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School Board to Review Revised Cost-Saving Package Dec. 21

icon_financialThe 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.

School Board Meeting Agenda and Materials

 

Budget Reduction Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2016-17 (Dec. 21, 2015)

Budget Reduction Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2016-17 (Dec. 21, 2015) PDF

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

 

Topics: Budget, School Board News

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Cost-Saving Measures Presented, Public Feedback Sessions Scheduled

icon_financialOn Monday, Nov. 23, district administrators presented 15 possible cost-saving measures for the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education to review to help address growing expenses as revenue declines.

Proposed Cost-Saving Measures

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. Cut China trip expenses and visitors from China.

  • Estimated Savings: $80,000
  • 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 to pay 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 or sell ads to cover the production costs.

4. Remove all non-essential classroom printers. (Sales Tax Fund Saving for Device, General Fund for Supplies & Maintenance)

  • Estimated Savings: $30,000
  • Details: The estimated savings is based on reduced printing budgets  and removal of non-essential printers.

5. Eliminate Gallup Teacher Insight screening tool & replace with Teacher Fit and Job 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. Holding meetings (grade level) after school hours. Hourly pay in lieu of a sub. (Pilot)

  • 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 some 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. Replace outsourced security with newly hired support staff.

  • Estimated Savings: $20,400
  • Details: Valley High School currently contracts with the Conley Group for four security guards. This option proposes the district hiring support staff to cover these duties.

9. Reduce summer days at secondary level – Flat percentage (10 percent = $4,600, exclusive of Counselors, non-categorical)

  • 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 planning period for department chairpersons at Valley High School (.125 FTE $95,000).

  • Estimated Savings: $95,000
  • Details: Subject-area or department chairpersons are selected at each building site with related duties. Certified staff members in grades 10-12 receive an additional planning period for this work. This option would require each department chairperson at Valley High School to teach an additional period.

11. Eliminate Japanese.

  • 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.

12. Phase out German by not offering German I (.25 FTE).

  • Estimated Savings: $12,800
  • Details: Valley Southwoods Freshman High School offers German I and Valley High School offers German I, II, III, and IV as full-year elective courses. German is one of six world languages offered at Valley.

13. (A) Eliminate 1st & 2nd Grade FLES. Keep FLES in 3rd-6th grades.

  • Estimated Savings: $143,300
  • Details: The district’s current Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) program provides Spanish instruction for 60 minutes each week in grades one-six.

13. (B) Eliminate 1st-3rd Grade FLES. Keep FLES in 4th-6th grades.

  • Estimated Savings: $197,000
  • Details: Based on feedback provided by the School Board at its Nov. 23 workshop, an alternate #13 option is being reviewed. The alternate option proposes eliminating FLES in grades one-three and maintaining instruction in grades four-six.

14. Reduce the number of meeting times for general music in grades 1 – 3 from 90 to 60 minutes.

  • Estimated Savings: $123,000
  • Details: The district currently provides general music instruction in grades one- six for 90 minutes every week. This proposal reduces that amount to 60 minutes per week for grades one-three, providing the same number of instructional minutes as provided for physical education and art.

15. 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 and provide openings to 4-year-olds preschoolers, for which there is state funding. This option would maintain all current preschool teacher positions.

These 15 options total an estimated $710,607 in savings. 2014 Tregoe List of Cost-Saving Options (Unimplemented) 

Learn More and Provide Your Feedback

The district is offering staff and the community several ways to learn more about these options and provide feedback. District administration will be available on the following dates to share information and listen to feedback:

  • ​​Monday, Nov. 30, at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.
  • ​​Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 3:30 p.m. in the Staplin Center at Valley High School, 3650 Woodland Avenue, in West Des Moines.
  • ​​Tuesday, Dec. 8, at
    • 12:00 p.m. noon in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.
    • 3:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.
    • 4:45 p.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.
  • ​​Saturday, Dec. 12, at 9 a.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.

Cost-Saving Measures Presentation (Presentation at Public Feedback Sessions)

In addition, an online feedback form is available.

  • Online Feedback Form – The form is now closed. Thank you to everyone who provided input. The feedback will be shared with the budget advisory committee and the Board of Education.

More information about the district’s finances and budget is available here: Budget & Finance

Topics: Budget

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Cost-Saving Measures Reviewed

icon_financialDuring its workshop session on Monday, Nov. 23, the district administration will present possible cost-saving measures for the 2016-17 school year to the School Board.

  • To learn more about the proposed recommendations, please click here
  • For the latest budget updates, please click here.

Topics: Budget

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Dollars & Cents: The Budget in ‘General’

The West Des Moines Community Schools has a combined budget totaling approximately $150 million dollars. The budget is divided into 10 separate funds as required by Iowa law. Iowa law also directs where the revenue for each one of these funds comes from and how the money can be spent.

At $98 million, the General Fund is the largest of the district’s 10 funds and nearly all operating costs are paid from this account.  Below is a snapshot of the sources of revenue for the General Fund and what that revenue purchases.

en español

Budget-Graphic

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Dollars & Cents: Spending and Enrollment Down

icon_financial

The West Des Community School District spent less money than budgeted last year in its ongoing effort to manage expenses as education costs continue to outpace funding statewide.

This positive budget news was dampened in mid-October when the official enrollment count showed approximately 132 fewer students in the district than last year. Each WDMCS student in kindergarten through 12th grade generates $6,446 in revenue, making enrollment a significant factor.

Current projections indicate the district will still need to reduce spending. District leadership may propose a reduction of $1 million or less for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Meeting since June, a committee of parents and district employees is reviewing budget information with the goal to provide a recommendation to the School Board in late November about how the district can reduce spending.

The committee is following the Tregoe decision-making process used during the district’s budget planning two years ago, and it is starting with the list of suggested cuts created at that time by community members, parents, and district employees. The group has not made any decisions at this time and will continue to meet through November. A list of the committee members is available online.

Enrollment and past spending are two key factors in planning the 2016-17 budget. The district will not be able to finalize the budget until state funding is determined by the legislature, which begins meeting in January.

 

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School Board Meets with Senator

Iowa Senator Charles Schneider

Senator Charles Schneider (Photo source: www.legis.iowa.gov)

During a workshop held Oct. 26, the School Board met with Iowa Senator Charles Schneider (R – District 22) to discuss education funding and legislation. Each legislator representing the district was invited to attend the meeting. Schneider said he understands funding is top priority for education, but also acknowledged that state revenue may not increase as expected based on current estimates. The Board shared its legislative priorities, which are available at http://bit.ly/WDMCSlegislativepriorities16.

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Dollars and Cents: Committee to Identify Cost Savings

The West Des Moines Community School District anticipates reducing spending again for 2016-17, as the costs of providing educational services continues to increase at a greater rate than state funding.

Based on projections last year, the district sought to reduce costs from its nearly $115 million budget. Administration identified $400,000 in reductions through hiring savings, staffing reductions from retirements and resignations, and reducing overtime.

In her report to the School Board in April, Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy said she would gather a committee of parents, community members, and employees help identify savings for fiscal year 2017.

The committee met in June and July to review the district’s current fiscal status and the elements needed to begin developing the 2016-17 budget. Some of those factors will not be known until later this fall. The committee’s goal is to submit a cost-saving recommendations to the school board by December.

Topics: Budget

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Board Approves Budget, Calls for State Funding

On Monday, April 13, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved its preliminary budget at $150 million, maintaining the district’s property tax rate at $13.27 per $1,000 valuation. According to state law, school districts must adopt a budget for the upcoming school year by April 15.

The approved budget may need to be adjusted because the state legislature has not determined how much funding it will provide schools.

Under Iowa law, the legislature was to approve school funding – called Supplement State Aid – for the 2015-16 school year during last year’s legislative session. This was not completed. There will be no increase in state funding for education if the legislature fails to take action. As of last week, the Governor and House were supportive of 1.25 percent for fiscal year 2015-16, while the Senate originally passed 6 percent, then 4 percent, and most recently proposed 2.625 percent. The legislature remained at an impasse last week.

The School Board passed a resolution Monday night encouraging the Governor’s Office to break the impasse and set state aid at no less than 2.624% for 2015-16 and no less than 6 percent for 2016-17.

The resolutions states, “At the supplemental state aid rate of 1.25 percent, Iowa will drop to more than $1,600 per student below the national per student funding average. The past 10 years of state aid have not allowed schools to keep up with the cost of living, collective bargaining settlements, utilities, IPERS contributions, school improvement efforts, and other program initiatives that would benefit students, etc. The March 19, 2015 Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) set the 2015 revenue estimate at a 4.3 percent growth rate and set the FY 2016 estimate at 6.0 percent. With this above average revenue growth, it is time to properly fund public schools. Legislative action delayed beyond statutory requirements creates economic inefficiencies by compressing the district’s work load into a very short window of time in order for the district to meet its Chapter 20 contractual obligation dates. This cost is borne by all local property tax payers.”

The full resolution is available at: http://bit.ly/1ysyOyd.

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School Board Addresses Budget Reductions March 10

Budget Logo

 

 

 

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will address the final budget reduction proposal on Monday, March 10 at 7:00 p.m. The Board will also hold a work session at 5:15 p.m. during which they will review the 2014-15 certified budget.

Some of the items being proposed include closing Phenix Early Childhood Center, eliminating the district’s half-day kindergarten program, eliminating first grade assistants and reducing Level 1 special education program assistants.

The full proposal is available here: Final Budget Reduction Proposal

The proposal is being submitted after a four-month process, which included gathering reduction ideas and feedback from parents, community members and employees. This included holding several public meetings to provide information on the budget, the process being used to determine reductions and to gather feedback on possible reductions.

 

When will the School Board vote on the budget reductions?

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will address the final budget reduction proposal on Monday, March 10 at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines.

School Board Meeting Agenda

School Board Meeting Information Packet

 

Where can I find the final list of items being proposed to cut?

The final budget reduction proposal being submitted to the School Board is available here:

Final Budget Reduction Proposal

 

Where can I find information about the district’s budget situation?

 

 

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Budget News: Parent Forums Scheduled – Be Informed, Share Feedback

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 Please note that the Feb. 17 meeting has been rescheduled for noon on Friday, Feb. 21.

This is a reminder that the West Des Moines Community Schools will hold three public meetings to provide district families the opportunity to give feedback on proposed budget cutting options.

The parent meetings will be held in the Community Room at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines on:

  • Saturday, Feb. 15 from 9-10:30 a.m.
  • Monday, Feb. 17 from 12-1:30 p.m. RESCHEDULED: Friday, Feb. 21 12:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 18 from 7-8:30 p.m.

 

How can I advocate for a program, school or area or show my support for a specific reduction option?

There are several ways:

  1. Attend one of the meetings listed above. They are being structured specifically to provide information about the district’s budget and the reduction options and to gather feedback.
  2. Fill out the online feedback form available here through Monday, Feb. 24 at 5:00 p.m. (CST) The feedback form is now closed. Thank you for your input.
  3. Email WDMCS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy at remyl@wdmcs.org.
  4. Attend the Monday, Feb. 24 School Board meeting, which will start at 7 p.m. at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines.

Where can I find the budget reduction items?
The list of options generated by parents, community members, staff, teachers, administrators, employee unions and School Board members are here  Budget Reduction Options (page 12).

Who will be at the parent meetings?
The following people will be at the meetings:

  • Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy
  • Chief Financial Officer Paul Bobek
  • Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Dr. Laurene Lanich
  • Interim Superintendent of Human Resources Carol Seid
  • Director of School/Community Relations Elaine Watkins-Miller

 Where can I find information about the district’s budget situation?

What is the timeline for the budgeting process?
The district has been working on the current budget reduction process since October 2013. The final budget reduction packet is tentatively set to go before the School Board on March 10 in order to proceed with planning for the next fiscal year. For more information on the budget timeline, please visit  Budget Reduction Process Timeline 

 

 

 

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