February Academy Parent Newsletter
Dear Central Academy students and families,
We have had some strong weather events this winter! Our first priority is student safety. When school is in session and the roads require cautious driving, we do not count students tardy during the first 10 minutes of class. (We never count students tardy if the bus runs late, no matter when it arrives). While we prefer timeliness and advise people to leave earlier whenever possible; however, the priority must be for safe, slow driving. Most of our students worry about being late. Please remind our newer drivers, that it is better to be late and arrive safely.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 20, high school juniors in Des Moines are scheduled to take the ACT test at their home schools. Therefore, students in grades, 9, 10, 11, and 12 do NOT have classes at Central Academy. All classes for 7th and 8th graders will continue as scheduled.
Additionally, DMPS Juniors do NOT have classes on Thursday, February 21 since they will attend the ACT testing on Wednesday at their home schools.
But, you’re wondering, “what about the snow storm warning over our area for tonight and into the morning?” In the event of a school cancellation, here’s the plan:
2/20: No ACT testing.
2/21: DMPS Juniors will not attend school as planned.
3/12: DMPS Juniors take the ACT and the other high school students do not attend.
PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCES
Parent Teacher Conferences will be on Thursday, February 28 and Tuesday, March 5, from 3:30 – 7:30 PM. These are drop-in conferences. If these times do not work for your schedule, please email teachers for a phone conference or email conference. You can find teacher email addresses on our website at https://ca.dmschools.org/faculty/.
SCHOOL FUNDING AND ACADEMY PROGRAMMING
We’ve been very fortunate at Central Academy to have such strong support for our program from Des Moines Public Schools during the past few difficult budget years. Due to continued legislative funding decisions, DMPS and Central Academy must make some staffing reductions and reassignments for next school year. Moving to a 7-period modified block schedule in high schools, means that we will be able to honor nearly all of student course requests for next year, even with a smaller staff. However, we will not be offering AP Biology since it is offered at all DMPS high schools. We will not be offering the one-semester class, AP Comparative Government, because there were not enough students who requested it for next year. We will not be offering the one semester class, AP Macroeconomics, since it is offered at most DMPS high schools. (You will get a letter from me with more information if this change impacts you or your student directly.)
If the budget does not improve in the next year, we will have to make deeper programming cuts in the 2020-2021 school year. In a time of budget difficulties, many parents ask how they can support our schools in Des Moines. Below are some specific issues which directly impact our district and the Central Academy program and what you can do to help.
Why are the legislative priorities for school funding difficult for DMPS?
There are three factors that influence the DMPS budget.
The State of Iowa allocates school budgets based on the number of students enrolled in the previous year. District-wide student enrollment has declined in the past year, which decreases our funding this year. If fewer students enroll in our district it has a direct effect on our overall budget the next year.
GRANTS & MISCELLANEOUS INCOME
Federal limits on Title I and other grants reduce the funding for the necessary support and services for some of our schools shifting the financial burden to the general budget. Although Central Academy does not receive this money directly, the reallocation of general fund budget does impact us.
SUPPLEMENTAL STATE AID
When you hear legislators talk about 2% increase they are talking about Supplemental State Aid (SSA). The 2% SSA currently being discussed does not cover the cost of inflation which includes the price of classroom supplies, fuel, utilities, food, and the costs of building maintenance, improvements, salaries and insurance. This affects DMPS more than the districts around us because, as the capital city, we have many more tax-exempt properties and government buildings. Unlike in Des Moines, a small property tax increase in the suburbs easily compensates for the shortfall in SSA.
The legislature is also getting ready to pass funding to offset school transportation. This is desperately needed in the rural districts in our state since schools are required to provide transportation for students who live more than 3 miles away from the school (except for those open enrolled). But, it will not add any money to urban district budgets because our students live much closer to their schools. So, despite record levels of school funding, DMPS will not benefit from many of these initiatives.
What can you do to help?
Participate in the DMPS Community Legislative Action Team (CLAT). CLAT meets with legislators, organizes and educates people on the issues we face in school funding, and sets legislative priorities for our district. Go to clat.dmschools.org to learn more about this group. You can also find them on Facebook at DMPS Community Legislative Action Team.
Next week, on Wednesday, February 27, CLAT is sponsoring ‘Day On The Hill’. They are meeting at East High School (815 E. 13th St) at 8:00 AM for a briefing followed by citizen lobbying at the State Capitol from 9:00 – 11:00.
Finally, if school funding is an important issue for you, consider contacting your legislator. You can find your representative in the Iowa Legislature at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find. The President of the Iowa Senate is Charles Schneider. Members of the Education Committee in the Iowa Senate are:
- Amy Sinclair (Chair)
- Chris Cournoyer (Vice Chair)
- Herman Quirmbach (Ranking Member)
- Jerry Behn
- Claire Celsi
- Jeff Edler
- Craig Johnson
- Tim Kraayenbrink
- Mark Lofgren
- Ken Rozenboom
- Jackie Smith
- Annette Sweeney
- Zach Wahls
- Brad Zaun
The Speaker of the Iowa House is Linda Upmeyer. Members of the Education committee in the Iowa House of Representatives are:
- Cecil Dolecheck (Chair)
- Tedd Gassman (Vice Chair)
- RasTafari Smith (Ranking Member)
- Holly Brink
- Molly Erin Donahue
- Tracy Ehlert
- Joel Fry
- Ruth Ann Gaines
- Mary Ann Hanusa
- Lindsay James
- David Kerr
- Monica Kurth
- Mary Mascher
- Heather Matson
- Ann Meyer
- Norlin Mommsen
- Tom Moore
- Sandy Salmon
- Jeff Shipley
- Art Staed
- Sharon Steckman
- Skyler Wheeler
- Cindy Winckler