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Archive for Topic: '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

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

Grading Practices Task Force Meets Sept. 28

The WDMCS Effective Grading Practices Task Force will hold its first meeting of the year from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the Learning Resource Center. All Effective Grading Practices Task Force meetings are open to the public. A full meeting schedule is below.

The study is part of the district’s strategic plan and the School Board’s priority goals for Superintendent Lisa Remy for the 2016-17 school year. More information about the task force is available here:

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, Agenda
5:30-7:30 pm
Purpose of the task force
Review Norms of the task force
Data from Meeting #1
Small group #1: article de-brief
Small group #2: by book
Small group #3: jigsaw (one representative from each book in a new group)
Start with the end in mind: What skills, abilities, attributes should WDMCS graduates possess?

Effective Grading Practices Task Force Meeting Schedule
All meetings are from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

  • Sept. 28, 2016
  • Oct. 26, 2016
  • Nov. 30, 2016
  • Jan. 25, 2017
  • Feb. 22, 2017
  • March 29, 2017
  • April 26, 2017
  • May 31, 2017

Topics: Grading Practices, School Board News

Thank You to Our School Board!

Please join the district in thanking our School Board members during Iowa’s School Board Member Recognition Month in May.



Topics: School Board News

Tiger Field Project Bids Approved, Facilities Plan to be Reviewed

On a 4-2 vote with one abstention, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved the bids for the renovation of Valley High School’s Tiger Field.

The project includes a new track surface, press box, long jump and shot put/discus area, sound system, sidewalks, increased seating at the field with new bleachers, additional lighting to extend the hours of operation, and more. Construction will begin this summer, with substantial completion of the project scheduled for August.

New field turf will be considerably wider at 225 feet than the current grass field, which is 180 feet, and will allow more physical education classes to be held outside even when the ground is wet, which currently is not possible according to Valley High School Athletics Director Brad Rose.

The Board awarded the construction contract to Elder Corporation of Des Moines, Iowa on the basis of its low total bid of $3,309,500. Revenue from the state sales tax will pay for the project. According to Iowa law, these funds can only be used for construction projects and can not be used for general operating costs, including salaries.

Board member Liz Cox voted against awarding the bid stating that she felt the bids were high and the district could get better prices bidding in December with construction starting next summer.  Board member Melinda Dunnwald also voted against awarding the bids. Board member Jill Caton Johnson abstained stating that she did not have enough information about the bidding process.

During the School Board meeting, teachers from Westridge Elementary expressed concern with the field project and noted that kindergarten classrooms at their school have inadequate instructional space. Operations Director Eric Smith, who has met with staff members at the school, acknowledged these concerns and reported that this summer the administration would like to review the district’s 10-year facilities plan, current space needs in the district’s buildings, and bring a recommendation regarding the plan to the Board this fall.

Topics: School Board News

Grading Practices Under Review

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Board of Education has appointed a task force to review the district’s grading practices.

On May 9th, the School Board approved a 51-member task force that will look at the district’s current grading practices, study national research on effective practices, and possibly recommend changes to how students are graded.

Drake University Associate Professor of Education Dr. Thomas Buckmiller and Solon High School Principal Nathan Wear will facilitate the task force of parents, community members, teachers, administrators, and School Board members. Both facilitators have an extensive background in effective grading practices and have worked with schools in Iowa and across the nation in this area.

The task force will complete its work during the 2016-17 school year and provide a recommendation in the spring of 2017.

The committee meetings will be open to the public.

Effective Grading Practices Task Force Membership List


Topics: Grading Practices, Informaline, School Board News

Board Discusses Effective Grading Practices April 28


(Photo if Rick Wormeli. Source:

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Board of Education will hold a special workshop session at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 28 in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines. This meeting is open to the public.

National education speaker Rick Wormeli will talk with WDMCS Board of Education members about effective grading practices. One of the first Nationally Board Certified teachers in America and Disney’s American Teacher Awards 1996 Outstanding English Teacher of the Nation, Wormeli has more than 30 years of experience in education. Learn more here.


School Board Meeting Materials

School Board Information

School Board Meeting Calendar

Topics: Grading Practices, School Board News

School Board Approves Revised Discipline Policies

Students in the West Des Moines Community Schools who sell or attempt to sell or distribute alcohol, a controlled substance, or a look-alike may either be suspended or expelled from school under a policy change recently approved by the school board.

A revised version of Board Policy 502.8 “Alcoholic Beverages and Controlled Substances – Selling or Distributing”  and several other discipline-related policies were unanimously approved by the board on April 25, 2016.

Policy 502.8 had the most substantial change with the addition of  “long-term suspension” as a disciplinary option for students who violate the policy.

Previously, administrators could only recommend students be expelled from school for violating 502.8. The policy change allows administrators the flexibility to recommend students either be suspended from school for more than 10 days or be expelled from school.

For a long-term suspension, a student is out of school more than 10 days. Often educational services are offered and paid for by the district at a location other than a school. For example, the district provides the Four Oaks program at the Learning Resource Center. There is no set time period for an expulsion from school and the district provides no services. The school board must approve long-term suspensions and expulsions.

The Superintendent’s Board Policy Advisory Committee recommended the revised policies. The policy committee made its recommendation after surveying similar disciplinary policies from area school districts, most of which were similar to the new language.

During the open forum portion of the April 25 board meeting, parent Kelly Koch expressed concern with the number of disciplinary hearing the board has been addressing and urged members to provide mentors or other supports as opposed to suspending or expelling students.

Board members talked about holding a workshop session to further discuss student discipline policies and related research,



Topics: School Board News