Budget Reduction Timeline
I thought I would share with you the timeline for the next couple of weeks. We started the community and staff forums last week to gather feedback on items in the budget reduction list. We will conduct more budget forums this week. We also have an online option for people to provide feedback. The final budget forum is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21. The superintendency will then review all of the feedback received both at the forums and online and put together a recommendation. The recommendation will be shared at superintendent board advisory committee meetings, starting March 3 with TLS Advisory, March 4 with HR Advisory and March 7 with Facility and Finance Advisory. The final budget reduction recommendation will be part of the March 10 board packet which will be ready late afternoon on March 7.
Archery Tiger Shootout
I was able to attend a portion of the Tiger Shootout on Saturday. I was very impressed with the number of archers. Students really seemed to enjoy participating. The number of volunteers that helped make the event such a success was fantastic! Valley came home champions in all three divisions. Jordan Creek won the elementary division, Stilwell won the middle school division and Valley won the high school division. WAY TO GO TIGERS!
Paul and I provided breakfast to our transportation staff on Friday, Feb. 14. This was to say “thank you” for getting our students to and from school safely this winter season. We are very fortunate to have drivers who care about our students and go the extra mile to ensure their safety. A big thank you goes out to Robin Pickard, Doug Neppl and the transportation staff.
Recent Stranger Danger Alerts
As you are aware, the district has sent out three Stranger Danger alerts since February 4. I thought I would share the protocol we use in determining when and how these are sent out.
First, the School Community Relations Office is typically notified by the buildings when they are made aware by parents of these incidents. Our first step is to ask if the police have been notified. This is our trigger for communicating to all district parents. Due to confirmed erroneous reports made in the past and shared by other school districts, we only send out an all-district email if the incident has been reported to the local police department. If the incident is reported to the school and not to the police department, the family is advised to contact the police.
To ensure accuracy, we reference the police’s report or new release in our notification. We work diligently to get these notices out as soon as possible, but we do take time to make sure we have accurate information and coordinate with the local police department. Based on our work together, the West Des Moines Police Department is now also working with other schools in the city to share information.
Our efforts to communicate Stranger Danger reports are a direct result of conversations with parents about their desire to be notified of incidents in order to be ever diligent in keeping children safe and aware of Stranger Danger rules.
Check Your Calendar! Upcoming Board Meetings
• Feb. 24, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
• March 10, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
• March 24, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) Learning Resource Center
• April 7, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
• April 28, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Crossroads Park Elementary
We have begun the negotiations process with both our associations — West Des Moines Education Association (WDMEA) and West Des Moines Education Support Personnel (WDMESP). We have exchanged initial proposals and will be continuing to negotiate final agreements over the course of the next few weeks.
TEACHING & LEARNING SERVICES (TLS)
West Des Moines Community School District on AP Honor Roll
The AP Honor Roll recognizes and honors those outstanding school districts that simultaneously increase access to Advanced Placement course work while increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams. Achieving both of these goals is the ideal scenario for a district’s AP program because it indicates that the district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are likely to benefit most from rigorous AP course work. This is the first year that West Des Moines Community School District has been on the honor roll and recognized in the state and nationwide for this achievement. Below is the list of school districts in Iowa that are part of the 4th Annual AP Honor Roll.
4th Annual Honor Roll Districts in Iowa: 5
• Cedar Falls Community School District
• College Community School District
• Pleasant Valley Community School District
• Waukee Community School District
• West Des Moines Community School District
Microsoft IT Academy
Valley High School is one of 150 schools that have been awarded, through the state of Iowa’s competitive STEM initiative grant application process, the opportunity to provide students the ability to be certified as Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS). This will give Valley High School students an amazing opportunity to validate their skills and gain industry-recognized certification, which will give them a competitive advantage when applying for college or a career. The awarded grant has a total market value of more than $50,000 in academic software, e-books, exam materials, Office licenses and additional ancillary materials such as posters and videos.
Vicky Rossander, business education teacher at Valley High School, submitted the application in late December and was notified of receiving the award in early January. Currently the district, in cooperation with DMACC, is working towards implementing the MOS certification into the business curriculum programming.
Visit with Linda Fandel and Jeff Weld at the Capitol
Lisa and Laurene had the opportunity to meet with Governor Branstad’s Special Assistant for Education Linda Fandel and Executive Director of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Northern Iowa Jeff Weld on Wednesday, Feb. 12 to discuss the district’s current practices and vision for STEM initiatives. Linda and Jeff were very interested in our ideas about future STEM initiatives in the district. They also complimented us in our current offerings to students and our interest in expanding STEM learning experiences for students. We agreed to continue our conversations and look for opportunities to collaborate in the future with the state and STEM Advisory Council focusing on professional learning for faculty as well as possible grant opportunities.