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Welcome to another school year! PDF Print E-mail

As the Superintendent for the Washington CSD, I would like to personally welcome back students, parents, and faculty for the 2016-17 school year. I am excited for the opportunities and things happening in our district as we embark on another school year.

 

The Stewart project that will house a daycare and new preschool classrooms is progressing very well. Our initial hope was to occupy the building by January 2017, but it appears we will beat that by a long shot. It is to early to put a hard date to occupancy, but if all continues to progress, we could be in by Thanksgiving. Because we must move students out before Stewart West before it can be demolished, we are not sure that the parking and drop off can be completed until spring. So while the timeline is exciting, there will be challenges because of the demolition of Stewart West and the impending paving of the parking lot that will be weather dependent.

Last Updated on Thursday, July 28 2016 07:45
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From The Desk of Mr. Dicks - May 2016 PDF Print E-mail

Kindergarten Round Up

 

We have held kindergarten round up and Mr. Miller, Principal at Stewart reports approximately 120 students have been registered. If things run as normal, we also get an additional 10 students in the Fall. This would give us approximately 130 kindergarten students for next year. This is about average across our K-12 system, but our with our 3 largest classes in 9th, 10th, and 11th grade next year at 144, 145, and 156 respectively. We can predict general trends, but until we hit official count day of October 1st, it is only speculative.

 

It is always good to see solid numbers coming to Kindergarten. If we would continue with 120-130 in each new kindergarten class, we would only be down approximately 90 students by 2020. Again, this is only speculative in nature, but we will need to continually be monitoring our expenses and our enrollment as we move forward.

Last Updated on Friday, May 20 2016 10:17
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From The Desk of Mr. Dicks - April 2016 PDF Print E-mail

Workplace Visits

 

On April 13, our K-12 teaching staff participated in workplace visits during their professional development time. What a great experience for our teachers to be able to learn about industries in Washington as well as see applications of their curriculum. I have heard so much about this activity, that has been going on for 4 years, and I was equally impressed with the opportunity to visit 1 of the participating 8 businesses.

 

It is very easy for education to have our head in the sand when it comes to connecting our curriculum with the real-world, because our teachers have spent 12 years as a K-12 student, plus 4 more years for their degree, and then most went right into the classroom. That means they have spent most of their life in the school system either as a student or teacher. When I became a high school principal in 2004, I remember having conversations with our staff about bringing relevance to our teaching and I had a veteran Calculus teacher tell me, “that is really hard for me because I have spent my entire adult life in school”.

Last Updated on Friday, April 29 2016 06:57
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From The Desk of Mr. Dicks - March 2016 PDF Print E-mail

District Budget

 

I have been optimistically waiting for the Legislature to set State Supplemental Aid(SSA) and on March 22nd, the House and Senate agreed to 2.25% funding for schools. So, my “optimistic” waiting will continue. This funding rate affects our Unspent Balance, that can be likened to our credit card. Schools can only spend as much “legal authority” as we have. This is not cash, but only the authority to spend. You can have $1,000,000 in the bank, but if you only have the authority to spend $700,000, you can only legally spend $700,000.

 

I will do my best to help our supportive tax paying community to understand how this affects our district's’ budget and tax asking. First, our enrollment decline of 53 students will naturally make our tax rate go up, so low SSA coupled with enrollment decline, makes the local property tax rate increase. Second, other factors included in our tax rate are cash reserve levy, management fund levy, legislated commercial property tax relief, and the bond for the Stewart Preschool/Daycare addition.

 

The management levy will help pay for our incentivized early retirement packages, but I will remind you, it is one of the only tools we have to move higher salaried teachers/administrators off of our salary scale and replace with less costly teachers. The incentive is paid out of management and the savings are realized in our general fund, our most important. Through FY2011 - FY2017 SSA has been set at 2%, 0%, 2%, 2% + 2% one time funding, 4%, 1.25% and 2.25% respectively. The average on those 7 years is 2.07%. We are bound by Iowa Code to collectively bargain with our teaching and support unions respectively, and would be bound by arbitration if an agreement is not met. I choose to settle, rather than occupy time and emotions, when our unions have come in reasonable.

Last Updated on Monday, March 28 2016 10:21
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