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From The Desk of Mr. Dicks PDF Print E-mail

Enrollment

 

I am optimistic about our enrollment numbers for this year. One, it appears we are the only Washington County School that is showing an increase in our certified enrollment. We are showing an increase of 32.95 students to 1778.05. Second, the increase is a good sign before our largest classes begin to leave us. But we are certainly positioned much better to withstand the expected enrollment drop in the next 3 years. The Board has proactively planned and we should be able to handle this without making cuts to programming.

 

There are many funding streams that the Washington Community School District utilizes to fund education. The total budget for the District is nearly $20 million, but that includes all funds available to us. I think it is important to communicate to our staff and patrons the different funds and their allowable uses as we monitor our enrollment(revenue) and expenses.

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Best Time Of The Year PDF Print E-mail

From The Desk of Mr. Dicks

 

The best time of the year is when students come back. It is a time full of excitement not only for students but all employees of a school. We get to see how kids have matured, physically grown, and always bring a level of energy that can drive a culture.

 

Regardless of what has happened in the past, we focus on a clean slate for all students because we know from our vast experiences, everyone deserves a second chance. I have seen this play out time and time again throughout my educational career, but especially at the start of school.

 

It is very gratifying to see our staff in action, with the renewed sense of energy and passion, helping kids launch into new beginnings of a new school year. At Stewart, I didn’t see one kid with tears of anxiety on the first day of kindergarten, not that there might have been some anxious moments, but our staff had a smile on their face and anxiety was put to rest.

 

Lincoln is implementing a new behavior program called Positive Behavior Intervention Supports(PBIS) and I saw everyone, teaching kids the expectations of the building and district. What I most like about it, it also systematizes how we all speak to students, so the message is always consistent from classroom to classroom and even in the hallways when they talk to support staff. Our staff did an awesome job of teaching the proper behaviors to our students.

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Summer Preparations PDF Print E-mail

Mr. Jeff Dicks, Superintendent

 

Not only do our teachers recharge in the summer through professional learning, continuing education, and some rest and relaxation, but our support staff is busy getting our facilities a ready as well. This is a huge undertaking for a group dedicated people in our building and maintenance group including all of our building custodians. In addition to our typical deep cleaning and re-waxing of floors, we have some larger projects that I want to let you know about.

 

Stewart Elementary will have the most visible improvements because of the wrap up of the daycare and preschool addition project. The YMCA has now occupied the daycare space and the parking lot is complete and the surrounding area graded and seeded. Outside, some of the old playground equipment has been removed and repurposed at the Fairgrounds. We thank the Fairground Board for their help in putting this equipment to good use and for the removal of the equipment. The new playground will begin to be installed mid-July. We have also put a fence around the entire playground to increase the safety for all students during recess and PE time.

 

Lincoln Elementary had water pipes in the basement updated. Our maintenance crew replaced some aging pipes and in the process found that the main water service into the building was 3/4 of the way plugged. We were able to secure a local contractor and replace the main service pipe from the street to the building before summer lunch began. We also replaced concrete at the main entrance of Lincoln because it was uneven and cracking.

 

Another improvement at Lincoln is the creation of a new program called Resilient Individualized Student Education(RISE) program for students in grades K-5. This is similar to our Behavior Learning Center(BLC) at the high school that serves students 6-12. This program creates a designated learning environment that helps students who have identified learning challenges and have met qualifications for participation. Like the high school program, we have built a wall in the hallway on the east side of Lincoln that separate 2 classrooms for this program. We have seen great results for students in the 6-12 program and see the need for this at the lower grades.

 

In August, after summer lunch has ended and before school starts, our maintenance crew will replace the grease trap in the kitchen at Lincoln. While this doesn't sound like much, it entails much more than changing your garbage disposal and is very timely since the kitchen will be shut down for this process. Our crew has planned out the execution of this repair and we will be ready for the start of school.

 

The Middle School School water damage repair project is finally complete, with the principal's office and entryway the last to be finished. While insurance covered most of this repair, the asbestos abatement that had to be done on the floors could not be included. This amounted to over $30,000 of an expense that we were not planning for, but the improvements were able to paid from Physical Plant and Equipment (PPEL) fund that doesn't affect student learning funds. Throughout this repair project we learned that when working on a 100-year-old building, many things can pop up unexpectedly and cost more than you can ever anticipate.

 

We started what we thought was a pretty easy project at the high school that was going to improve roof drain flow of water away from the building. The roof drains carry a large amount of surface area(the roof) and that concentration of water was beginning to erode the foundation near the main entrance of the old middle school wing. We also discovered that steel posts supporting the cement overhang are corroding at cement level or just below. While burying the pipes, we found footings that were engineered to support the overhang. The footings needed to bored out so the pipes we are using to drain the water to the storm sewer could be indtalled. Again, more unexpected issues that come up adding cost to these improvements. The cement around the entrance including the sidewalks in the area of bus drop off and pick up will also be replaced.

 

Both Lincoln and the High School are also receiving upgrades to our internet coverage including some new wiring. As we have more and more devices online and some of the State Assessments are conducted online, we need to ensure that our internet is fast and reliable. Our Technology staff is very proactive and always seeking outside funding sources to help with these costs.

 

Central Office needed a new heating and cooling system that was completed early summer. This will be much more efficient and will allow heating and cooling more evenly distributed. We have noticed improvements with the new system already.

 

The last facility related issue is Case Field. The track will be resurfaced this summer. This was approved in March at a cost of $44,850. The company will clean and repair any places that need it and then apply .5mm - 1.5mm rubber coat to the existing surface. They will then apply 2 coats of spray application of two-part black polyurethane top coating as well as layout and paint lane lines and event markings. This will extend the life of the track 10-15 years instead of a totally new track.

 

Our transportation department also spends the summer not only providing transportation for all of our activities but also taking this time to make repairs and improvements to our vehicle fleet. We will make approximately $4,500 worth of body repairs to buses alone this year in order to keep them in service. The State Inspector will put a bus out of service if there is rust visible, including a spare bus.

 

All of the above mentioned expenditures are paid out of our PPEL fund. These costs keep increasing as our buildings continue to age. We appreciate the voters approving our voted PPEL levy that allows us to maintain and make improvements for our students. I want to thank all of our support staff for all of the efforts this summer as we recharge our facilities for another school year.

 

 
Priorities: Are We In Agreement? - Jeff Dicks, Superintendent PDF Print E-mail

All of us have things that are important to us, both personally, professionally, and in things as simple as our favorites.  A belief I have about sustaining and promoting a community is a robust education system, not only PK-12, but even supporting post-secondary opportunities.  The Iowa Legislature is tasked with a statewide budget and figuring out all of those priorities operating within a given budget.  I appreciate the work that they do and all of the support for the varying priorities across the state of Iowa.

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