District News

Winter Weather and Bus Safety

School busWinter weather means extra caution is needed on the road, especially when it comes to transporting children. The WDMCS transportation department wants to remind all district families of the safety procedures it follows to make sure students remain safe while riding and getting on and off the bus.

Procedures include:

  1. Extra training for bus drivers. All drivers receive training in maintaining traction, driving at reduced speeds, being prepared for unexpected weather condition changes, and increased following distance.
  2. Taking care of the diesel fuel bus engines. It is important to maintain the correct fuel mixture to prevent gelling in cold conditions. The transportation department also plugs in the buses in the winter to keep the oil warm so they consistently start in cold weather.
  3. Teaching students about bus stop safety. While this is always important, it is especially emphasized in the winter months. Drivers will review safety tips, like waiting 10 feet back from the curb and not running to the bus when it arrives, with students.

If weather conditions are severe, there are four main transportation alternatives:

  1. Delay bus routes by a designated time.
  2. Delay school opening time.
  3. Early dismissal. When weather conditions deteriorate during the day, students will be returned via normal bus routes unless otherwise announced.
  4. School closure. Inability to operate the majority of the buses because of weather conditions will require school closure or a delay in starting time.

In each of these cases, buses may run late. If you have any questions or concerns about winter weather procedures, please contact the transportation department at 515-633-4902.

Seven Ways to Achieve Effective, Impactful Conferences

parent-teacher_conferenceParent-teacher conferences are a great way to partner with your child’s teacher or teachers to work on a plan to help your child learn and succeed. Below are some suggestions from district administrators, counselors, teachers, and teacher-leaders for getting the most out of your parent-teacher conference experience.


Emphasize learning.
The best parent-teacher conferences focus on how successfully the child is learning in school, not just point totals. The two are connected, but remember to also look at learning objectives and targets, instead of just missed points. Prepare by reviewing homework, quizzes, and tests before the conference. You can always bring a list of questions to ask the teacher.

Look for excellent opportunities.
Both teachers and parents want children to succeed. You will hear positive feedback about your child, but teachers may also see areas for improvement, even if your child is doing well. Share past challenges and solutions and ask questions like: Is my child performing at grade level? What are his or her strengths? How could he or she improve?

Talk — and listen.
Nobody knows your child the way you do. Have questions prepared, and be open to the answers. If you are surprised by something you hear, let the teacher know. That way, you can come up with a solution as a team.

Make a plan.
Work with your child’s teacher to develop a plan you think will work best for your child. Find out which assignments and projects are coming up and what the teacher’s expectations are for that work. Plan to check in with your child using specific questions to get more specific answers. You can also plan to check in with your child’s teacher periodically throughout the rest of the year at important points.

Stay focused.
Come prepared to take notes, and devote your full attention to the conference. Try to stay within your scheduled time to make the process smoother for everyone. If you feel more time is needed, set a follow-up meeting with the teacher.

Work as a team.
Parents, teachers, and students are all working toward the same goal: student achievement. Use the conference as a time to agree on some common expectations, then discuss ways you can support learning at home.

Include your child.
You are welcome to bring your student to conferences, though it is not required. If you do not bring your child, review the conference with them afterward so expectations are clear. Talk about what you learned about their success and areas where they can improve or goals. Work with your child to determine goals and strategies for reaching those goals. Ask for your child’s ideas to give them a positive sense of ownership.


Parent-teacher conferences are a wonderful opportunity to communicate with your child’s teachers. Even if you know how your child is doing, it is a great way to show support for your child and to work with teachers to guide your child toward success.

Watch for messages from your school that explain the conference procedure, and note if you need to schedule any conferences in advance. If you have questions, email one of your child’s teachers.


Life in the WDMCS 2/8/2016

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 Learning Academy
Sixth-grade learners at Clive Learning Academy learned about eyesight by performing vision screenings on their classmates. They took turns acting as the optometrist and discussed how lenses are used to correct eyesight.

Fifth-graders at Clive Learning Academy took part in a mock caucus on Feb. 1. They learned about the caucus process and introduced the names and faces of the current presidential candidates.

Crestview School of Inquiry
Crestview School of Inquiry received hundreds of books from the Clive Half-Price Books store. The students were able to choose books for their home libraries and read together.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Jordan Creek teachers and students painted Principal Paul Wenger’s hair and goatee orange and black at an all-school assembly at 3 p.m. on Feb. 1. The event was a reward the Jordan Creek students earned by raising more than $19,000 for the Parent Faculty Club during the school’s Spelling Challenge.


Teacher Contract Negotiations to Begin

Teachers for the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) will begin negotiating their 2016-2017 contract on Wednesday, February 10 at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines.

The West Des Moines Education Association (WDMEA) will represent the teachers and present its initial proposal to the school district at 4:30 p.m.  The district will present its 2016-2017 initial proposal to the WDMEA at 4:45 p.m.

Chief negotiators are Phil Peters for the WDMEA and Jim Hanks for the WDMCS.

The negotiation meeting is open to the public.

Current Agreements

Life in the WDMCS 2/1/2016

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 Learning Academy
Fourth-grade learners at Clive Learning Academy made cars in their science lesson on Jan. 25. They used VEX kits and iPads to construct the cars, part of a Project Lead The Way unit.

Clive Learning Academy fifth-graders took a surprise field trip to Iowa State University on Jan. 28. The trip served as the launch of their new Project Lead The Way unit on robotics. They visited the College of Engineering, worked with Iowa State elementary education students at the “Toying with Technology” LEGO® lab, and learned about materials engineering at the Aerospace Engineering building. They also ate lunch and talked with engineering students and took the prospective resident tour.

Crestview School of Inquiry
Preschool students at Crestview School of Inquiry took a field trip to The Laundry Place as part of their clothing unit,.

Hillside Elementary
Hillside kindergartners worked in groups to practice and perform reader’s theater pieces for their classmates. They used simple costumes and illustrated scripts to enhance their performances.

Hillside students in grades 4-6 are learning to knit and crochet in an after-school club. They are working on making homemade hats and scarves.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Third-graders at Jordan Creek have been working on their Forces of Interaction Project Lead The Way unit. The students learned about simple machines and how they help with work. They are working to design and build a model of a compound machine that can lift a plastic tiger out of a moat.

Westridge Elementary
The Westridge Singers choir performed for residents of Wesley Acres in Des Moines on Jan. 31. The fifth- and sixth-grade students shared songs that showcased all the skills they have learned, including rounds and three-part harmony.

Valley High School
Valley High School alum and former National Football League (NFL) player Justin Hartwig presented Valley High School with a commemorative Wilson Golden Football during a basketball game on Friday, Jan. 29. District students and families attend a reception with Hartwig after the game.

Weather Notification Reminder: Feb. 1, 2016

Student safety is always the West Des Moines Community School district’s top priority. With snow and high winds forecast in the next few days, the district wants to remind families of how decisions about weather-related closings, late starts, or early outs are made and how to stay informed.

The district notifies families by phone through its emergency notification system, the district website, social media, and local television and radio stations. Information is also available through our weather hotline.

  • Emergency Notification System. The district’s emergency notification system will notify families through calls made to home, cell, and/or work phone numbers provided to your school and entered into the Infinite Campus data system. To receive a call, make sure you have an Infinite Campus account. If you do not have an account, call your school office. If you have questions or need assistance, your school office can answer your questions or update your information. You may also follow these instructions to change your information:
  • District Website & Social Media. In addition, school closing announcements will be made on the:
  • Weather Hotline. Up-to-the-minute recordings about weather-related closings, late starts, or early outs are available at 515-633-5555. This WDMCS hotline is provided as a service for students, parents, staff, and community members to call if school must be canceled or dismissed early because of weather conditions or other emergencies.
  • Television & Radio. Weather-related announcements are also shared with the local media on television stations KCCI-TV 8, WHO-TV 13, FOX-TV 17, and WOI-TV 5; FM radio stations KISS 107.5, The Bus 100.3, Capitol 106.3, STAR 102.5, KIOA 93.3, Lazer 103.3, Lite 104.1, KGGO 94.9, KJJY 92.5, KWQW 98.3, KHKI 97.9, and KZZQ 99.5; and AM radio stations WHO 1040, KXNO 1460, KRNT 1350, KPSZ 940, KWKY 1150, and Praise 940.

Please visit our Weather Closings page for more information about how and when cancellations, dismissals, and closings are determined.

If the school day is canceled due to inclement weather, the day will be made up beginning Thursday, June 2, 2016.