Understanding the Reasons Behind the Early Start Date

The 2014-15 school year calendar with an August 13 start date, was approved at the February 24 board of education meeting. The calendar presented to the school board was recommended by the Waukee teacher’s association. A committee of teachers gathered input, looked at academic needs and then put everything together in a recommendation to the board that met as many educational needs across the district as possible. The recommendation was presented to the Waukee Board of Education at the February 10 meeting.

The district needed to approve the calendar prior to March 1 in order to be granted an early start waiver. That timeframe was new this year due to changes in legislation and the rules-making process at the state level.

For several years now, Waukee Community School District has been starting school with the same corresponding start date. There are two key reasons for the early start date.

  1. The desire to finish the first semester prior to winter break is a recommendation from high school staff.

  2. The desire to better align with DMACC’s academic calendar.

The DMACC calendar piece is not just about fall semester. As a district we need all of the semesters to align in order to offer the best opportunities for our students and staff. The spring DMACC calendar begins January 12 and the summer calendar begins May 27. In order to have balanced semesters aligning with our local colleges an August 13 start date is required.

The ability for high school students to earn college credits is an opportunity that will continue to see an increased need as schools are asked to increase the rigor and opportunities for students. Last school year, Waukee High School students earned 5,468 credits in the concurrent enrollment program with DMACC. That was a 34% increase from the 2011-12 school year.

The question of elementary buildings having a later start date than the secondary buildings has come up. However, this is not an economically feasible option. Not only could the district not afford to run buses, food service and other services needed, but in order to count as a day of school, all attendance centers must have school. School conferences can be counted as a school day. The only exception to that rule is in cases of emergency situations.

The district conducted a comprehensive parent survey three years ago regarding the school calendar and had more than 1,100 responses. The survey asked many questions, one being the desired start date. The results were literally split right down the middle with 45% preferring the early start date and 41% preferring a later start date and 14% indifferent.

Looking forward to the 2015-16 school calendar, the district believes there may be an opportunity to start later and still align with colleges and universities.

Waukee DRAFT 2014-15  School Year Calendar:

Some dates, like SPA Conferences are still being decided. To view the draft of the 2014-15 school year calendar click here.

Calendar

Component

Proposed Date(s)

Rationale

All School Open House August 11, 2014


School Start  August 13, 2014 A Wednesday school start has been a favored option for a number of years. In order to allow secondary levels to end the first semester prior to Winter Break, benefiting optimal student performance on final exams and better aligning high school classes offered for DMACC credit, we recommend a start date of Wednesday, August 13.


Last Day of School May 22, 2014  Days missed due to inclement weather will be made up at the end of the regular school year.

Thanksgiving Break November 26-28  Students would be on break from November 26 through November 28. Classes would resume on December 1.


Winter Break Dec. 22 to January 2 Classes resume Mon, Jan 5, 2015 Students would be on break from Dec.22, 2014 through Jan 2, 2015. Classes would resume with the second semester starting on Mon Jan 5, 2015.

Spring Break March 16-20, 2015 Area superintendents have set March 16-20, 2015 as Spring Break week.

Fall Conferences Oct 14 & 16 PV The middle schools will schedule conferences on two evenings for the Fall and Spring semesters. Because of high student enrollment in core teams, they will continue to hold conferences throughout one day of each conference week. Students at the middle schools will not be in attendance on that day, but students in all other district buildings will be in attendance. Prairieview will hold two conference evenings during the Fall and Spring semesters. Waukee High School will continue to schedule one conference evening per quarter. During their conference weeks in November and in March, elementary teachers will schedule individual conferences to fit parent schedules, but will have one common evening time and common time on an early dismissal day.
Nov 3 & 6 WMS/SMS
Nov 7 All Day WMS/SMS
Elem Conferences (tentative): Week of Nov 15-Nov 21 Common times: Wed Nov 19: 2 to 4 Thur Nov 20: 4 to 6
HS conferences are scheduled one evening per quarter

Spring Conferences Feb 17 and 19 PV A format similar to that in the fall would occur with spring conferences.
Feb 16 &19 WMS/SMS
Feb 20 All Day at WMS/SMS only
Elem Conferences (tentative): Wed Mar 5-Wed Mar 11 Common times: Tues Mar 10 4-6 pm Wed Mar 11 2-4 pm

Early Out Wednesdays – Professional Development August 27 In education we often use the terms staff development, professional development and in- service education inter- changeably. Just as in any profession, it is important that educators have ongoing professional development to improve their skills and address student learning needs. Research tells us that the single biggest effect on student achievement is the individual teacher in the classroom. Improve teaching skills and teaching practices, and in turn, student performance will improve.Elementary 1:40 – Middle School 1:05 – High School 12:50
September 10 and 24
October 8 and 22
November 5 and 19
December 3 ad 17
January 7 and 21
February 4 and 18
March 4 and 25
April 8 and 22
May 13


Teacher Work Days Work Days for all staff: August 8, 11, 12; Oct 17; March 13; May 26. Flex Work Days: HS Jan. 2. All Elem and PVS Feb. 20. WMS and SMS Feb. 2.3 The Committee has gathered data from teachers and administrators at every building and has attempted to customize Work Days to best meet the needs of teachers at various grade levels and buildings so they can best facilitate student learning and prepare for instruction or for conferences. The Committee proposes some fixed Work Days and one flex Work Day. All staff would have 3 Work Days prior to the start of school, on Friday, October 17, Friday March 14, and on the day following the last day of school. However, staff members at various buildings have selected a building-specific Work Day in the second semester. No students would attend school on those Flex Work Days. HS teachers have chosen a Work Day on Friday, Jan. 3. Teachers at PVS and Elementary buildings have chosen a Work Day on Friday, Feb. 20. WMS and SMS will hold their Work Day on Monday, Feb. 23.

Teacher Quality Professional Day August 7, 2014 The Committee recommends placement of the Professional Development Day using Teacher Quality funds on Thurs, Aug. 7. This date was selected with input from the Teacher Quality Fund Committee and teacher surveys.

560 Southeast University Avenue
Waukee, Iowa 50263
Phone 515.987.5161
Fax 515.987.2701