From new, large additions in the high schools to new teachers and an increased emphasis on student learning, students who live in Clive and attend the Waukee and West Des Moines school districts will notice several changes when they return to school this month.
Classes start Aug. 15 in Waukee. District officials estimate about 7,600 students will attend Waukee schools.
“We’re excited for another outstanding school year,” says David Wilkerson, superintendent of the Waukee School District.
Waukee schools will have about 60 new teachers and several new administrators. Those administrators are:
• Tim Bloom, director of business services for the district
• Diann Williamson, assistant principal for Maple Grove and Shuler elementary schools
• Lyndsay Marron, principal at Walnut Hills Elementary School
• Judi Roland, assistant principal at Waukee High School
Waukee High School undergoes $15 million renovation
Currently, Waukee High School is undergoing a massive, $15 million addition project that increased the size of the school by 95,000 square feet and made it large enough to accommodate 1,800 students in the future.
The project includes the addition of 22 classrooms, a new media production facility, a two-story library in a new south wing, a new gymnasium/fieldhouse with a wrestling practice room on the east side of the building, new locker rooms, and a remodeled kitchen and dining area.
Work is expected to be completed on the high school by the time students start school and will merge the building with the former YMCA building to the east.
Wilkerson says the additions to the high school “provide much needed educational space and support for our growing student population. As always, our main focus across the district will be student centered and will provide challenging curriculum and learning with high expectations for student achievement.”
Construction also is under way on a seventh elementary school for Waukee. It is located at the intersection of Stage Coach Drive and 95th Street in West Des Moines. It will open in July 2013. A new eighth/ninth grade building will be constructed at the intersection of L.A. Grant Parkway and Ashworth Road in Waukee and will open in 2014.
Waukee district implements new flier notification system
New this year is a system called eBackpack, which allows parents and other guardians to view fliers electronically rather than through paper form distributed at their student’s school.
The system allows school district officials to distribute information from nonprofit groups and about school-sponsored activities through the school district’s website or by visiting blogs.waukee.k12.ia.us/ebackpack. All fliers will be in one online location.
“It’s a more efficient way of getting materials to families without cluttering the backpack,” says Nicole Lawrence, communications coordinator for the school district.
She says paper fliers will still be made available for families who do not have a computer or access to the Internet.
West Des Moines School District officials last year implemented a similar system called the Virtual Backpack. The system helps teachers because they are no longer required to take classroom time to pass out fliers, which keeps their focus on teaching and learning, says Lauri Pyatt, school and community relations specialist for West Des Moines schools.
WDM’s Valley High School undergoes additions
Students who live in the eastern part of Clive and attend West Des Moines’ Valley High School will see ongoing construction during the first semester of the school year, as the second phase of a large expansion plan is completed.
The second phase includes a three-story addition on the southwest side of the school that contains science labs, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) storm shelter, family consumer science areas and a new cafeteria. Work is expected to be complete by the time students return to Valley in January 2013, says Jim Mollison, Valley High School principal.
Once this work is finished, a third phase will begin on the east side of the building. It includes a new auditorium with seating for about 1,140 people, an orchestra pit, a trap room, catwalks and a 60-foot-tall stage house.
Construction has been ongoing at the high school since spring 2011. The cost for the second and third phases is about $62.6 million.
Officials expect slight enrollment increase, welcome new employees
District officials expect an increase of about 50 students for the upcoming year. Last year, the district’s certified enrollment was 9,050 students.
There are 34 new teachers in West Des Moines schools, as well as a handful of new administrators. Those administrators are:
• Paul Bobek, the district’s chief financial officer
• Stephanie Wilson, the district’s director of curriculum
• Janelle Green, the district’s half-time director of curriculum
• Graham Jones, principal of Jordan Creek Elementary School
• Brian Vaughan, assistant principal of Jordan Creek and Westridge elementary schools
District launches website to seek ideas, pilots new programs
Also this summer, school district officials started a new online community forum called WDMCSIdeaShare.com. It’s a website that serves as a way for community members to provide input about what the school district is doing well and recommendations for what it could do better.
Topics that have already been discussed include how to keep children’s academic skills sharp during the summer and what changes should be made to the school district.
To encourage community members to participate, the district is offering the chance to win a ticket to a Valley High School athletic event or to each lunch with Superintendent Peter Ansingh.
District officials this school year will continue their plan to implement ways throughout the school year to improve the transitions students make from different programs, grade levels or schools. At the eighth- and ninth-grade level, for example, they will offer open houses and tours, hold social activities to bring together students from both junior high schools, and have team leaders meet with administrators and counselors to address individual student needs.
This school year, district officials will create a committee to examine the transition at the elementary levels with recommendations to be sent to the administration in the spring to implement for the 2013-14 school year.
Officials this school year also will expand personalized learning plans (PLP) to additional schools and grades. A PLP is an individualized plan that addresses issues such as cultural practices and beliefs along with the student’s academic knowledge.
The plans were first piloted last school year at five schools in the district. This year, district officials will work toward either implementation or piloting the plans for all sixth-grade students, all third-graders at Phenix Elementary School, all junior high students, all Valley Southwoods Freshman High School students, and all students at Walnut Creek Campus.
New logo, menu
School lunches will change this year under new nutrition guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Under the changes:
• Students will be required to take half a cup of fruit or vegetables to be counted as a meal. Otherwise, meals will be charged a la carte prices.
• More whole-grain foods will be offered.
• The amount of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium in food will be reduced.
• Menus will be changed to reflect the portion sizes children need in order to have the appropriate number of calories for their age.
The West Des Moines School District has new logo designs that include a tiger and the tiger paw. The tiger logo is the first official tiger logo the district has had, district officials say.
The logos will be used throughout the school district and on district apparel that is sold by the booster club. The Valley V remains part of the design and will continue to be the main identifying mark for the school.
Valley and Valley Southwoods students, along with administrators and members of the activities booster clubs, worked with local design firm Love Scott and Associates to create the logos.