The weather is bitterly cold as the month of March approaches. Iowa Assessment tests are being administered as I write this article. We look forward to seeing the results of the tests. The Iowa Assessment is a snapshot of how our students are progressing academically. They help us determine possible changes in instructional practices, curriculum, and program offerings. The test results help parents understand how their student(s) is (are) doing academically. The assessment data gives the board of education the opportunity to examine instructional practices and programs and possible improvements for next school year. The Iowa Assessment results can also indicate we are making positive progress in certain areas where the old adage, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” might apply.

West Burlington ISD is busy planning for our April Department of Education site visit as well as 2015-2016 school year. In early April a team will be on-site studying our school district and will share two types of highly important data with us. The site team will tell us what we do well, what programs are excelling, and the good things going on in our school district. 

The site team will also include data on those areas that we can improve upon. An outside, objective look at our school district and how we serve students is an invaluable service. We are looking forward to the site visit and welcome the team’s input. We will be contacting stakeholders to participate in some of these meetings.

We are also looking forward to the 2015-2016 school year. The WBISD Board of Education has decided to apply for an early start waiver. The deadline for this application is March 15, 2015. Three possible start dates for WBISD are:

August 13th – with a DE approved waiver
August 31st – current state law and not being allowed the waiver
August 24th – a compromise bill currently being considered which doesn’t allow for a waiver

The discussions at the statehouse will be passionate and will reflect the many viewpoints the citizens of our state have toward tourism, local school board control, and the role of education in our lives. Monitor our website; I will keep you apprised as this issue evolves. April 7th is the date for a special election to ask two important questions of the taxpayers. The first question is who will fill the seat currently occupied by Wayne Ross. State law requires open board seats be filled by an election if a special election is being held. Mr. Ross was appointed to this seat vacated by Lenny Sanders due to moving to Fort Dodge. Whoever wins this seat in April would then have to run for election in September as that is when the board seat’s actual term expires. If this sounds confusing, it is. Please contact me with questions.

The second question is do the voters want to renew the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy. WBISD currently has this ten year levy in place at 67¢ per $1,000 taxable valuation. The VPPEL expires in June, 2015 and generates about $102,000. The board is asking to renew the voted PPEL at a rate of $1.34 per $1,000 taxable valuation. If the VPPEL is approved, the board would use $100,000 for building/facility upgrades and improvements. The board also would earmark $100,000 to be used toward technology. The district had not made the decision to become a one-to-one school when the VPPEL was previously approved by the voters. That is the reason the WBISD board is asking for a higher levy. As the board works on certifying the budget in April, it is safe to say they will be lowering the overall school tax levy again, even if the voter approved PPEL levy is in place. More election information will be provided as April gets closer.

West Burlington Independent School District appreciates your continued involvement and support. If you have questions, concerns, or comments, please contact me at david.schmitt@wbschools.us or call (319)752-8747, option #3. Students First!