I have scheduled individual school visits during the month of January. I will spend an hour in each building observing classrooms and visiting with the building principal. I have completed visits at Clive, Hillside, Westridge, Jordan Creek, Phenix and Indian Hills Junior High. I have enjoyed being in classrooms. I have seen students engaged in learning. I was able to observe several different teaching strategies during my visits.
The Administrative Leadership Team spent time on January 9 and 16 scoring budget reduction ideas against the established criteria. The Human Resources Office and the Business Services Office are now putting dollar amounts to the reduction ideas. We will move to part four of the Tregoe process in late January early February. We will schedule time for community feedback on our reduction package, which will help us assess risks. We are on track to have the final budget reduction package to the board for approval in March.
West Des Moines Community Schools Foundation
Elaine and I attended the Foundation board meeting on January 16th. The Foundation board is wanting the school administration and School Board to prepare a list of priorities for its financial support. The Foundation would then start a fundraising campaign to support the list of priorities. We will start with surveying our teachers and administrators and then preparing a recommendation for the School Board to approve. I would like our list of priorities to align with our strategic plan.
Rescheduling Strategic Planning Meeting
The last strategic planning meeting originally scheduled for January 16th was cancelled due to inclement weather and challenging road conditions. We are currently looking at rescheduling the meeting for Thursday, Feb. 13 from 5:00-9:00 p.m. Please let Dr. Remy know if this date and time works for you.
Check Your Calendar! Upcoming Board Meetings
- Jan. 21, 2014: Special Meeting (5:15 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
- Jan. 27, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
- Feb. 10, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
- Feb. 24, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
Teacher Leader and Compensation Grant Application
Our committee has continued to meet and work with an external grant writer to complete the 10 portions of this grant. We continue to share information with key stakeholder groups and engage our staff. More information will be shared with the Board members at a workshop on January 21.
An overview of the Applitrack system for posting, recruiting and hiring processes was shared with the Administrative Leadership Team members and hiring managers. We are implementing this system and work flow for new vacancies and hiring processes. Information for individualized, deeper learning was provided to ALT members and hiring managers to allow for autonomous learning.
2014-15 School Calendar
Each member of the calendar committee was asked to identify the calendar options from which we should ask the community to choose. Four calendar options were selected most frequently to share with the community. All options are based on a calendar with instructional hours. School start date and professional development are two of the differences noted in the options.
Priorities for developing calendars were based on a review of the fall calendar survey data and informal surveys of Valley High School students. Fall calendar surveys and committee discussion noted the benefit of first semester ending at winter break, fairly balanced semesters, professional development for staff and schedules conducive to families of young students and older students with multiple responsibilities and activities.
Examples of alternate calendar schedules and available research will be provided to principals who have noted interest in pursuing support for an alternate or continuous learning calendar pilot in the future.
TEACHING & LEARNING SERVICES (TLS)
Black History Month in February
Posters have been purchased for each school in celebration of Black History Month. The national theme this year is “Civil Rights In America.” Curriculum Directors have asked teachers in their assigned content areas to share ideas with them that could be shared with teachers throughout the district. These ideas along with other resource ideas will be sent out to building principals to share with their teachers.
Early Literacy Implementation Expectations for K-3 Literacy Legislation
Senate File 224 was passed during the 2012 Legislative session. However, funding and specific rules for the legislation were not written at that time and, therefore, there were no expectations at that time for implementation of this legislation by school districts. Funding has now been attached to this legislation and the Iowa Department of Education is responsible for developing the rules and expectations around the legislation for school districts.
The preliminary rules and expectations were shared through webinars to school districts in December 2013. The legislation affects every early literacy program in the State of Iowa. Requirements include:
- Minimum of 90 minutes daily of scientifically based reading instruction for any student who is experiencing reading deficiencies in reading.
- Universal screening assessments for grades K-3 three times a year.
- Progress monitoring and intensive instruction for students with “substantial deficiency in reading.”
- Inform parents about their child(ren) reading proficiency and what they can do at home to help their child in the area of literacy.
- Regular reporting to parents that includes sharing information on progress towards reading proficiency; and
- Retention if the student is not proficient by the end of the third grade, did not attend the summer program and does not meet “good cause” exemption (good cause exemption will be defined by the Iowa Department of Education). The retention portion of the legislation will not begin until May 1, 2017.
Districts received some funding in order to begin to enact these requirements beginning in the 2014-15 school year. We will be working closely with elementary principals and teacher groups to outline an action plan for implementing these requirements for next school year. The action plan will also be shared with the School Board.
Online Learning Committee Work
The Online Learning Committee, which currently includes representation from secondary school administration, the Director of Technology, members of the Teaching & Learning Services Department and Dr. Remy met on Friday, Jan. 17th. The committee finalized the scenario survey that will be sent to grade 6-12 teachers. The team agreed to send out the survey to teachers in mid-February. The data from the survey will then be analyzed by the group and next steps determined for the work in this area. This will include making determinations on the expansion of the committee (i.e. including teachers, community members, business community and some members of the School Board).