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School Board Sets Public Hearing on Budget

Budget_2The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will hold a public hearing on the district’s fiscal year 2018 budget at 7 p.m. on April 3, 2017, at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines. A public hearing is held each year on the budget in accordance with Iowa code.

Topics: Budget, School Board News

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

Board Sets Tax Rate at $13.27

On Monday, April 11, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education adopted the district’s $198 million 2016-17 certified budget and set the tax rate at  $13.27.

This is slightly higher than the current $13.24 rate, but district officials estimate that the rate will remain at its current level once finalized.

During the Board’s regular business meeting, Chief Financial Officer Paul Bobek explained that one of the goals in developing the 2016-17 certified budget was to maintain a constant property tax rate.

When the Board adopted and certified the 2015-16 budget, it did so at a total property tax rate of $13.27. Subsequently, the Department of Management made adjustments that resulted in a final total 2015-16 property tax rate of $13.24189. It is possible the Department of Management may still make adjustments to the 2016-17 budget after the Board adopts and certifies, lowering the tax rate.

More information about the district’s 2016-17 budget is available here.

For previous budget-related posts, please click here.

Topics: Budget, School Board News

Public Hearing to Be Held on Tiger Field Project

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will hold a public hearing on the Tiger Field renovation project on May 9.

The Tiger Field is located at Valley High School and serves as a physical education and competition space for high school students during the day. Seasonal sports and local groups use the field in the evening and on weekends.

The field renovation project includes:

  • Removal and replacement of the existing track, practice field, bleachers, and press box;
  • Installation of a new synthetic turf multipurpose field;
  • New sports field lighting;
  • New bleachers and press box;
  • New long jump runways;
  • And the addition of two new shot put rings.

The district hired Shive-Hattery Inc. to design the project. Renovation work is currently scheduled to take place May-October 2016. The preliminary construction base bid budget for the project was approximately $2.7 million, with the cost opinion base bid coming in at $3,261,309. There are six add alternates totaling $543,279 that could be added to the base bid if selected.

The sales tax fund, which cannot pay for general fund expenses like teacher and staff salaries or educational programming, pays for all construction projects, including the Tiger Field renovation.

The public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 9 at Crestview School of Inquiry, 8355 Franklin Ave, Clive. Any persons interested may appear and file objections to the proposed plans, specifications, form of contract, or cost of such improvement. Proposed drawings, specifications, and form of contract may be examined at www.actionrepro.com.

Topics: Budget, School Board News

Recent Cuts Help District Manage Expenses, Keep Tax Rate Steady

​​​The West Des Moines Community Schools’ decision in December to trim its 2016-17 budget by $560,000 may have helped keep its tax rate relatively steady and manage what many Iowa education leaders are calling inadequate state funding.

During a School Board workshop last week, Chief Financial Officer Paul Bobek presented a proposed publish tax rate of $13.37 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for 2016-17. This is slightly higher than the current $13.24 rate, but he estimates that the rate will remain at its current level once finalized. If approved by the School Board, the rate will continue to be the lowest in the metro area. Other area districts are 32 to 53 percent higher. The WDMCS has been able to maintain its low tax rate for the past few years because of the community’s strong property values.

The district’s proposed certified budget for 2016-17 includes an additional $589,558 under the 2.25 percent funding increase recently approved by lawmakers. Bobek said the increase is for regular programming costs and will not ​fully ​cover expenses even with the recent cuts. The School Board ​may decide to use district reserves to cover the remaining expenses. ​​

A hearing on the district’s proposed​ ​$198 million certified budget for 2016-17 will be held at 7 p.m. on April 11 at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.

Topics: Budget, School Board News

School Board Approves Cost-Saving Measures, District Remains Leader in World Language Offerings

Tonight, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved reducing district spending by $530,114 from its $150 million operating budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year, as state funding for education continues to lag behind the actual cost of providing services and programming for students.

The largest savings of $197,000 comes from adjusting Foreign Languages in the Elementary School (FLES) from a kindergarten through sixth-grade program to a fourth- through sixth-grade program. An adjustment to this program was first proposed through community feedback during the district’s budgeting process two years ago and was again proposed this year by a Budget Advisory Committee, whose members represented parents/community members, students, and employees.

The adjustment provides additional time for reading instruction, which will assist in the district’s efforts to have all students proficient in reading by the end of third grade as required by state law.

The School Board amended the administration’s recommendation to eliminate Japanese courses for the 2016-17 school year saving $38,600. Instead, the Board approved phasing out the program by not offering Japanese I in 2016-17, saving approximately $9,500 next year.

The full list of cost-saving measures and descriptions are below.

The WDMCS remains a leading district in the state in world language offerings, providing our students an edge in today’s global economy. With the exception of the Des Moines school district, the WDMCS remains the only public school district in the metro area to offer any world language instruction before sixth grade. In addition, it continues to have one of the largest selections of world language courses in the metro area.

The district will continue to work with local legislators on the School Board-approved legislative priorities, which include providing adequate funding to better reflect actual cost increases in delivering education services experienced by school districts.

For past budget-related news, please visit http://www.wdmcs.org/category/budget-2/.

 

Approved Budget Reductions for Fiscal Year 2016-17 (Dec. 21, 2015)

1. Eliminate 360 feedback

  • Estimated Savings: $10,500
  • Details: The 360 Feedback is an HR-related tool through which employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them, such as peers, managers, and direct reports. Iowa law requires teachers receive some type of feedback and a less expensive feedback tool would be sought.

2. Reduce China trip expenses

  • Estimated Savings: $70,000
  • Details: The district hosts visitors from a sister-school in Shijiazhuang, China and sends students and staff to China. The budgeted costs go toward hosting activities and pays for staff travel.

3. Eliminate printed school district activity calendar.

  • Estimated Savings: $7,000
  • Details: The printed activities calendar is currently provided to district parents and staff free of charge. The estimated savings is from printing costs only. All information is available online in the district’s online calendar. Possible options are to charge for the calendar.

4. Reduce printing budgets districtwide

  • Estimated Savings: $30,000
  • Details: The estimated savings is based on reduced printing budgets across the district.

5. Eliminate Gallup Teacher Insight screening tool & replace with Teacher Fit

  • Estimated Savings: $16,700
  • Details: Gallup Teacher Insight is an online assessment used as part of the application process. Teacher Fit and Job Fit are similar application process tools.

6. Pilot holding meetings after school hours. Hourly pay in lieu of a substitute teacher

  • Estimated Savings: $2,000
  • Details: There are meetings held during the school day in the district that teachers attend. When this occurs, a substitute teacher must be hired to cover classes. This option proposes holding one of these meetings after school outside the contracted hours and paying teachers an hourly amount to attend. This would be a pilot program.

7. Eliminate Des Moines Art Center Scholarships

  • Estimated Savings: $6,707
  • Details: The district provides funds for approximately 50 students to attend classes at the Des Moines Art Center during the summer.

8. Restructure Valley High School security contract

  • Estimated Savings: $20,682
  • Details: Valley High School currently contracts with the Conley Group for four security guards. This revised proposal keeps Conley security services, but at a reduced price. The restructured contract would save the district $20,682, which is an additional savings of $282 compared to the original proposed option.

9. Reduce summer days at secondary level – Flat percentage (10% = $4,600, exclusive of Counselors, non-categorical funds)

  • Estimated Savings: $4,600
  • Details: There are approximately eight certified staff members who work additional days in the summer due to position duties and who are paid for those days.

10. Phase out Japanese language program by not offering Japanese I in 2016-17.

  • Estimated Savings: Approximately $9,500
  • Details: Valley Southwoods Freshman High School offers Japanese I and Valley High School offers Japanese I, II, III, and IV as full-year elective courses. Japanese is one of six world languages offered at Valley. With this phase out, the number of world languages offered remains one of the largest in the Des Moines-metro area.

11. Eliminate 1st through 3rd grade FLES. Keep FLES in 4th through 6th grades.

  • Estimated Savings: $197,000
  • Details: The district’s current Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) program provides Spanish instruction for 60 minutes each week in grades one-six. This proposal would continue to offer 60 minutes of Spanish instruction each week in grades four-six. This would allow the district to provide additional time for reading instruction, which will assist in our efforts to have all students proficient in reading by the end of third grade as required by state law. The district would remain one of the few in the state to offer a world language at the elementary level.

12. Eliminate 3-year-old general education preschool

  • Estimated Savings: $120,000
  • Details: The district currently offers 3-year-old general education preschool at a subsidized cost to parents. This option would eliminate the 3-year-old general education preschool. The proposal would allow the district to expand the number of four-year-old preschoolers served, generating state funding. This option maintains current preschool teacher positions.

13. Eliminate Hanover Research contract

  • Estimated Savings: $35,425
  • Details:  The district has contracted with Hanover Research for the past four years to assist the administration with conducting research, administering surveys, and evaluating programs to determine effectiveness.

Estimated Total Savings: $530,114

Topics: Budget, School Board News

School Board to Review Revised Cost-Saving Package Dec. 21

icon_financialThe district administration of the West Des Moines Community Schools will present a revised budget-reduction package to the School Board at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21, in the Community Room of the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.

The administration presented an initial package with 15 proposed cost-saving measures to the School Board for its review on Nov. 23. The measures were developed through a Budget Advisory Committee representing employees, students, and community members.

The measures were then shared during six community feedback sessions and through an online feedback form.

The Budget Advisory Committee reconvened on Dec. 16 to review community feedback and develop a modified recommendation. The modified proposal was presented at superintendent advisory committee meetings, which subsequently further refined the recommendation.

The revised recommendation includes 13 proposed cost-saving measures totaling an estimated $559,214 in savings.

The Board will also hold a workshop at 5:15 p.m. in the Fairmeadows Room at the Learning Resource Center, during which it will review the district’s audit report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.

School Board Meeting Agenda and Materials

 

Budget Reduction Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2016-17 (Dec. 21, 2015)

Budget Reduction Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2016-17 (Dec. 21, 2015) PDF

1. Eliminate 360 feedback

  • Estimated Savings: $10,500
  • Details: The 360 Feedback is an HR-related tool through which employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them, such as peers, managers, and direct reports. Iowa law requires teachers receive some type of feedback and a less expensive feedback tool would be sought.

2. Reduce China trip expenses

  • Estimated Savings: $70,000
  • Details: The district hosts visitors from a sister-school in Shijiazhuang, China and sends students and staff to China. The budgeted costs go toward hosting activities and pays for staff travel.

3. Eliminate printed school district activity calendar.

  • Estimated Savings: $7,000
  • Details: The printed activities calendar is currently provided to district parents and staff free of charge. The estimated savings is from printing costs only. All information is available online in the district’s online calendar. Possible options are to charge for the calendar.

4. Reduce printing budgets districtwide

  • Estimated Savings: $30,000
  • Details: The estimated savings is based on reduced printing budgets across the district.

5. Eliminate Gallup Teacher Insight screening tool & replace with Teacher Fit

  • Estimated Savings: $16,700
  • Details: Gallup Teacher Insight is an online assessment used as part of the application process. Teacher Fit and Job Fit are similar application process tools.

6. Pilot holding meetings after school hours. Hourly pay in lieu of a substitute teacher

  • Estimated Savings: $2,000
  • Details: There are meetings held during the school day in the district that teachers attend. When this occurs, a substitute teacher must be hired to cover classes. This option proposes holding one of these meetings after school outside the contracted hours and paying teachers an hourly amount to attend. This would be a pilot program.

7. Eliminate Des Moines Art Center Scholarships

  • Estimated Savings: $6,707
  • Details: The district provides funds for approximately 50 students to attend classes at the Des Moines Art Center during the summer.

8. Restructure Valley High School security contract

  • Estimated Savings: $20,682
  • Details: Valley High School currently contracts with the Conley Group for four security guards. This revised proposal keeps Conley security services, but at a reduced price. The restructured contract would save the district $20,682, which is an additional savings of $282 compared to the original proposed option.

9. Reduce summer days at secondary level – Flat percentage (10% = $4,600, exclusive of Counselors, non-categorical funds)

  • Estimated Savings: $4,600
  • Details: There are approximately eight certified staff members who work additional days in the summer due to position duties and who are paid for those days.

10. Eliminate Japanese language program

  • Estimated Savings: $38,600
  • Details: Valley Southwoods Freshman High School offers Japanese I and Valley High School offers Japanese I, II, III, and IV as full-year elective courses. Japanese is one of six world languages offered at Valley. Options would be provided for students currently taking Japanese to complete their studies. With this reduction, the number of world languages offered remains one of the largest in the Des Moines-metro area.

11. Eliminate 1st through 3rd grade FLES. Keep FLES in 4th through 6th grades.

  • Estimated Savings: $197,000
  • Details: The district’s current Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) program provides Spanish instruction for 60 minutes each week in grades one-six. This proposal would continue to offer 60 minutes of Spanish instruction each week in grades four-six. This would allow the district to provide additional time for reading instruction, which will assist in our efforts to have all students proficient in reading by the end of third grade as required by state law. The district would remain one of the few in the state to offer a world language at the elementary level.

12. Eliminate 3-year-old general education preschool

  • Estimated Savings: $120,000
  • Details: The district currently offers 3-year-old general education preschool at a subsidized cost to parents. This option would eliminate the 3-year-old general education preschool. The proposal would allow the district to expand the number of four-year-old preschoolers served, generating state funding. This option maintains current preschool teacher positions.

13. Eliminate Hanover Research contract

  • Estimated Savings: 35,425
  • Details:  The district has contracted with Hanover Research for the past four years to assist the administration with conducting research, administering surveys, and evaluating programs to determine effectiveness.

 

Estimated Total Savings: $559,214

 

Topics: Budget, School Board News

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Cost-Saving Measures Presented, Public Feedback Sessions Scheduled

icon_financialOn Monday, Nov. 23, district administrators presented 15 possible cost-saving measures for the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education to review to help address growing expenses as revenue declines.

Proposed Cost-Saving Measures

1. Eliminate 360 feedback.

  • Estimated Savings: $10,500
  • Details: The 360 Feedback is an HR-related tool through which employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them, such as peers, managers, and direct reports. Iowa law requires teachers receive some type of feedback and a less expensive feedback tool would be sought.

2. Cut China trip expenses and visitors from China.

  • Estimated Savings: $80,000
  • Details: The district hosts visitors from a sister-school in Shijiazhuang, China and sends students and staff to China. The budgeted costs go toward hosting activities and to pay for staff travel.

3. Eliminate printed school district activity calendar.

  • Estimated Savings: $7,000
  • Details: The printed activities calendar is currently provided to district parents and staff free of charge. The estimated savings is from printing costs only. All information is available online in the district’s online calendar. Possible options are to charge for the calendar or sell ads to cover the production costs.

4. Remove all non-essential classroom printers. (Sales Tax Fund Saving for Device, General Fund for Supplies & Maintenance)

  • Estimated Savings: $30,000
  • Details: The estimated savings is based on reduced printing budgets  and removal of non-essential printers.

5. Eliminate Gallup Teacher Insight screening tool & replace with Teacher Fit and Job Fit.

  • Estimated Savings: $16,700
  • Details: Gallup Teacher Insight is an online assessment used as part of the application process. Teacher Fit and Job Fit are similar application process tools.

6. Holding meetings (grade level) after school hours. Hourly pay in lieu of a sub. (Pilot)

  • Estimated Savings: $2,000
  • Details: There are meetings held during the school day in the district that teachers attend. When this occurs, a substitute teacher must be hired to cover classes. This option proposes holding some of these meetings after school outside the contracted hours and paying teachers an hourly amount to attend. This would be a pilot program.

7. Eliminate Des Moines Art Center Scholarships.

  • Estimated Savings: $6,707
  • Details: The district provides funds for approximately 50 students to attend classes at the Des Moines Art Center during the summer.

8. Replace outsourced security with newly hired support staff.

  • Estimated Savings: $20,400
  • Details: Valley High School currently contracts with the Conley Group for four security guards. This option proposes the district hiring support staff to cover these duties.

9. Reduce summer days at secondary level – Flat percentage (10 percent = $4,600, exclusive of Counselors, non-categorical)

  • Estimated Savings: $4,600
  • Details: There are approximately eight certified staff members who work additional days in the summer due to position duties and who are paid for those days.

10. Eliminate planning period for department chairpersons at Valley High School (.125 FTE $95,000).

  • Estimated Savings: $95,000
  • Details: Subject-area or department chairpersons are selected at each building site with related duties. Certified staff members in grades 10-12 receive an additional planning period for this work. This option would require each department chairperson at Valley High School to teach an additional period.

11. Eliminate Japanese.

  • Estimated Savings: $38,600
  • Details: Valley Southwoods Freshman High School offers Japanese I and Valley High School offers Japanese I, II, III, and IV as full-year elective courses. Japanese is one of six world languages offered at Valley. Options would be provided for students currently taking Japanese to complete their studies.

12. Phase out German by not offering German I (.25 FTE).

  • Estimated Savings: $12,800
  • Details: Valley Southwoods Freshman High School offers German I and Valley High School offers German I, II, III, and IV as full-year elective courses. German is one of six world languages offered at Valley.

13. (A) Eliminate 1st & 2nd Grade FLES. Keep FLES in 3rd-6th grades.

  • Estimated Savings: $143,300
  • Details: The district’s current Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) program provides Spanish instruction for 60 minutes each week in grades one-six.

13. (B) Eliminate 1st-3rd Grade FLES. Keep FLES in 4th-6th grades.

  • Estimated Savings: $197,000
  • Details: Based on feedback provided by the School Board at its Nov. 23 workshop, an alternate #13 option is being reviewed. The alternate option proposes eliminating FLES in grades one-three and maintaining instruction in grades four-six.

14. Reduce the number of meeting times for general music in grades 1 – 3 from 90 to 60 minutes.

  • Estimated Savings: $123,000
  • Details: The district currently provides general music instruction in grades one- six for 90 minutes every week. This proposal reduces that amount to 60 minutes per week for grades one-three, providing the same number of instructional minutes as provided for physical education and art.

15. Eliminate 3-year-old general education preschool.

  • Estimated Savings: $120,000
  • Details: The district currently offers 3-year-old general education preschool at a subsidized cost to parents. This option would eliminate the 3-year-old general education preschool and provide openings to 4-year-olds preschoolers, for which there is state funding. This option would maintain all current preschool teacher positions.

These 15 options total an estimated $710,607 in savings. 2014 Tregoe List of Cost-Saving Options (Unimplemented) 

Learn More and Provide Your Feedback

The district is offering staff and the community several ways to learn more about these options and provide feedback. District administration will be available on the following dates to share information and listen to feedback:

  • ​​Monday, Nov. 30, at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.
  • ​​Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 3:30 p.m. in the Staplin Center at Valley High School, 3650 Woodland Avenue, in West Des Moines.
  • ​​Tuesday, Dec. 8, at
    • 12:00 p.m. noon in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.
    • 3:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.
    • 4:45 p.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.
  • ​​Saturday, Dec. 12, at 9 a.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.

Cost-Saving Measures Presentation (Presentation at Public Feedback Sessions)

In addition, an online feedback form is available.

  • Online Feedback Form – The form is now closed. Thank you to everyone who provided input. The feedback will be shared with the budget advisory committee and the Board of Education.

More information about the district’s finances and budget is available here: Budget & Finance

Topics: Budget

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Cost-Saving Measures Reviewed

icon_financialDuring its workshop session on Monday, Nov. 23, the district administration will present possible cost-saving measures for the 2016-17 school year to the School Board.

  • To learn more about the proposed recommendations, please click here
  • For the latest budget updates, please click here.

Topics: Budget

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Dollars & Cents: The Budget in ‘General’

The West Des Moines Community Schools has a combined budget totaling approximately $150 million dollars. The budget is divided into 10 separate funds as required by Iowa law. Iowa law also directs where the revenue for each one of these funds comes from and how the money can be spent.

At $98 million, the General Fund is the largest of the district’s 10 funds and nearly all operating costs are paid from this account.  Below is a snapshot of the sources of revenue for the General Fund and what that revenue purchases.

en español

Budget-Graphic

Topics: Budget

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