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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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Dollars & Cents: Spending and Enrollment Down

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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.

 

Topics: Budget

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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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School Board Addresses Budget Reductions March 10

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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?

 

 

Topics: School Board News

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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 

 

 

 

Topics: School Board News

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Public Meetings Set for Feedback on Budget-Cutting Options

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The West Des Moines Community Schools will hold three public meetings to provide district families and community members the opportunity to provide feedback on proposed budget cutting options.

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

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

Meetings are also being schedule for employees. The district’s preliminary budget-cutting package is currently scheduled to be reviewed by the School Board at its February 10 meeting.

More than 150 total cost-saving suggestions were submitted by staff, parents and community members January 2-14 through an online submission form as part of the district’s budgeting process. In addition, building principals, district administrators, the employee unions and the Superintendent Advisory Committees, which include School Board members, generated more than a total of 200 cost-saving suggestions.

A final cost-cutting package recommendation will go to the School Board in March.

The district plans to reduce approximately $3 million each year for the next two years based on preliminary budget estimates. The district is using a decision-making process call Tregoe to determine ways to reduce spending.

Topics: School Board News

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Preliminary Budget-Cutting Proposal to Go to School Board in February

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The district’s preliminary budget-cutting package is currently scheduled to be reviewed by the School Board at its February 10 meeting.

The goal was originally to have the School Board review the draft package in January.

However, due to the large number of cost-cutting ideas submitted by staff, administrators, parents and community members, the Business Services and Human Resources departments are still working to document the costs associated with each option.

More than 150 total cost-saving suggestions were submitted by staff, parents and community members January 2-14 through an online submission form as part of the district’s budgeting process.

In addition, building principals, district administrators, the employee unions and the Superintendent Advisory Committees, which include School Board members, generated more than a total of 200 cost-saving suggestions.

The district is working on scheduling meetings in February for staff, parents and the community to provide feedback on the proposed cost-cutting package before the administration submits a final package recommendation to the School Board in March. The dates and times of the staff and community meetings will be announced once they are finalized.

The district plans to reduce approximately $3 million each year for the next two years based on preliminary budget estimates. The district is using a decision-making process call Tregoe to determine ways to reduce spending.

 

Want More Information? Have a Question?

For more information on the budget and the process being used to make reduction decisions, please see the resources below:

Budget Articles

Budget Information

Tregoe Decision-Making Process

Timeline

  • Have a question about the district’s budget? Please email WDMCS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy at remyl@wdmcs.org.

Topics: School Board News

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Parents & Community Submit Over 150 Cost-Saving Ideas

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More than 150 cost-saving suggestions were submitted by parents and community members Jan. 2-14 through an online submission form as part of the district budgeting process. The WDMCS plans to reduce approximately $3 million each year for the next two years based on preliminary budget estimates. The district is using a decision-making process call Tregoe to determine ways to reduce spending.

On Jan. 16, building principals and department directors scored the submitted items against a set of 13 evaluation criteria. Prior to this, the district and building leaders also submitted ideas and scored the additional suggestions along with those submitted by the employee unions.

The School Board will review the suggested cost-cutting items in January. In February/March, parents and community members will be invited to provide feedback on the proposed cost-cutting package before it is submitted to the School Board in March for approval.

Budget Myth Buster No. 2
Myth
 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.

Topics: School Board News

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Budget News: Help Us Brainstorm Cost-Cutting Ideas

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The West Des Moines Community School District is seeking suggestions from parents and community members on ways to reduce district expenses.

As reported earlier, financial estimates show the district must reduce approximately $3 million from the general fund each year for the next two years. The district is using a process called Tregoe to make cost-cutting decisions.

 

Submit Your Idea!

  • Click here for the Submission Form THIS FORM IS NOW CLOSED. Thank you to all those who submitted an idea. We had over 200 entries!
  • Online form open from January 2 to January 14.

 

What’s Next?

In addition to your ideas, building principals and district administrators have begun developing options. The employee unions—West Des Moines Education Association and the West Des Moines Educational Support Personnel Association—were also asked to provide ideas. Suggested options will also be requested from Superintendent Advisory Committees, which include School Board members.

The suggested ideas will be submitted to the district’s Business Services Department to document costs associated to the proposed options.

Beginning January 16, the building principals and district administrators will then score each option against a set of evaluation criteria.

In February/March, parents will be invited to provide feedback on the proposed cost-cutting package before it is submitted to the School Board in March.

 

Want More Information?

For more information on the budget and the process being used to make reduction decisions, please see the resources below:

Budget Articles

Budget Information

Tregoe Decision-Making Process

Timeline

Topics: School Board News

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Budget News: Budget Cutting Criteria Selected

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As recently reported, early financial estimates show the district must reduce approximately $3 million from the general fund each year for the next two years. The district is using a process called Tregoe to make cost-cutting decisions.

The process uses a step-by-step approach to set objectives, organize and prioritize information, evaluate options and understand the impact of possible choices.

The first step was to identify how much money needs to be cut.

The second step was to develop the criteria to be used to evaluate suggested cost cutting ideas. The district administration has developed the criteria with input from several groups, including:

  • Parent representatives from each school who are members of the School Community Network
  • Teacher representatives who are members of the West Des Moines Education Association
  • Staff representatives who are members of the West Des Moines Educational Support Personnel Association
  • Building principals
  • District administrators
  • School Board

The final criteria is available here:

Evaluation Criteria

To learn more about the Tregoe process and budget reduction timeline, please see the resources below.

Timeline

Tregoe Process

Topics: School Board News

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