The district administration of the West Des Moines Community Schools will present a revised budget-reduction package to the School Board at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21, in the Community Room of the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.
The administration presented an initial package with 15 proposed cost-saving measures to the School Board for its review on Nov. 23. The measures were developed through a Budget Advisory Committee representing employees, students, and community members.
The measures were then shared during six community feedback sessions and through an online feedback form.
The Budget Advisory Committee reconvened on Dec. 16 to review community feedback and develop a modified recommendation. The modified proposal was presented at superintendent advisory committee meetings, which subsequently further refined the recommendation.
The revised recommendation includes 13 proposed cost-saving measures totaling an estimated $559,214 in savings.
The Board will also hold a workshop at 5:15 p.m. in the Fairmeadows Room at the Learning Resource Center, during which it will review the district’s audit report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.
Budget Reduction Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2016-17 (Dec. 21, 2015)
1. Eliminate 360 feedback
- Estimated Savings: $10,500
- Details: The 360 Feedback is an HR-related tool through which employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them, such as peers, managers, and direct reports. Iowa law requires teachers receive some type of feedback and a less expensive feedback tool would be sought.
2. Reduce China trip expenses
- Estimated Savings: $70,000
- Details: The district hosts visitors from a sister-school in Shijiazhuang, China and sends students and staff to China. The budgeted costs go toward hosting activities and pays for staff travel.
3. Eliminate printed school district activity calendar.
- Estimated Savings: $7,000
- Details: The printed activities calendar is currently provided to district parents and staff free of charge. The estimated savings is from printing costs only. All information is available online in the district’s online calendar. Possible options are to charge for the calendar.
4. Reduce printing budgets districtwide
- Estimated Savings: $30,000
- Details: The estimated savings is based on reduced printing budgets across the district.
5. Eliminate Gallup Teacher Insight screening tool & replace with Teacher Fit
- Estimated Savings: $16,700
- Details: Gallup Teacher Insight is an online assessment used as part of the application process. Teacher Fit and Job Fit are similar application process tools.
6. Pilot holding meetings after school hours. Hourly pay in lieu of a substitute teacher
- Estimated Savings: $2,000
- Details: There are meetings held during the school day in the district that teachers attend. When this occurs, a substitute teacher must be hired to cover classes. This option proposes holding one of these meetings after school outside the contracted hours and paying teachers an hourly amount to attend. This would be a pilot program.
7. Eliminate Des Moines Art Center Scholarships
- Estimated Savings: $6,707
- Details: The district provides funds for approximately 50 students to attend classes at the Des Moines Art Center during the summer.
8. Restructure Valley High School security contract
- Estimated Savings: $20,682
- Details: Valley High School currently contracts with the Conley Group for four security guards. This revised proposal keeps Conley security services, but at a reduced price. The restructured contract would save the district $20,682, which is an additional savings of $282 compared to the original proposed option.
9. Reduce summer days at secondary level – Flat percentage (10% = $4,600, exclusive of Counselors, non-categorical funds)
- Estimated Savings: $4,600
- Details: There are approximately eight certified staff members who work additional days in the summer due to position duties and who are paid for those days.
10. Eliminate Japanese language program
- Estimated Savings: $38,600
- Details: Valley Southwoods Freshman High School offers Japanese I and Valley High School offers Japanese I, II, III, and IV as full-year elective courses. Japanese is one of six world languages offered at Valley. Options would be provided for students currently taking Japanese to complete their studies. With this reduction, the number of world languages offered remains one of the largest in the Des Moines-metro area.
11. Eliminate 1st through 3rd grade FLES. Keep FLES in 4th through 6th grades.
- Estimated Savings: $197,000
- Details: The district’s current Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) program provides Spanish instruction for 60 minutes each week in grades one-six. This proposal would continue to offer 60 minutes of Spanish instruction each week in grades four-six. This would allow the district to provide additional time for reading instruction, which will assist in our efforts to have all students proficient in reading by the end of third grade as required by state law. The district would remain one of the few in the state to offer a world language at the elementary level.
12. Eliminate 3-year-old general education preschool
- Estimated Savings: $120,000
- Details: The district currently offers 3-year-old general education preschool at a subsidized cost to parents. This option would eliminate the 3-year-old general education preschool. The proposal would allow the district to expand the number of four-year-old preschoolers served, generating state funding. This option maintains current preschool teacher positions.
13. Eliminate Hanover Research contract
- Estimated Savings: 35,425
- Details: The district has contracted with Hanover Research for the past four years to assist the administration with conducting research, administering surveys, and evaluating programs to determine effectiveness.
Estimated Total Savings: $559,214