Reflections on school year
As I reflect on the 2011-2012 school year, this has really been a very good year for the Washington Community School District. There are so many good and positive things happening. The year began with the District being recognized by the Iowa Association of School Boards and we continue to get better. This is an excellent time to be a part of this district and the future looks even better.
Let’s begin with the excellent opportunities being provided to our students. During the 2011-2012 school year, the Washington High School course offerings included 20 new courses for college credit. This will be expanded even more for 2012-2013. These courses are offered to students free of charge and should provide a big savings to parents and families. Kirkwood Community College announced the location of the new regional center to be opened in the fall of 2013 in Washington. This will expand those opportunities for students even more. Some of the main objectives for the Regional Center are to provide programming not currently offered in the high school, to provide up-to-date labs and equipment for those programs, and to offer pathways for students where they can earn their AA degree while still in high school. This will be true for students going on to a four year degree program and for those who are simply looking for career certification for employment. This is an exciting opportunity and partnership for the future.
The Washington Community School District continues to perform well on state test and assessments. The district has demonstrated significant progress over the last five years. Every grade level and building has demonstrated proficiency in Reading, Science and Math. Some grade levels scored a year ahead of their grade levels. While we are still awaiting results on our subgroups, the district has a pretty good track record for improvement in those areas in recent years as well. The commitment to continued academic achievement is evident on the part of the school board and the faculty in the fact that the academic calendar will be expanded two instructional days beyond what state laws require in 2012-2013. The district is moving forward with an extended school year prior to it becoming mandated by the state at some future date. I believe we will be one of the first in the state to take this bold step.
Other very positive trends for the school district include enrollments and financial status. Enrollment trends are growing and the kindergarten roundup figures show potential growth again next year. Our preschool numbers grew this last year and the district is considering another expansion to include all day preschool services next year as an option to parents. The district has made tremendous progress in securing its financial status and will be approaching $3 million unspent balance. This is up from a negative figure only four years ago. The district’s property tax levy will decrease by at least 35 cents per $1,000 next year. The district levy decreased 70 cents last year. The trend appears to be continued decreased levy for the next several years. The district has made several moves in the last few years that have helped secure its financial viability for the foreseeable future.
The new high school will open its doors for school in August. That is very exciting. It is an outstanding facility. We will finally be a four-year high school and will eliminate several scheduling issues and transportation issues with the ninth grade class. The Stewart renovation is amazing and the facility has a sense of newness to it. The old high school will also get about an $850,000 facelift as well. The new boilers have been installed, new controls have been installed, new lights are being installed, new electrical service will be installed this summer, a new roof will be installed this summer, and the rooms will be painted this summer. While the district has not completed their wish list for facilities, no can deny the fact that we have made the most out of the dollars we had to make the facilities better. My hope for the future includes a facelift at Lincoln like what we did at Stewart.
While these items are only a few of the exciting things that have happened in the district, there is a lot to feel good about. We have made an effort to be responsive to the public, to be visible in the community and to be a good partner to business, industry, economic development and our neighboring districts. We have many new partnerships. There are so many other exciting initiatives such as the high school 1:1 computer program, efforts in working with the local hospital in a “circle school” concept, implementation of Junior Achievement into the middle school curriculum, working with public health on a safe schools grant application, the success of our athletic and fine art programs on the state level including but not limited to baseball, football, wrestling, All State Band, state speech, state marching band and much more happening on a regular basis. It is a great time to be associated with the Washington Community School District.