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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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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.

Topics: Budget, School Board News

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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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