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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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School Board Meets with Senator

Iowa Senator Charles Schneider

Senator Charles Schneider (Photo source:

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

Topics: Budget, School Board News

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Poole Elected School Board President

our school board  members_Poole

Dr. Vicky Poole

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education elected Dr. Vicky Poole as its president and Tali Greenspon as its vice president on September 21.

Each year, the school board chooses a president and vice president. The president preside at all meetings of the Board, signs contracts and school district warrants approved by the board, and more.  The vice president serves in the absences of the president.

our school board  members_Greenspon

Tali Greenspon

Poole was elected to the school board in 2013 and is retired from the West Des Moines Community School District, where she served as principal of Valley High School (2000–2011) and as associate principal (1996–2000). Greenspon was also elected in 2013 and is an account executive at Competitive Edge, Inc.

The board also appointed school board member Melinda Dunnwald to serve as the board’s representative on the district’s School Community Network, which is a committee of parents, teachers, and administrators.

Board Member Jill Caton Johnson, Ph.D., was appointed as the board’s representative on the West Des Moines Community Schools Foundation and Liz Cox was appointed as the board’s representative on the Iowa Association of School Boards‘ Delegate Assembly.

WDMCS Board of Education Information

School Board Meeting Agendas

Follow board meetings live on Twitter!

Topics: School Board News

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School Board Election 2015

This post was frequently updated with information about the Sept. 8, 2015, WDMCS school board election. (Final Update: Sept. 21, 2015)

Election Results     School Board Reception Information

vote_boywithsignSchool board elections will be held this year on Tuesday, Sept. 8. There will be four seats on the ballot.

The school board represents the parents and citizens of our community. In the West Des Moines Community Schools, school board members are elected at-large, or represent the entire school district. They receive no compensation for their service.

Each school board member is elected for a term of four years. Terms are staggered to ensure continuity of leadership.


Key Election Dates – 2015

The following are a few key dates for in the school board election process. Please see the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office website for more information.

  • Monday, July 6: First day to file nomination papers with the board secretary.
  • Thursday, July 30: Last day to file nomination papers. Deadline is 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4: Last day candidates may withdraw. Last day written objections to nomination papers or eligibility of candidate may be filed.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 8: School Election Day.


Public School Board Candidate Forums

UPDATED Sept. 2 — Coverage of both forums is online.

  • Historical Valley Junction Foundation & West Des Moines Education Association Forum, August 1, 2015 from 9:30-10:30 a.m., West Des Moines Community Center, 217 5th Street, West Des Moines. A video of this forum is available online.
  • WDM Chamber of Commerce Forum, Aug. 31, 2015, from 7-9 p.m. The West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce invites area residents to meet the eight candidates running for four seats on the West Des Moines Community School District’s School Board. The Des Moines Register’s coverage of the forum is available online.


Candidate Information

UPDATED Sept. 2 — Links to the Des Moines Register’s candidate coverage have been added.

The filing period for school board candidates ended at 5 p.m. on July 30. The following individuals have filed nomination papers:

  • Incumbent David J. Brown, 5870 Highland Circle, West Des Moines, is vice president of compliance at Principal Financial Group. He is a graduate of Valley High School. He received his bachelor’s degree in German from Lawrence University and his law degree from the University of Iowa. Family:  Wife Julie; three children – Ross is a 2010 graduate of Valley; Keegan is a 2012 graduate; and Chase is a sophomore at Valley.
  • Incumbent H. Milton Cole, 2001 S. 40th Court, West Des Moines, is a retired Episcopal priest. His undergraduate studies were in sociology and anthropology at The College of William and Mary in Virginia and social welfare at Virginia Commonwealth University; his master’s degrees are in early childhood and elementary education from The University of The District of Columbia and in divinity from The New York General Theological Seminary; and his doctoral studies are in higher education at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Family: Wife Mary; three children – George is a graduate of Valley High School; Leah is a senior at Valley; and Mary-Scout is a sophomore at Valley.
  • Liz Cox, 4802 Plumwood Drive, West Des Moines, is Principal owner of Due North + Associates. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Dakota. Family: Husband Thomas; three children – Megan Cox is a 2014 graduate of Valley High School, Emma is a senior at Valley, and Sam is a junior at Valley.
  • Michele Dahlen, 617 34th St., West Des Moines, is a financial consultant Wells Fargo Consumer Lending Group. She received her accounting degree from Gustavus Adolphus College. Family: Husband Matt; three children – Grace is a junior at Valley, Grant is a freshman at Valley Southwoods, and Greta is a seventh grader at Stilwell.
  • Melinda Dunnwald, 5837 Meadow Valley Court, West Des Moines, received her bachelor’s degree in speech communications from Iowa State University and her master’s degree in business communication from the University of St. Thomas. Family: Husband Jeff; two children – Dayna is an eighth grader and Drew is a seventh grader, both at Stilwell.
  • Judy Jesse, 13533 Village Court, Clive, is a retired teacher, administrator and university clinical supervisor. She received her bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of Northern Iowa, her master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Northern Iowa, and her doctorate in K-12 administration with a superintendent endorsement from Drake University. Family: Husband Bob.
  • Jill Johnson, 213 S. 31st St., West Des Moines, is an associate professor of education at Drake University. She received her bachelor’s in elementary education and her masters in early childhood education from the University of Iowa, and her doctorate in curriculum and instruction, literacy education from the University of Minnesota. Family: Husband Tom Johnson; two children – Jack is an eighth grader and Caton is a seventh grader, both at Stilwell.
  • Incumbent Andi Lipman, 316 46th Place, West Des Moines, is an attorney. She is a graduate of Valley High School. She received her bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Iowa. Family: Husband Jeff; four children – Arielle is a 2010 graduate of Valley, Dani is a 2015 graduate, Meier is a junior at Valley, and Asher is a fifth grader at Western Hills.

Dr. Kevin Carroll is not seeking re-election.

A candidate must be an eligible elector in the school district at the time of the election. An eligible elector must be a citizen of the United States, be a resident of Iowa, and be at least 18 years old.

Each candidate must file an affidavit of candidacy and nomination petitions with the school board secretary. The affidavit of candidacy and nomination petitions must be filed together or they will be rejected.

The minimum number of signatures required for a petition is 50. Petitions may be signed only by eligible electors within the school district

Nomination Petition

Affidavit of Candidacy

Completed nominating petitions and the affidavit of candidacy may be turned at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, between July 6 and no later than 5 p.m. on July 30.

Please see the following websites for additional information:

Iowa Secretary of State
Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board
Polk County Election Office
Find Your Polling Place
See the Ballot
Election Results and More


Topics: School Board News

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Boundary Change Up For Board Action Dec. 8

On Monday, Dec. 8, the West Des Moines Community Schools district administration will ask the Board of Education to take action on the proposal to change elementary school attendance boundaries beginning with the 2015-16 school year. The proposal will be presented for approval at the School Board’s regular meeting, which begins at 7:00 p.m. at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines. A proposed implementation plan also will be presented. This meeting is open to the public.

The School Board reviewed the proposal at a public workshop on November 24.

The proposed map was recommended to district administration by the district’s boundary committee at its November 17 meeting. The 50-member committee made up of parents, teachers, staff members, administrators and community members, made its recommendation after developing several map scenarios, reviewing district enrollment data and trends, and reviewing public feedback from three public forums and an online survey on two draft maps. In addition, the committee had boundary criteria, which was set by the school board.


Proposed Boundary Map (C5)

Related Enrollment Information

Proposed Implementation Plan


For more information about the boundary study, please see the following link.

Boundary Study Background & Additional Information

Topics: Boundary Study, School Board News

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Budget Update for Fiscal Years 2015 & 2016

At the School Board’s Monday, Oct. 27 meeting, Chief Financial Officer Paul Bobek provided a brief financial report. The West Des Moines Community Schools has developed a draft spending authority budget for fiscal year 2015. As a result of budget reductions last year and efforts to obtain additional spending authority allocations from the School Budget Review Committee, indications are that the district will have a balanced budget for 2015.

This is encouraging news in terms of the district’s need to continue a budget reduction process for the 2016 fiscal year. However, one major factor is unknown.

At this time, school districts do not know if the legislature will appropriate any additional revenue and spending authority for Iowa schools. The state legislature will address this during its 2015 session, which is slated to begin in mid-January.

Administration is working on developing projections prior to the legislature convening. This will help determine if further reductions are needed for the 2016 fiscal year. Preliminary projections are anticipated to be completed in December.

Meeting agendas and full minutes are available on the district website: Follow informal board highlights on Twitter @WDMCS.

Topics: School Board News

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

Budget Logo



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


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

Topics: School Board News

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Board Approves Valley Phase 3 Base Bids

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved base bids for the last phase of the Valley High School project October 24, 2012, with a total contract amount of $25.4 million. This phase of the project primarily includes a new 1,140 seat auditorium, new performing arts practice space and a renovated north academic wing. (more…)

Topics: School Board News

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Advisory Board & “SAMs” Program Approved by Board

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education held a regular meeting on October 22, 2012, and took the following action:

  • approved the consent agenda including personnel resignations, recommendations, support staff new hires, certified staff initial contracts, minutes from the Oct. 8 workshop and meeting;
  • approved a minor modification application for Hillside Elementary for the addition of a 1,500 sq.ft. concrete pad and an 200 sq. ft. expansion of the existing wood mulched swing set area located on the south side of the facility with the use of Site funds; (more…)

Topics: School Board News

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WDMCS Board Approves Retirement Plan, Fresh Fruit Program and More

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education held its annual meeting Sept. 10, 2012, and took the following action:

  • approved the proposed 2013-2014 Early Retirement Plan, which has no changes from the previous year’s plans, to allow eligible district staff to have the opportunity to plan further in advance when making a decision concerning retirement; (more…)

Topics: Education

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