District News

Congratulations to Our 2017 Graduates!

The West Des Moines Community Schools proudly announces that 678 students will graduate from the district this year.

See the list of Valley High School graduates.

See the list of Walnut Creek Campus graduates.

Congratulations, Graduates! 678 graduates (608 Valley High School graduates, 70 Walnut Creek Campus graduates) 647 traditional diplomas 25 core diplomas 6 Certificates of Attendance (for international students)

Vea esta imagen en español.

Graduation Dates and Times

  • Walnut Creek Campus Commencement
    Thursday, May 25, at 7 p.m.
    Staplin Performing Arts Center at Valley High School
    3650 Woodland Ave., West Des Moines
  • Valley High School Commencement
    Sunday, May 28, at 12:30 p.m.
    Drake Knapp Center
    2601 Forest Ave., Des Moines

Last Day of School

  • Thursday, May 25, will be the last day of school for seniors at Valley High School and Walnut Creek Campus.

Seniors Come Home

Thirteen Resources for Talking About “13 Reasons Why”

Official "13 Reasons Why" image: Teenage boy wearing headphones stands in front of a mirror. The mirror shows a reflection of a teenage girl. Text: A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES. BASED ON THE BEST SELLING MYSTERY. 13 REASONS WHY. IF YOU'RE LISTENING, YOU'RE TOO LATE.

Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” based on the young adult novel by Jay Asher, has initiated a lot of discussion surrounding teenage mental health. In the series and book, the teenage characters learn about their classmate’s reasons for dying by suicide after her death. The series has proved popular with teenagers and been renewed for a second season.

There is concern in the suicide prevention community that the series glamorizes suicide, sends detrimental messages about mental health, and could be triggering, especially for young people. The series graphically depicts suicide, rape, survivor’s guilt, and other emotionally complex topics that students may not be prepared to process on their own.

District counseling staff want to provide West Des Moines Community Schools families with resources to support discussions about suicide, trauma, and the “13 Reasons Why” series. Please let your school staff and counselors know if there are other ways we can be of assistance to your family.

See the WDMCS Community Education blog post “Thirteen Resources for Talking About ’13 Reasons Why.'”

Register for 2017-18 Transportation

The WDMCS transportation department encourages families to register for 2017-18 transportation services and reserve their student’s seat.

Registering is easy! You may register online or by calling the automated 24 hour a day phone line at 515-633-4990.

Transportation information will be mailed to you in early August.

If you have any questions, please call 515-633-4902.

Valley Senior T.J. Foley’s Nonprofit Fills Global Gaps

Like many high school seniors, Valley High School student T.J. Foley is getting ready to graduate. Unlike most, he will graduate with experience as the founder and CEO of a non-profit organization, The Globus Project. Thanks in part to his work with The Globus Project, Foley has been awarded a four-year, full-tuition scholarship by The Bryan Cameron Education Foundation: one of the largest standalone academic scholarships ever received by a Valley student.

Learn more about Foley’s non-profit organization, scholarship, and personal mission.

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 (download log in directions) and verify their benefits. Any changes will be effective starting July 1, 2017.

NOTICE TO 9-10 MONTH EMPLOYEES: Changes in benefits will be reflected on your 10/5/17 paycheck.  This may result in additional premiums for July and August or refunds in premium if applicable.

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.