I am proud to be able to once again report good news to our stakeholders. The Iowa School Report Card is out and West Burlington ISD is doing well. The Iowa School Report Card is a new system to show how each public school is performing on certain educational measures. Schools receive a score for each measure, and then the scores are combined into an overall score. Based on the overall score, one of the following ratings is assigned to each school: Exceptional, HighPerforming, Commendable, Acceptable, Needs Improvement, and Priority. The Iowa School Report Card can help Iowans stay informed and can enhance conversations about their schools’ strengths and challenges. The Iowa Department of Education developed the rating system in response to a 2013 Legislative requirement (House File 215). School report cards and rankings are common nationally. Iowa has learned from other states that the best approach to building this type of system is to be inclusive, fair and to use data in a positive way–to improve and support schools. The purpose of these rankings is to give residents of school districts an indication of how well the school district is doing. Prospective families also have the opportunity to know how a school they are choosing to attend is doing. The Iowa School Report Card is one measure as to the effectiveness of the school district. I suggest parents and community members look beyond our school’s label and focus on the opportunities for learning and growth. West Burlington ISD is doing well on all fronts in all aspects of instruction.

The overall ratings are based on each school’s performance over a two-year span on up to eight required measures: student proficiency rates, student growth toward college and career readiness, annual expected growth, closing the achievement gap, college and career readiness, graduation rate, attendance, and staff retention. All of these factors are important. The Iowa School Report Card represents limited data and a snapshot in time. It is not the whole story. An overall school rating does not reflect the quality of our staff or ongoing work to raise student achievement. Please watch our website and view board agendas. The school district will be doing a public presentation on the positive results of the Iowa School Report Card. If you’d like to see our ratings firsthand or would like to view how other schools are doing feel free to browse West Burlington Independent School District received a commendable rating for our high school program and acceptable for our junior high school and elementary school programs. We are very confident we will see improved achievement data in all three buildings with our upcoming Iowa Assessment tests.

The West Burlington Board of Education is bringing a ballot issue to the voters in April. The board will ask the citizens of the West Burlington Independent School District to say “Yes” or “No” to a Voted Physical Plant and Equipment Levy. The Board of Education will reduce the overall levy to under $15 per taxable valuation for FY 2017. The reduced overall levy includes a $1.20 per $1,000 taxable valuation if the VPPEL question is approved by district taxpayers. We had a 67¢ VPPEL in place for the past ten years. As you are well aware, our voters turned down the extension of the VPPEL, starting this fiscal year. It is not in place currently. If passed the VPPEL would generate an estimated $180,000 annually. These funds are restricted to facilities, vehicles and technology. We cannot use PPEL revenues for general fund expenditures. The board is looking at facility priorities. The elementary playground is in serious need of an upgrade. We also believe measures must be taken to improve the safety and efficiency of our student pick-up at the elementary building. Nate Prickett is putting together various options to address these concerns. The board is considering converting our elementary kitchen from a serving kitchen to a preparation, cook, and serve facility. Meals will be fresher for the elementary students if we can get this done. The VPPEL election will be in April. The board will conduct public meetings to see firsthand our facility needs and to ask more questions about the VPPEL. One need which is becoming more of a concern is the maintenance of our roofs. Simply put, the need to work on them is quickly approaching. Voted Physical Plant and Equipment Levy dollars can also be used to fund technology and purchase transportation.

The Technology Committee is coming closer to making a decision on K-12 technology devices. The committee updated the board at the December regular meeting and appears it will have a recommendation ready for the board of education shortly after the first of the year.

I hope your student(s) have a restful holiday break. I extent my best regards to you and your family. Kids First!