offered to IASB members.

The WDMCS Board of Education is made up of seven individuals elected at-large by residents of our district community. The members represent the parents and citizens of our community, set policy for the school district, determine the operational efficiency of the schools, and more. Find out more about the WDMCS Board of Education at www.wdmcs.org/district/our-school-board/.

Topics: School Board News, Staff Achievements, Superintendent

Informaline — Dec. 5 Issue

PDF | en español | Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

Important Calendar Dates
Dec. 12: School Board Workshop Session, 5:15 p.m.
Dec. 12: School Board Regular (Business) Meeting, 7 p.m.
Dec. 19: Special School Board Workshop Session, 5:15 p.m.
Dec. 22-Jan. 2: Winter Break
Jan. 3: Classes Resume

Board to Take Action on Calendar, Program of Studies Dec. 12
The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Board of Education will take action on two proposed 2017-18 calendars and 26 program of studies proposals at its Dec. 12 meeting.

The Board held public hearings for the proposed calendars at the regular meeting on Nov. 28. The Teaching & Learning Services Department presented the program of studies proposals at the Nov. 28 workshop meeting. Find more information about the calendars and the proposals here.

WDMCS Celebrates Computer Science Education Week
When students see what they can create with computer science, they are excited and empowered to keep going. Join the WDMCS as we inspire our students during Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 5-11!

Read about ways students and their families can learn computer science at school, explore computer science at home, and use computer science in the future on our district website at www.wdmcs.org/news/computer-science-education-week-2016.

Review the District’s 2017 Legislative Priorities
The 2017 Iowa legislative session will convene on Monday, Jan. 9, and will adjourn on Friday, April 28. The West Des Moines Community Schools prepared for the upcoming session by discussing the needs of the district and setting legislative priorities. The WDMCS Board of Education approved three legislative priorities for 2017 at its Aug. 8, 2016, regular business meeting. A PDF of the legislative priorities can be found online.

WDMCS is Ready for Winter
Winter break is almost here! This year, there will be no school Dec. 22–Jan. 2. All district offices are closed Dec. 23, Dec. 26, and Jan. 2. Classes will resume Jan. 3.

We also want to remind district families about our weather closings procedure. To prepare for potential winter weather, please visit our “Weather Closings” webpage.

Read Along with the Grading Practices Task Force
The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Grading Practices Task Force has been meeting regularly since Sept. 28, 2016, to focus on the district’s goal to address grading practices in the WDMCS. Learn more about the task force’s work at www.wdmcs.org/category/grading-practices/.

In addition to the items addressed at each meeting, the Grading Practices Task Force is reviewing research and literature connected to grading practices. Start reading along by visiting www.wdmcs.org/2016/12/read-along-grading-practices-task-force.

Congratulations! Brad Rose Named Athletic Director of the Year
Please join the West Des Moines Community Schools as we congratulate Athletics & Activities Department Director Brad Rose, who was named the IHSADA Athletic Director of the Year for the State of Iowa, as well as the 2017 Central District Athletic Director of the Year! Read more about his honor on the district website.

Topics: Informaline