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Archive for Topic: 'School Board News'

New Math Materials for Grades K-8 Coming Next Year

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

Topics: School Board News

District to Implement “Deep Equity” Framework

Next year, the WDMCS will begin systemic change to ensure equity for all students through the Deep Equity program.

After months of reviewing several frameworks for equity training and education, students, parents, community members, and employees who make up the district’s equity committee recommended the Deep Equity framework to guide the district’s work. On Monday, April 24, the Board of Education approved a $129,280 two-year contract with Corwin Press, Inc., Thousand Oaks, California, for services related to the Deep Equity framework. The district is seeking grant funding to help offset the expense of the contract.

The services include:

  • Deep Equity Leadership Coaching: Deep Equity Leadership Coaching will assist in designing and implementing equity and inclusion initiatives, review equity-related policies and processes, assess potential structural barriers to an inclusive learning environment, and conduct school equity audits and focus groups to assess strategic equity and inclusion outcomes.
  • In-School Support for Culturally Responsive Teaching Teams: This includes customized implementation visits designed to support Culturally Responsive Teaching Teams in schools.
  • School Board Awareness and Training: The School Board Awareness and Training Session explores the Board’s role in leading for equity.
  • Cultural Competence Professional Development for Support Staff: This invites school support staff to consider how they can transform their schools and workplaces to meet the diverse and complex needs of all employees and students.

It also includes a component for student education, which will culminate in students presenting their vision to the community as a whole.

“This is not a canned program, but is tailored to the needs of our district and our community,” said WDMCS Superintendent Lisa Remy, Ed.D., at the April 24 School Board meeting. She also outlined the benefits of the program.

Read more about the district’s work regarding educational equity.

Topics: Equity, School Board News

District to Eliminate Online Convenience Charge, Adjust Some Student Fees

Next year, families paying school-related fees online will no longer pay a convenience charge. All student fees will remain the same as last year, except textbook and nutrition services fees. Transportation fees are still under review.

Last year, the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) offered a new online payment system as a way to pay school fees, transportation fees, and add money to a student’s nutrition account.

The district charged a two percent convenience fee, subject to a $1 minimum and $5 maximum, to help offset the nearly $80,000 in processing charges from the online payment company. The district will no longer charge the convenience fee.

Fees such as student activity passes, instrument rental, driver education, parking fines, and more will remain the same as last year.

Textbook fees will increase next year by $5 for the regular rate and by $4 for the reduced rate. This is the first textbook fee increase in three years.

The 2017-18 textbook fees will be:

  • Full-Day Kindergarten: Regular Fee $55; Reduced Fee $39
  • Grades 7-8: Regular Fee $65; Reduced Fee $46
  • Grade 9: Regular Fee $85; Reduced Fee $60
  • Grades 10-12: Regular Fee $85; Reduced Fee $60

“When we compare our fees to other metro-area school districts, we do not have the highest fees and we do not have the lowest fees,” WDMCS CFO Paul Bobek said.

School meal prices will increase 5 cents for a full-priced student lunch and 10 cents for a full-priced breakfast. The increase in meal prices is due to the rising food and personnel costs. For the 2017-18 school year, full-priced lunches will be $2.80 for elementary students and $2.90 for junior high and high school students. Full-priced breakfasts will cost $1.80 for elementary students and $1.90 for junior high and high school students. There is no increase for reduced-rate student meals.

The district proposed a $20 increase in the annual two-way bus pass. Transportation fees have not changed for five years. Bobek explained that even with the proposed increase, the district would not charge the full cost of transporting a student. As in the past, the district would only charge approximately three-fourths of the average transportation cost per student.

The School Board took no action on the transportation fee proposal, due, in part, to a request from the Superintendent’s Finance & Facilities Committee for additional information about the pay zone areas for busing.

The Transportation Department is analyzing how much it would cost to provide free transportation for K-12 students living one mile or more from school. The district currently follows the Iowa Department of Education recommendation to provide free transportation for elementary students living two miles or more from school and for high school students living three miles or more from school.

The transportation fee proposal will come back to the School Board at a later date with the additional information about the adjusted pay zone.

Topics: Budget, School Board News

School Board Reviews Search and Seizure Policy

On Monday, Feb. 27, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education held its first reading of Board policy 502.9P regarding the search of students’ lockers, backpacks, and more.

The policy is part of a series of policies regarding student personnel that is under review this year. The Superintendent’s Board Policy Advisory Committee reviews all policies prior to sending them to the School Board. The School Board will take action on 502.9P at an upcoming meeting.

Topics: School Board News

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

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

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 at its Dec. 12 meeting. The Board held public hearings for the proposed calendars at the regular meeting on Nov. 28. Both hearings closed without public comments, written or in person.

Both proposed calendars have the same start and end dates. The main difference between the proposed calendars is the two additional professional development days in Calendar A. Learn about both proposed calendars in the Nov. 28 Board of Education regular meeting agenda.

The Board will also take action on the program of studies proposals it reviewed at its workshop session on Monday, Nov. 28. The Teaching & Learning Services Department presented 26 proposals, which can be seen online.

Topics: School Board News

Board Continues to Study Moving Sixth Grade, Preschool

Facilities study image: Image of building ceiling with district logo and the words "Board Studies Learning Spaces."

The 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.

During a special workshop session held Oct. 30, the School Board asked Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering to return in December with estimates for construction and ongoing operational costs associated with such moves.

Members agreed that no decision can be made at this time without further information.

 

Initial Feedback Shows Support for Moving Sixth Grade Out of Elementary Schools

The School Board reviewed preliminary feedback gathered by Shive-Hattery this fall from groups of teachers, parents, and administrators at each elementary school. The preliminary feedback shows support for moving sixth grade out of the elementary and combining seventh- and eighth-graders together.

Space Utilization Summary (PDF)

The four main themes that arose from the group discussions included:

  • developmental disparity (the academic or social development of sixth graders compared to fifth graders and seventh graders),
  • scheduling classes,
  • curriculum style, and
  • teacher endorsement.

Shive-Hattery Architect Joe Benesh said there is no evidence that shows sixth-graders perform better academically when grouped with seventh-graders than with fifth-graders. However, the groups of teachers, parents, and administrators at each school reported that they believe there is a difference between the socialization of sixth-graders when they are grouped with seventh-graders versus fifth-graders. They said moving sixth-graders out of the elementary school was a good idea not just from a space usage standpoint, but also from a socialization standpoint. Shive-Hattery Architect Michelle Huggins reported some parent representatives said the district’s K-6 structure is a unique feature that could appeal to some families.

The school groups reported scheduling classes and the K-5 grade span of the core standards are a challenge with the current structure. Teacher endorsements were an initial concern, but it was reported that most teacher certification covers a K-8 span.

 

Feedback Mixed for Moving Preschool Out of Elementary Schools

The school groups’ feedback about moving preschool out the elementary schools was mixed, Benesh reported. The groups from Crestview School of Inquiry, Crossroads Park Elementary, and Fairmeadows Elementary were not in favor of moving preschool programming out of the elementary school when considering the integration of students, preschool teacher collaboration, and the transition to kindergarten.

Space Utilization Summary (PDF)

Crestview reported that moving the preschool program out of an elementary school’s neighborhood to a central district location would be a barrier for families who have limited or no transportation options. In addition, they reported that it is beneficial for preschool students and families to become familiar with the school building prior to kindergarten.

Those schools in favor of a central preschool location noted instruction could benefit because teacher collaboration would be easier.

Nearly all schools were in favor of providing childcare services before and after the half-day preschool program.

 

Upcoming Meetings & Further Study

The October 30 meeting was the second of three special workshop sessions scheduled to review the district’s 10-year facility plan. The remaining workshops are scheduled for:

  • December 5, 2016, 5:15-7:30 p.m., at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines
  • NEW DATE! December 19, 2016, 5:15-7:30 p.m., at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines
  • January 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:

Facilities Projects – Updates

Topics: Facilities, School Board News

School Board to Discuss Facilities at Special Workshop

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will continue to study school building needs at a special workshop at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, at the Learning Resource Center. This meeting is open to the public.

WDMCS is working with architects from Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering of West Des Moines to explore new ways to use space in our school buildings to support learning.

The School Board has tentatively scheduled additional workshop sessions to continue its study.

  • December 5, 2016, 5:15-7 p.m.
  • January 22, 2017, 1-3 p.m.

 

School Board Meeting Materials

WDMCS 10-Year Facilities Plan

Latest Updates on Facilities & Planning

 

 

Topics: Facilities, School Board News