Good Afternoon –

I hope you are all doing well after the Thanksgiving holiday. It is always a great time with family and friends. Just a few updates for you all today.

Enrollment Numbers

Our overall enrollment for 2106-17 is 1,798 students, up 109 from last year. This number is within just a few students of what our demographer projected for us four years ago! We expect our new enrollment projection analysis to be in to us yet this fall. Growth challenges and opportunities are certainly part of our new-normal. We obviously have recently added additions on to each of our buildings – another building project needs to coincide with an increase in our bonding capacity. With the continued very aggressive tax abatement program in Adel, our growth may occur faster than our bonding capacity can grow.

While this may be a challenge in some respects, growth is a positive for our financial condition, especially in times of very low “supplemental state aid” increases from the state. Attracting and retaining quality teachers, program sustainability and additions, etc are possible here while many districts are dealing with low settlements or freezes, eliminating programs, reducing staff, etc. The outlook for this next legislative session is in question again, in regards to education funding, but our circumstances here at ADM are extremely solid.

At a metro area superintendent’s meeting, we shared our enrollment growth/decline. . .

Waukee – up 570
Ankeny – up 400
Johnston – up 138
DCG – up 207
Bondurant Farrar – up 113
ADM – up 109
Norwalk – up 53
North Polk – up 46
Indianola – up 43
Urbandale – up 32
Saydel – up 27
Van Meter – up 15
Southeast Polk – Even
Carlisle – down 2

Stadium Building

We have narrowed our focus for the proposed new stadium building as part of the phase 2 improvements to the outdoor athletic facilities. A new restroom and concession stand of approximately 2,650 square feet to replace the current building of 1,200 square feet. Tentative timeline includes design work with a bid date of February-March with construction to start this spring. The estimated cost is approximately $750,000.
This building will include a new concrete approach from the main entrance to the field level that will be ADA compliant as well as a large area of concrete around the concession stand. The board worked very hard to limit the costs of this project. The building site presents some complexities that add to the cost estimate. The board approved the schematic design at the November board meeting and more detailed design development is in progress.

School Calendar 2017-18 – A Preliminary Look Ahead

We are in the beginning stages of work on our school calendar for 2017-18. Just a couple of strong likelihoods for your information include a start date of Wednesday, August 23. This is the earliest school start allowed by state code (and does not conflict with the Iowa State Fair). Our spring break will very likely be on the corresponding week in March – March 12-16. This spring break aligns with most area schools and also with DMACC (important for our high school students taking courses at the Perry DMACC Career Center).

Work on our calendar for next year will continue and we hope to have final board approval in the March-April timeframe, at the latest. If you have any feedback or suggestions, please get in touch with me.

Professional Learning Communities – Conference in October

Below is an excerpt of some information I communicated to staff following a PLC conference this fall. We are working very hard this year to move our Professional Learning Community process to be more systemic and coherent. This conference is a major part of this effort:

A group of 18 of us attended the PLC At Work Institute in October in Des Moines, and to say it was the best professional learning experience of my career would be an understatement.

We were fortunate in that this is the first Institute hosted by Solution Tree in Des Moines. Typically, the closest Institutes are in the Twin Cities or the St. Louis area. And this session in DM was sold out – over 1,000 educators attended. Our group included 13 PLC Leaders (Leanna Stine-Smith, Cristal Tilley, Courtney Stephenson, Amy Hemphill, Sarah Knute, Jon Marcus, Carisa Silverio, Kelly Winter, Robin West, Jean West, Jane Clowser, Beth Knipper, and Lori Rezek. The teachers were joined by myself, Carole Erickson, Kim Timmerman, Jodi Banse, and Lee Griebel.

Rick DuFour, considered the founder of the PLC process was unable to attend due to complications from stage 4 lung cancer. This was disappointing of course, but certainly understandable with what he is fighting. However, his presence was still intensely felt – previously videotaped breakout sessions were offered and were still tremendous.
The keynote presentations included the following:
“The Professional Learning Community Journey: Creating a School of High Expectations” – Tim Brown
“When All Means All” – Mike Mattos
“The Will to Lead: Working Together to Create a PLC Culture” – Anthony Muhammad

One common theme in these keynotes (there were many) was attention to PLC Big Idea #1: A Focus on Learning. PLCs clearly define this focus as follows:

“When a school or district functions as a PLC, educators within the organization embrace high levels of learning for all students as the reason the organization exists and the fundamental responsibility of those who work within it.”

ADM’s mission statement reflects this belief and commitment. Now, as we move forward we should be compelled to examine every practice and policy to see if it supports high levels of learning for all students. If not, according to Mike Mattos, in order to be honest with ourselves, our students, and our parents, schools and districts have two choices: 1. Change and improve practices and policies to align with the mission or 2. Change our mission to reflect a belief that some students can’t learn at high levels and that it is not our responsibility to ensure that they do.

We have put our stake in the ground with a mission that is compelling and energizing. Together, over time, as we stay on the PLC journey we will be able to move to unprecedented levels of student learning. No question.

Clarity on Continuous Improvement

Rick DuFour, in a videotaped session on common assessments, described how Stevenson High School in Illinois (where he was superintendent) went from “great to greater”. They won the Blue Ribbon Award four years running and each year they continued to ask themselves how to get even greater. That is the mental frame I have here at ADM and have had since I started.

When I speak of “continuous improvement” it is NOT from a position of me believing we are not “good enough” or our efforts in the past are broken or wrong. On the contrary – I believe we have been AND are outstanding – with a moral imperative to get even better – year after year after year.

Thank you for trusting us with your children.