District News

Benefits Enrollment Period Starts Monday, May 1

The annual enrollment period for medical/prescription drug, flexible spending accounts, and supplemental insurance will be held May 1–12, 2017. This is your opportunity to make changes to your employee benefits. Everyone should log into BCEnroll and verify their benefits. Any changes will be effective starting July 1, 2017.

Questions? Contact: Kris Craig, Employee Benefits, 633-5076, craigk@wdmcs.org

Find more resources and information below.

Medical/Prescription Drug, Dental and Vision Coverage

You will be able to

  • add or remove dependents on your medical insurance, or
  • change your medical plan from Plan 1, 2, or 3

Insurance changes will take effect July 1, 2017. This includes any changes made by the employee and any actual coverage level changes. Please review the following benefit comparison documents to determine which plan best meets your needs:

Based on the plan you choose, there could be cash back based on the district’s contribution to insurance. The cash back will be returned to the employee in their paycheck with IPERS applied to it and will be subject to all withholding taxes. Please note: Our rates have continued to run flat, there will be no increase in premiums for 2017-18.

Want to know what plans the district offers? Get information from the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (Plans 1, 2, & 3) or by contacting the Benefits Adviser Kris Craig in the Benefits Office at 633-5076.

Flexible (Flex) Medical & Dependent Care Reimbursement

This benefit is recommended for employees who have medical expenses, such as

  • co-insurance or co-payments,
  • dental,
  • eye glasses,
  • prescription drugs, and
  • child care costs for daycare (Dependent Care Reimbursement).

You must sign up each year for flex benefits, and you must use the money during the plan year—July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018—with a two and a half month grace period until Sept. 15, 2018.

The flex debit card option will allow members to instantly pay for qualified purchases (other than dependent care) from your flexible spending account, but you may be asked to substantiate the charges.

Money is taken out of your paycheck before taxes are withheld and placed in your account throughout the year. Your taxable income is reduced, which results in more take-home pay for you.

The maximum amount for unreimbursed medical expenses that can be deducted pre-tax has increased slightly to $2,600 per policyholder per calendar year. Dependent care maximum is the IRS limit of $5,000 per family per calendar year and can be split between two parents.

To check your current flex enrollment status, please:

If you should choose flex benefits, you will be asked which category you are in:

  • Cycle 1: Certified Staff (24 Pay, Semi-Monthly)
  • Cycle 2: 9-10 Month Employees (Support Staff 16 Pay)
  • Cycle 2: 12 Month Employees (Support Staff 24 Pay Semi-Monthly)

KABEL Business Services in West Des Moines will continue to be our flex benefits administrator for the 2017-18 year.

Supplemental Life, AD&D, Spouse & Child Life

You may increase supplemental life and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance during this enrollment period.

An additional employee supplemental life/AD&D in $10,000 increment may be purchased without underwriting if your current supplemental life/AD&D benefit is less than $100,000. You can purchase up to $500,000, subject to underwriting paperwork which is on BCEnroll website and is called Evidence of Insurability.

HIPAA & Other Benefit Notices

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rule was issued to protect the privacy and confidentiality of personal health information. The West Des Moines Community School District is very committed to this law.

In order to best comply with the legislation, we ask that you direct all your personal health questions/claims to the toll-free number on the back of your insurance card. Your insurance carrier is the best source to directly resolve your concerns/questions. Questions regarding HIPAA should be directed to Donna Beerman, the HIPAA compliance officer for the West Des Moines Community Schools, at 633-5078.

See additional healthcare benefit notices online.

Remember: Benefits Enrollment Period Starts Monday

If you have questions, contact Kris Craig, benefits adviser, at 633-5076 or craigk@wdmcs.org.

WDMCS Earns 32nd Excellence in Financial Reporting Award

The district has received its 32nd consecutive Association of School Business Officials International’s (ASBO) Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting Award

WDMCS Team Named Communication Department of the Year

three females holding awards

Elaine Watkins-Miller, Alexandra Wade, and Jamie Evans were named the 2017 Communications Department of the Year by the Iowa School Public Relations Association.

WDMCS School/Community Relations Director Elaine Watkins-Miller, School/Community Relations Specialist Alexandra Wade, and Community Education Specialist/Webmaster Jamie Evans were named the 2017 Communications Department of the Year by the Iowa School Public Relations Association on April 21. This is the first time the association has awarded the honor.

The team also earned the state’s top school public relations award—the Blue and Gold Award—in four categories for the district’s new branding and imaging package, the WDMCS Brand System & Visual Style Guide, the “Welcome to Kindergarten” brochure, and the “Play. Explore. Learn. Welcome to Kindergarten” marketing materials. This is the highest number of top awards earned this year.

Of the district’s brand and style guide, judges’ wrote, “Phenomenal work. The comprehensive nature of the guide is going to set the tone for the district going forward with a clear process. Superb! Best version of this document ever seen.”

The district also earned an Award of Excellence for its “This is Where it All Begins” district video and Awards of Merit for its kindergarten social media campaign and its story on Valley High School junior JJ Kapur.

School districts from around the state submit their work for multiple categories to the Iowa School Public Relations Association’s contest each year. This year, the entries were scored by public relations professionals from Arizona. Entries are scored for design, clarity, quality in writing, the overall effect, and evaluation. Based on the scores, the entries receive an Award of Merit or an Award of Excellence, with the highest scoring entry in each category receiving the Blue and Gold Award.

Making it a Great Day with High-Five Fridays

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Student receives high five from teachers as he walks into school.

How do you start your day? At Indian Hills Junior High, teachers welcome students to school with high fives and great music on High-Five Fridays. See what the students’ mornings are like here:  https://www.facebook.com/wdmcs/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf

WDMCS Offers Career and Technical Education Starting in Junior High

Cte image

Career and Technical Education Infographic

The West Des Moines Community Schools Career and Technical Education (CTE) program is a pathway to explore, discover, and launch a student’s future.

Formerly called vocational education, Career and Technical Educational programs specialize in the skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies, and career preparation. It offers both academic and career-oriented courses. Teachers seek to encourage students to explore opportunities aligned to their interests through holistic career guidance, exploratory rigorous coursework, and work-based learning opportunities.

Here are just a few of our offerings:

Indian Hills/Stilwell

  • Business: 7th Grade – Financial Literacy
  • Family Consumer Science
    • 7th Grade – FCS Exploratory
    • 8th Grade – Foods
    • 8th Grade – Sewing
  • Engineering Technology
    • 7th Grade – Technology Education
    • 8th Grade – Exploring Technology
    • 8th Grade – Gateway To Technology (PLTW)

Valley Southwoods

  • Business: Foundations of Business
  • Family Consumer Sciences
  • Engineering Technology: Foundations of Technology and Engineering

Valley High School

  • Business: 17-course offerings (2016-2017)
  • Family Consumer Science: 11-course offerings (2016-2017)
  • Engineering Technology: 20-course offerings (2016-2017)

A full list of Valley High School’s CTE course offerings is available here: www.wdmcs.org/schools/valley/academics/curriculum/catalog/

For more information about Career and Technical Education offerings in your school, please contact your school counselor. School contact information is available here: www.wdmcs.org/district/our-schools/.

We Need Your Help!

We are in the process of updating the website to reflect our new brand. Please take a few moments to answer these questions about the district’s website, www.wdmcs.org.

Order WDMCS Apparel

Show your school pride with official spirit wear from West Des Moines Community Schools.

2017 Staff Recognition Reception

Join friends and colleagues at the 2017 Staff Recognition Reception, Thursday, May 4, 2017The event will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, 205 S. 64th St., in West Des Moines. The reception is from 4:30-6 p.m., with a program starting at 5 p.m. For more information and a list of those being honored, please visit http://www.wdmcs.org/district/our-achievements/staff-recognition/.

WDMCS Teachers NASA Bound

NASA Teachers cropped

WDMCS teachers Scott Brown, Sarah Gould, Bryan Bacehowski, Chris Novak, and Alice Fuglsang are heading to NASA.

Students and teachers from the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) are helping NASA solve a problem.

They designed a prototype of a satellite deployment system and the teachers are headed to Texas to test the equipment in a simulated microgravity environment at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

“It is such a high level of engagement for these kids and it is stretching us beyond what we thought we were capable of doing,” said Indian Hills Junior High instructional coach Sarah Gould.

It began when Gould, Indian Hills Junior High science teachers Alice Fuglsang and Scott Brown and Stilwell Junior High science teachers Chris Novak and Bryan Bacehowski submitted a proposed design to NASA’s Microgravity University for Educators program. Their proposal was one of only 12 student-derived designs in the nation to be selected by NASA for testing.

During the past few months, the teachers and their seventh- and eighth-grade students built the prototype through the Engineering Design Process guided by a NASA scientist. The students participating in the project are part of the district’s New Tech junior high teams, which deliver instruction through a project-based learning model.

Newtech NASA astronaut

Former Astronaut Clayton Anderson speaking to the students.

The students recently received additional help from former flight director Tomas Gonzales-Torres and astronaut Clayton C. Anderson, who stopped by the science classrooms in late February on their way to teach at Iowa State University. The astronauts helped the students think about their designs and consider potential problems.

Working with NASA engineers and scientists at the Johnson Space Center, the teachers will experience how using tools in space differs from using them on Earth and mimic the training of astronauts as they participate in real-time

Newtech NASA prototype

The prototype WDMCS students and teachers developed.

According to NASA’s Microgravity University, a primary function of operating in space is the deployment and retrieval of payloads. NASA uses a deployment system to eject payloads such as cube satellites from the International Space Station. In recent years, a deployment system encountered trouble failing to release satellites when commanded, and inadvertently or prematurely releasing satellites. Work to improve the mechanics and powering of the system has been a focus for NASA and its partners. The Microgravity University for Educators invites teachers and students to be part of the team to improve the solution.

See the students and teaching testing their prototype prior to sending it to NASA.
WDMCS Teacher & Student NASA Prototype Test – Video 1 (14 Seconds)
WDMCS Teacher & Student NASA Prototype Test – Video 2 (5 Seconds)
WDMCS Teacher & Student NASA Prototype Test – Video 3 (36 Seconds)

See Photos from the Test at NASA’s Johnson Space Center!

Student-designed. Teacher-tested. NASA-approved? The WDMCS teachers tested the SLED at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, 1-2 p.m. April 4 and 6. See photos from all the tests, including our district’s, at https://flic.kr/s/aHskSpnzrg.

Gabe McGee, Stilwell Junior High, helps troubleshoot issues with the Remote Electromagnetic Attach and Release System (EMARS) during the test. He and his grandfather designed the EMARS system themselves.

Gabe McGee, Stilwell Junior High, helps troubleshoot issues with the Remote Electromagnetic Attach and Release System (EMARS) during the test. McGee and his grandfather designed the EMARS system themselves. (Photo credit: Allison Bills)

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