District News

District House for Sale

news_fairmeadowshouseThe West Des Moines Community School District is asking for Sealed Bids on its property at 2017 Prospect Ave., West Des Moines, IA 50265 with bids due on April 1st and a MINIMUM asking price of $126,500. Information packets describing the bid process and bid forms are available at the document holder at front yard of the house or by calling 515-633-4964.

Photos and Zillow Listing

 

OPEN HOUSE

  • March 8 12 p.m.-3 p.m.

FACTS

  • 4 beds 1.75 baths 1,152 sq. ft.
  • Lot: 9,100 sq. ft.
  • Single Family
  • Built in 1954
  • Cooling: Central
  • Heating: Forced air
  • Last sold: Oct 2013 for $160,000
  • Last sale price/sq. ft: $139

FEATURES

  • Cable Ready
  • Ceiling Fan
  • Fenced Yard
  • Flooring: Carpet, Hardwood, Linoleum / Vinyl
  • Parking: Garage – Detached, 484 sq. ft.
  • Partial basement, 1152 sq. ft.
  • Porch

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

  • Screened-in porch
  • Movable shed

APPLIANCES INCLUDED

  • Dishwasher
  • Garbage disposal

ROOM TYPES

  • Dining room

CONSTRUCTION

  • Exterior material: Wood
  • Roof type: Asphalt
  • Room count: 7
  • Stories: 1
  • Structure type: Ranch
  • Unit count: 1

OTHER

  • Floor size: 1,152 sq. ft.
  • Heating: Gas
  • Lot depth: 130
  • Lot width: 70
  • Parcel #: 32001520000000

Public Hearings Monday, Feb. 23 on Two Proposed School Calendars

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will hold its next workshop and regular news_calendar_photomeeting on Monday, Feb. 23 at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines. The workshop begins at 5:15 p.m., followed by the regular business meeting at 7:00 p.m. The agendas follow. These meetings are open to the public.

During the regular meeting, the School Board will hold public hearings on two alternate calendars for the 2015-16 school year. One proposed calendar has a start date of August 24, 2015, which reflects a legislative bill currently under consideration. The other alternate calendar proposes a start date of August 31, 2015, which is in line with current state law.

These two alternate calendars are being proposed after school districts across the state were notified in December that the Iowa Department of Education would stop granting routine waivers to the law requiring schools to start classes during the week of Sept. 1. A new waiver submission process has been implemented. The district has submitted a waiver request for a calendar with a start date of Aug. 12, 2015, which was approved by the School Board last year. The district is waiting for a response on its waiver request.

The alternate calendars are being proposed in the event the district’s waiver request is not approved or no action is taken before spring break. Districts are required by law to hold public hearings on proposed school calendars.

 

Workshop Agenda

I.             Call to Order

II.            Roll Call

III.           Annual Student Achievement Report

IV.          Adjournment

 

Regular Meeting Agenda

I.             Call to Order

II.            Roll Call

III.           Open Forum

IV.          Consent Agenda

A.            Consent – Minutes

B.            Consent – Personnel

C.            Consent – Bills for Payment

D.            Consent – Student Trip Request(s)

E.            Consent – Facilities Projects

                1.            Valley High School – Waste Management Compactor Lease

V.            Superintendent’s Report

VI.          Board Members’ Reports

VII.         Open Enrollment

VIII.        Facilities Projects

IX.           Hearings

A.            Clive Elementary Flooring Replacement

B.            2015-16 School District Calendar (August 24 start date)

C.            2015-16 School District Calendar (August 31 start date)

X.            Contracts

A.            Clive Elementary Flooring Replacement

B.            Bohnsack & Frommelt LLP – Agreed Upon Procedures Engagement

C.            Y Camp – Jordan Creek

D.            Iowa Home Care

E.            Morningside College Student Teacher/Practicum

F.            R & R Realty

XI.           2014-15 Early Retirement Re-opening

XII.         Financial Report – January 2015

XIII.        Request for Closed Session: Student Discipline [Iowa Code 21.5 (1) (e)]

XIV.        Request to Reconvene Open Session

XV.         Request Motion for Item Discussed in Closed Session

XVI.        Request for Closed Session: Personnel Matter [21.5(1)i]

XVII.      Request to Reconvene Open Session

XVIII.     Request Motion for Item Discussed in Closed Session

XIX.        Adjournment

 

Workshop & Regular Meeting Materials

Board Information

 

New Tech Learner Applications for Junior Highs Now Available!

NTN logoNew Tech is coming to our junior high schools next year and our current sixth graders are invited to join us!

Applications Now Available!

  • Online: The Learner Applications for both Indian Hills and Stilwell are available in a PDF format online. To complete, please download and print either the Indian Hills or Stilwell application, depending on which school your current sixth-grade student will attend next year.

New Tech – Indian Hills Learner Application

New Tech –  Stilwell  Learner Application

  • At Each Elementary School: Printed copies of the Learner Applications are also available at each elementary school in the district starting today.


Submit Your Application

  • Applications will be accepted in person starting at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 23 through Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 3 p.m.
  • For Indian Hills Junior High, the first 110 learners to turn in an application will be immediately enrolled. The 111th learner and thereafter will be selected for enrollment through a stratified lottery.
  • For Stilwell Junior High, the first 130 learners to turn in an application will be immediately enrolled. The 131st learner and thereafter will be selected for enrollment through a stratified lottery.
  • Applications will be accepted in person at each junior high. Please submit your completed form in person to Stilwell Junior High, 1601 Vine Street, West Des Moines, or to Indian Hills Junior High, 9401 Indian Hills Drive, Clive, depending on which junior high your student will be attending next year.


Have Questions?

If you have a question about the application or process, please contact either Indian Hills Junior High at 633-4700 or Stilwell Junior High at 633-6000.

If you have a general question about New Tech at the West Des Moines Community Schools, please see the information below or submit your question here.


Information about New Tech

Next year, the West Des Moines Community Schools will be the first district in the state of Iowa to offer New Tech schools, where students learn through real-world projects and students are assigned a personal digital device.

Both Indian Hills and Stilwell junior high schools will offer a “school-within-a-school” model, with one team of seventh-grade students learning in a New Tech environment. Incoming seventh-graders have the opportunity to apply to the New Tech team at their junior high or choose to be assigned to a team using the traditional teaching model.

The New Tech model embraces three key elements.

  • Project-based learning that provides engaging and rigorous instruction.
  • Collaborative culture that promotes trust, respect, and responsibility.
  • Technology fully applied to allow for innovative approaches to instruction.

For information about New Tech at the West Des Moines Community Schools, visit www.wdmcs.org/academics/new-tech/

Life in the WDMCS 02/17/15

Life in the WDMCS is a weekly feature that highlights what is happening at each of our buildings. If a school is not listed, there was no submission from that building this week.

District

The Iowa World Language Association has named West Des Moines Community Schools teacher Amy Murphy as their educator of the year. Murphy, a teacher at Fairmeadows and Crossroads Park elementary schools, currently serves as chair for the World Languages Department in the district. She co-led a FLES study group on implementing iPads in the FLES classroom, according to the association’s website. Murphy also works with educators from around the state to help develop FLES programs in other districts.

Crestview Elementary

Kindergarten music class is a time to explore, hear and develop the beginning knowledge and skill to listen and be able to talk about what students have heard and what they are learning.  Students have been learning about rhythm and steady beat this week. They have been learning how to read rhythm notation and different ways to show their learning. One day, they played an echo game with Crestview music teacher William Bird where each student used rhythm sticks to play each rhythm as an echo and then from written music notation.

Jordan Creek Elementary

Students in Luis Suarez’s physical education classes had the opportunity to enjoy the Iowa winter with some awesome sledding the week of Feb. 2.  The hill behind the school has few obstructions and students are instructed where they can and cannot go. Suarez uses the activity for some great character lessons about sharing, taking turns and getting great exercise in the snow. Students have done a great job overall in observing safety rules to keep it a fun experience. When students learn to watch out for others, they become more aware of their fellow students and less focused on themselves.

Start Date Expected by Spring Break

Administrators have submitted a waiver request to the state for the district’s proposed 2015-16 calendar, which has a start date of Aug. 12, 2015.

The Iowa Department of Education notified districts in December that it would stop granting routine waivers to the law requiring schools to start classes during the week of Sept. 1.

If the state denies the district’s request or does not take action on it by Spring Break, which begins March 13, the district will hold a hearing and ask the School Board to approve an alternate calendar with a start date closer to Sept. 1.

Leaders Review Budget Plans for Next Year

The West Des Moines Community Schools is looking to reduce its general fund spending authority for 2015-16. Depending on the amount of funding the legislature approves for education, the district may need to reduce spending by $1 million.

Last year, the administration reported the district would need to reduce spending by approximately $3 million each year for two years. After conducting a budget reduction process last year that included gathering more than 200 cost-saving suggestions, the School Board approved a $2.7 million budget reduction package for the 2014-15 school year. Due to this action and efforts to obtain a one-time additional spending authority allocation from the School Budget Review committee, the district is projected to have a balanced budget for the 2015 fiscal year.

However, reductions in the general fund are still needed for the 2016 fiscal year as anticipated but less than the original $3 million projection. How much will need to be reduced will depend, in part, on the amount of funding the district receives from the state, which has not been determined at this time. At the School Board meeting on Feb. 9, Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy said the administration will look at the remaining cost-saving suggestions generated last year and turnover savings from an additional early retirement incentive to address the needed reductions.

Budget Myth Busters

Myth # 1: The district can raise taxes to cover the projected deficit and cuts are not needed.
Fact: The Iowa Code through the school funding formula places limits on each of the property tax rate components. The district is currently at the statutory maximum and is not able to increase the general fund property tax rate any further.

Myth #2: The district can stop spending money on renovating buildings, such as Valley, to help its budget situation.
Fact: Building projects are paid for with money from sales tax revenue. Iowa law does not allow school districts to use sales tax money to pay for salaries or academic programs. Sales tax funds can only be used to renovate buildings or build new ones.

Myth #3: The district could use the money it is spending on New Tech to cover the deficit instead of making reductions.
Fact: The money being used for New Tech is primarily from categorical funds within the general fund. According to Iowa Administrative Code, categorical funds can only be spent on services for particular categories of students, special programs, or special purposes. The categorical funds cannot be used on general operating expenses outside of the defined categories.

Simon Estes Performs at Valley High School Sunday

Opera star Simon Estes and the Wartburg Community Symphony will perform with Valley High School Simon Estesstudents Sunday, Feb. 15.

The Valley Chamber Orchestra will visit Wartburg College in Waverly Feb. 14 to rehearse with Estes and the Wartburg symphony before presenting a concert there in the evening. Estes, a Wartburg Distinguished Professor and Artist in Residence, and the symphony will travel to West Des Moines the next day to repeat their performance with the Valley musicians.

The concert begins at 3 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Valley High School Performing Arts Center, 3650 Woodland Ave., West Des Moines. Tickets are $16.50 for adults and $6.50 for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Go to www.wartburg.edu/Symphony for information and to purchase tickets.

The idea for the collaboration was suggested last year by Daniel Kaplunas, director of the Wartburg Community Symphony, said Phil Peters, Valley’s orchestra director.

The Valley students’ program for the concerts includes “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” by Ralph Vaughn Williams; “Jupiter” and “Mars” from “The Planets,” Gustav Holst; “Berceuse” and “Finale” from “Firebird,” Igor Stravinsky; and “Finlandia,” Jean Sibelius. Estes will be featured on the songs “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Old Man River.”

Auditions are held each spring for the Valley Chamber Orchestra, whose students also participate in string quartets, small ensembles, All-State events and more. Several of the musicians are also members of the Des Moines Youth Symphony.

 

Life in the WDMCS 02/10/15

Life in the WDMCS is a weekly feature that highlights what is happening at each of our buildings. If a school is not listed, there was no submission from that building this week.

Clive Elementary

Students will jump at the chance to help fight heart disease and stroke, our nation’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers. The school will hold its Jump Rope for Heart event during the last few weeks of February. Students will jump rope in PE class to raise funds for the American Heart Association, which supports cardiovascular disease research and public and professional education programs. All physical education classes will learn how to jump rope as well as learn a few new tricks. Jump Rope for Heart is co-sponsored by the American Heart Association and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. If you have any questions about Jump Rope for Heart, please contact Heather Parker at 633-5842.

Crossroads Park Elementary

Sixth-grade students have had the opportunity to participate in an afterschool Math Challenge Club this winter. The club’s objective is to provide an educational enrichment opportunity for students who are highly interested in mathematics and enjoy solving problems. The culminating activity is a chance to participate in the Iowa Engineering Society’s Mathcounts contest as a representative of Crossroads Elementary School. The Central Iowa chapter of the engineering society will hold its Mathcounts contest Tuesday, Feb. 10 at the FFA Enrichment Center on the Ankeny DMACC Campus. Students who perform well at the chapter level have an opportunity to advance to the Mathcounts state contest, where they will have a chance to earn a full-expense paid trip to the Mathcounts national competition in Boston. The students competed to earn one of the 12 spots on the Crossroads’ team for the Central Iowa chapter’s Mathcounts competition. Team participants are Alex Chambers, Quinn Emison-Clair, Isabella Dobrinov, and Sarah Blank; individual participants, Ashwin Dervesh, Shreya Gaddi, Kaylee Davis, Joel Graham, Malany Theisen, and Nate Bell; and alternates, Logan Bell and Logan Keller. Two Valley High School volunteers, Michael Stevens and Alina Husain, collaborated with teachers Tamara Tjeerdsma and Felicia Twit to provide this enriched opportunity for the sixth-graders.

Westridge Elementary 

Fourth-graders at Westridge Elementary have just completed a wonderful trip to Russia. They packed their suitcases, applied for passports, and boarded the plane for their two-week journey through this cold country. The students learned about Russian tourism, culture, geography, literature, animals, and history, and have done lots of great research. The highlights include learning about the Russian czars and making czar crowns, reading Baba Yaga fairy tales, touring the beautiful cities of Russia, and painting Russian Faberge eggs. According to Julia Krob from 4A, “Learning about the culture of Russia was very interesting. What I thought was really American was actually Russian.” Matt Schmalz from 4B feels that “Russia is very cool because it has lots of onion domes in architecture.” Ethan Rosendahl from 4C also enjoyed Russian culture. He liked learning about St. Basils Cathedral because “we talked about Ivan the Terrible and the architects who built it.”

Westridge fourth-grader Tyler Emanuel noticed a shortage of playground balls in the pod bins this fall. Wondering if there was a way to get more balls for students to play with at recess, Tyler decided to make this quest the focus of an Extended Learning Program (ELP) project. His fellow classmates were excited by his presentation and joined him in making a funding request to the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at a Jan. 16 meeting. The group did an excellent job and the students’ request for the purchase of 54 playground balls and four pumps was approved by the PTA. After the meeting, ELP teacher Nancy Foley guided the group through the ball selection process and the students developed a plan to help ensure that the new equipment is properly maintained. The students will distribute the new playground balls to the kindergarten through sixth-grade classrooms in early February.

 

Tjeerdsma is Teacher of the Year Finalist

TjeerdsmaT.jpg

A goal to see all students succeed drives the Crossroads Park educator chosen for a statewide honor.

Sixth-grade teacher Tamara Tjeerdsma was selected as one of five finalists for the Iowa Teacher of the Year award. She will be honored with the other finalists and award winner Clemencia Spizzirri of Des Moines at a ceremony in March.

Tjeerdsma has been with West Des Moines Community Schools since 2004, teaching at Western Hills and Westridge elementaries before moving to Crossroads Park this year. She previously taught at schools in Kansas and also northwest Iowa and served as an adjunct professor at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan.

A tough childhood spurred her interest in helping kids. Being part of the foster system from the age of 5 showed her the need to make sure children didn’t fall through the cracks, Tjeerdsma said, and she initially majored in social work in college to “change the ills I thought were still part of society.”

A junior-year social work program based at a school caused Tjeerdsma to rethink her plans and switch to education. She recalled how two educators had shown interest in her as a child and decided teaching was the best way for her to improve children’s lives. Her reward now is seeing students gain confidence and realize they can succeed inside and outside the classroom.

“I’m here to invest in children from all walks of life,” she said. “This is where my passion is, this is where my love is.”

Dr. Lindsay Grow, an assistant professor of education at Grand View University, nominated Tjeerdsma in April for the annual state award. Tjeerdsma mentored Grow during Grow’s first years of teaching at Western Hills.

“Tamara’s ability to inspire students, communicate with parents and work with colleagues is superior,” Grow wrote in her nomination letter. “She is always looking for innovative ideas and ways to adapt and differentiate the curriculum to meet the needs of the learners in her class.”

Tjeerdsma has taught fourth through sixth grades along with math-specific curriculum throughout her career. She’s held several collaborative roles in the West Des Moines district, such as serving on the Online Learning Committee and the Professional Development Leadership Team. She also was the facilitator of the Partners for Student Success program at Westridge.

It’s important for teachers to work together, she said. “I truly believe in collaboration and I’ve learned alongside incredible individuals.”

That interaction extends to the parents as well. Sixth-grade students in particular are facing emotional and physical changes along with academic growth, she said, and her role is to give parents the support needed to encourage their children at home as well as at school.

Former students sometimes send Tjeerdsma letters expressing their gratitude for the encouragement she provided. Those notes remind her of the important roles teachers have in the lives of their students.

“Each one of us never knows the difference we may make,” she said.

 

Counselors Play Key Role in Students’ Lives

wdm.counselors

School counselors offer a wide range of services beyond helping students choose classes and navigate the college application process. West Des Moines Community Schools offers programs and activities through its Counseling Department to help students build self-esteem, prevent bullying, and make healthy life choices.

With a counselor at each elementary building, two at each of the junior-high schools, one at Walnut Creek Campus, and seven at Valley High School, there’s always support available to help students and their parents meet a challenge. Counselors ensure students are meeting curriculum benchmarks along with personal and scholastic goals. They also provide emotional support and step forward in a crisis to meet students’ needs.

Counselors at the elementary level play a unique role in students’ growth. They introduce children to the district’s program of support and help young children take their first steps toward self-worth, personal safety, and more. To celebrate National School Counseling Week, we asked Westridge counselor Pattie Klein to share some highlights offered by elementary-building counselors during a recent staff-development meeting.

Q: National School Counseling Week is Feb. 2-6. Do counselors in the district have any special events or activities planned to celebrate or raise awareness of what the district offers?

A: We all have school-wide celebrations in recognition of our school counselors during National School Counseling Week. Every school plans their own celebration so that students and staff can participate.

Q: In the past, there may have been a negative connotation in some students’ minds about being “sent to the counselor’s office.” But today, counselors offer a wider variety of support for students. How have the services offered by counselors evolved over the years?

A: We are an integral part of our buildings and have developed rapport with our students in a way that makes the students more comfortable and willing to seek the support of a counselor. Most students want to have experiences with their school counselor, whether it is in a small group, a new student group, or a lunch bunch!

Q: Do the counselors from across the district work on any special staff development projects? Do they get together to work on issues and create strategies, for example?

A: The elementary counselors have worked together to develop their curriculum, which is developmental, sequential and articulated. We meet as a K-12 group annually, but otherwise do not have time to collaborate; however, we do meet regularly for committee work such as on our District Anti-Bullying Committee.

Q: Are there certain topics that counselors focus on for the various grade levels of elementary students?

A: While additional themes may be covered, these are the core issues addressed at every elementary school in the district:
Kindergarten: Cooperation, feelings, character education, personal safety, career readiness, social skills and manners, self-esteem, social/emotional learning, and learner behaviors.
First grade: Empathy, conflict resolution, and personal safety.
Second grade: Friendship, bullying prevention, and anger management.
Third grade: Bullying prevention, self-esteem and strengths, and personal safety.
Fourth grade: Prejudice, discrimination and diversity, decision making, and bullying prevention.
Fifth grade: Personal safety and digital citizenship, bullying prevention, and loss and change.
Sixth grade: Bullying prevention, study skills, and transitioning to junior high.

For more information on counseling services and programs offered throughout the district, visit the Counseling Department’s web page. Follow the links to a staff directory, resources and details on the district’s programs.