We are a little over three weeks into the 2017-18 school year. Thanks to the efforts of every single employee and our students and families we’ve enjoyed an extremely smooth start to the school year. Routines have been established, students are engaged in meaningful learning opportunities, and the weather has been outstanding!
Despite the challenges we face as a growing school district, including the ever-increasing expectations of the public and the decreased funding support from the state, Waukee Community School District (WCSD) continues to thrive. The quality of the educational experience provided to our students continues to be top-notch.
Students continue to excel, staff members have the necessary resources and the learning environment is student-centered. Student achievement data across all grade levels is high and trending upward for several years in a row. Teachers continue to differentiate instruction to ensure students have a strong foundation and are provided opportunities to extend their learning. In addition, staff members work to provide opportunities for students to perform and compete outside the classroom. These successes are, in part, due to the continued support from our parents and communities and a laser-like focus on the part of our teachers on doing what is best for students.
You may have heard the district continues to grow! The district has experienced enrollment growth for the past 26 consecutive years. Last year we grew by 574 students and this year we estimate we will grow by nearly 600 students. The official number will be available in October.
Keep in mind that we don’t receive any state funding for those nearly 600 new students during the current school year. The way the Iowa school funding formula works means that funding for new students to a district always lags by one year. That’s a challenge…we grew by more than the total PK-12 enrollment for 120+ school districts in the state of Iowa last year. So in essence, we’re educating the equivalent of the enrollment for some entire districts in Iowa with NO MONEY.
We don’t dwell on the growth, but little things we do each day help us plan for it. It’s part of our culture, and we’ve taken great pride in knowing that despite the growth our student achievement, data is high and has been on an upward trend. We’re also very proud of the fact that we have been able to handle the facility challenges that come with the growth.
Would we like more parking at the high school? Yes, and we have money allocated in our five-year plan for that.
Would we like to be able to accommodate all our new elementary students without ever having to change elementary attendance boundaries? Yes, but that’s not a realistic expectation.
Would we like to establish more bus routes? Yes, but each bus route in our district currently costs over $45,000 to operate for a school year, so we try to be as efficient as possible when adding additional routes.
The fact is, there will always be needs in a district like WCSD. We can’t meet all those needs at once. Growth is not a problem, it’s a challenge and one that our district will continue to meet head-on through diligent planning and partnerships with our parents and communities. Thank you for your support of our schools, and thank you for the ongoing partnership in pursuit of the best education for our students.
Because rapid growth is unique to WCSD (and a few other districts in the state) we often share information related to that growth and the impact on our community. However, it’s important to note we will continue to see a strong focus on our core business and main mission, the education of the students entrusted to us.
Throughout the school year, we plan on providing you with updates on student achievement data, various student accomplishments, teacher professional development and other items that are a part of our energetic and dynamic school district. Students are our first priority!
Just recently we received our ACT test results from the 2016-17 school year. Our overall composite score was 23.6. That composite average compares with the state average of 21.9 and a national average of 21. Test scores are just one measure of our students’ successes. As we move forward into the 2017-18 school year, also watch for articles featuring our elementary programs, visual and performing arts, middle school and high school academic programs and athletics.
New Board Members Elected
The local board of education is a uniquely American institution that has made the public schools flexible and responsive to the needs of the local communities. The school board represents a continuing commitment to local citizen decision-making in education.
Congratulations to the following incumbents who were re-elected on September 12:
David Cunningham resident of Clive, four-year term
Wendy Liskey, resident of West Des Moines, four-year term
Jerry Ripperger, resident of West Des Moines, two-year term
Mary Scheve, resident of Clive, four-year term
Also, congratulations to newly elected board member Lori Lyon. Lori is a resident of Clive elected for a four-year term.
Board members are locally elected, non-salaried, public officials. Honor, respect and satisfaction are the rewards for helping the school district meet the educational needs of students and our communities. Take time to thank them for the enormous amount of volunteer time and commitment they contribute to making Waukee Community School District the great place it is.
Please take a special moment to thank retiring school board member Pat Nehls for his service to the students and communities of WCSD for the past four years!