School Board Meets with City, Chamber and DMACC about Academy

Keeping students in the West Des Moines area, offering them career opportunities and providing IT workers for local businesses was the topic of the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Board of Education workshop held Monday, Nov. 19.

“There are five technology companies in West Des Moines that need about 400 technology workers,” City of West Des Moines Director of Community and Economic Development Clyde Evans said.

Evans was joined by West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chris Voggesser and Des Moines Area Community College West Campus Provost Dr. Tony Paustian in presenting the idea of an IT career academy for Valley High School.

Evans said companies are concerned about finding future technology workers to hire. “The reality is if we cannot provide the people, the companies will expand elsewhere,” he explained.

Voggesser said he is hearing from local businesses that they are willing to work with potential employees earlier in life to develop a career, including providing internship programs. The challenge, Paustian said, is getting students interested in careers that require two-year degrees. The reasons for this vary, from an out-dated stigma that these programs are only for low-performing high school graduates to students focused experiencing college life rather than beginning a career.

Paustian explained that a student who graduates from a DMACC IT program can enter the workforce making $40,000 to $80,000 a year. He also provided an Iowa Department of Workforce Development report that shows while middle-skill jobs account for 50 percent of the jobs in the Iowa labor market; only 33 percent of all Iowa workers have the necessary skills to fill these jobs.

This fall, WDMCS Superintendent Dr. Peter Ansingh met with the three men, along with Valley High School Principal Jim Mollison and WDMCS Curriculum Director Shane Scott to learn more about the idea of a career academy. Career academies are programs of study offered to high school students through an agreement or contract between their high school and a community college. They bridge high school and community college Career & Technical Education programs.

According the Iowa Department of Education, career academies are programs of study that combine a minimum of two years of secondary education with an associate degree in a career preparatory program. The career academy is a program of study that is non-duplicative, sequential and ensures that the course of study is skill standards-based, integrates academic and technical instruction, uses work-based and work-site learning where available, uses an individual career planning process with parent involvement and prepares an individual for entry and advancement in a high-skill career field. Career academies can focus on various careers, including technology.

Paustian said they are also talking with Waukee and Van Meter school districts about an IT academy.

Voggesser emphasized that the academy would not replace or duplicate courses already offered at Valley, but complement them and provide an articulated program from Valley to DMACC for a two-year degree in IT.

Ansingh said the purpose of the workshop was for the Board to hear about the academy concept from the three men. He said the next step is working with staff to further discuss the idea.

Other Items

The board also held a regular meeting during which it:

  • Deferred action on the 2013–2014 Early Start Date and proposed District Calendar for 2013–2014 until December 10.
  • Reviewed the Program of Studies Proposals for 2013–2014 and the process for making these changes.
  • Approved the enrollment fee ($2,615) to belong to the IASB consortium for drug and alcohol testing for district CDL holders for the 2013 calendar year. The IASB manages the district’s random testing program as well as its reasonable suspicion testing, post-accident and pre-employment testing.
  • Approved an agreement with Gallup, Inc. ($16,706) for Gallup’s TeacherInsight, a research-based online assessment completed by each teacher applicant that provides depth, ease and speed in screening. The WDMCS seeks to effectively and efficiently screen all teacher applicants, interview candidates whose talents point to having the highest probability of raising student achievement, select candidates with the best fit for the school and district and develop talents of the teachers to promote retention and build even stronger schools.
  • Approved an addendum to the Distributed Website Corporation contract approved by the Board in September for customizations for the School Age Childcare module of the web-based software to fit the current weekly payment structure (not to exceed $21,870).
  • Approved an agreement with Drake University School of Education to provide school personnel with professional development courses for Drake University graduate credit from Jan. 1, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2013. This agreement continues our long and successful partnership with Drake in this initiative and is beneficial to our staff and supports their on-going professional development.
  • Approved a 28E agreement with Des Moines Public Schools to create a Regional Academy per changes in Iowa code that changes the structure of the Central Campus Programs (Central Campus and Central Academy) in form more than substance.
  • Approved the consent agenda including personnel resignations, recommendations, support staff new hires, minutes from the Nov. 5 meeting, a student trip request from the Stilwell Science Bowl Team to travel to the Middle School Science Bowl Competition, a contract with the Polk County Auditor to allow Indian Hills as a polling place for the Special Senate District 22 Election on Dec. 11, 2012.
  • Approved Valley High School Improvements 2011 Phase 2 project change orders to Architectural Arts to add rod storage cabinets at no cost, to Boelter to make kitchen equipment changes at no cost, to Forrest and Associate ($1,927) to install flashing at brick pier caps per KDent requirement, to Hansen Company ($294) to provide and install steel jambs and spacers, to Midwest Automatic Fire Sprinkler to revise room numbers on sprinkler control cabinets at no cost, to Nikkel and Associate, Inc. to provide and install new VFD ($797 owner, $4,355 RDG/KJWW), delete 480 volt feeders and electrical changes (-$2,918), to provide and install emergency lights in two existing classrooms ($1,759), to Olympic Companies to add gypboard at backside of metal framing at stair stringers ($2,794) and to add gypboard column enclosure in dining ($491), to Proctor Mechanical to install insulation around generator exhaust vent ($250) and revise weight room duct layout ($0), to Siemens, Inc. to revise room number on fire alarm and security panels ($0), to Wes Jarnagin to paint metal deck and beams in wrestling room and weight room ($20,576) and paint gypboard at backside of metal framing at stair stringers ($300).
  • Approved Valley High School Improvements 2011 Phase 2A change orders to Heartland Finishes to install mini blinds in dining ($275).
  • Approved VHS Improvements 2011 Phase 3 change order to American Marking to provide and install new signs ($2,770), to revise FEMA signage ($0) and to provide and install new signs in auditorium atrium ($1,070).
  • Approved Stilwell Junior High change orders to Hansen Company Inc. for 36 additional room signs ($2,690), to furnish and install privacy screens at Art/Drama Restroom ($908), to patch floor epoxy at added janitor’s sink in kitchen area ($250), to Olympic Companies Inc. to apply Gyp Board to Art Room ($3015.79), to adjust Ceiling Height in Corridor C1230 ($1,106.62) and rework bulkhead at coiling door header so coiling door can fit into space ($597.75), to the Nikkel and Associates to extend electrical fixtures out to accommodate furred out wall ($742) and remove and reinstall unit heater in room 2155A ($461), to Central Iowa Mechanical to furnish and install 15 Odor Hog Charcoal Filters at plumbing roof vents ($3,069) and to Boelter to remove of additional kitchen items for demolition of kitchen ($1,569.75).
  • Approved a Walnut Creek Campus project change order to L.A. Fulton & Sons to add actuators to heat pumps ($2,357).
  • Denied an open enrollment request for being late and not meeting good cause.
  • Approved to pay the bills dated Nov. 19, 2012 in the amount of $ 5,721,415.41.
  • Held a closed session as provided in section 21.5 (1)(e) of the open meetings law to  consider whether to suspend or expel a student; reconvened the regular meeting; expelled a student until the end of second semester.