August 26, 2016
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I hope you have enjoyed a wonderful summer! As always, it seems the days go by quickly until happily – it’s time to welcome you to a new school year. We are excited for the 2016-2017 school year and as we prepare for the start of school, please note the first day of school is Thursday, September 1, 2016. This letter also shares more detailed information about the work we are doing as a district.
As we begin the new school year, we are asking all parents and guardians to focus on regular school attendance for their children. We need our students in school every day and all day. Students will not be successful if they are not in school. In order to promote regular school attendance, we are partnering with local leaders, health care providers and day care agencies to help spread the word. We are also part of a national movement call Attendance Works. You can learn more about why regular attendance is so important by clicking here.
Strategic Plan Update
We are pleased to report that our School Board recently approved the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District Strategic Plan. This plan is the culmination of a process that engaged stakeholders (e.g., teachers, staff, parents, students and community members) in defining the measureable outcomes and strategies for achieving our district vision: “The West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, in partnership with family and community, will foster personal excellence and life-long learning for all students.”
The purpose of any strategic plan is to provide focused and coherent direction for an organization’s efforts. Our plan focuses on four core areas called the Building Blocks of Personal Excellence. These four areas represent our commitment to developing smart, caring, and creative kids; employees who are engaged and deeply dedicated to their work; a community that shares in our vision of excellence; and an organization that effectively uses its resources.
A strategic plan is not designed to provide detailed direction for each step but rather to give broad direction for the use of high-leverage strategies to get results. Our plan commits us to continually working to improve our efforts. Through a continuous improvement mindset and set of actions, we believe our students and community will be well-served. To learn more about our plan, access Understanding the Strategic Plan. We look forward using this plan to set a course that helps us achieve our goals over the next five years.
Our district reorganization is nearly complete and we are proud to welcome several new school leaders to our district. We are also excited to welcome new teachers to the district. We are the 12th largest school district in the state, serving over 9,800 students and our dedication to education would not be possible without the hard work of our talented, committed staff. To learn more about our reorganization, access the WAWM Organizational Structure.
This past year, the School Board voted to provide a long-term solution for balancing enrollment 4K-12 through school attendance areas in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District. The policies created for Neighborhood School Attendance Areas were the culmination of a long, complex project involving district employees and community members who met for over eight months to create a plan for fair, equitable, and fiscally responsible educational programming.
The approved district policy resulted in attendance areas to be served by the various elementary, intermediate and high schools in the district. Resident students will be assigned to neighborhood schools in their attendance area based on their resident address and an implementation plan is in place to help us transition to neighborhood schools. To learn more about school attendance areas, access Attendance Area Information.
In addition, our 4K students will now be taught at their neighborhood elementary school and we participating in AGR (Achievement Gap Reduction). This has allowed us to determine class size based on our needs. AGR funding will also be utilized for staff development and teacher coaching in an effort to reduce the achievement gap between low-income students and students in the same grade and subject.
Finally, we have opened an Enrollment Center at our Administration Building to better expedite the enrollment process for students new to the District. We also process all address changes at the Enrollment Center. To learn more about the Enrollment Center, access Enrollment Information. It is important to know that all decisions related to our Neighborhood School Attendance Area policies were made very thoughtfully and with the goal of being predictable in their application.
I am pleased to share that we are currently projecting a 2016-2017 budget that will be “in the black.” This is very good news. Our goal was to develop a budget that is $2 million dollars in the black and we are making good progress towards that goal. As we continue our effort to openly communicate about our fiscal picture we wanted to update you on the things we’ve done to become more efficient while maintaining our focus on ensuring that all students achieve.
Reduced teacher FTE costs by participating in AGR with a focus on instructional coaching.
Reduced facility and maintenance costs by moving 4K into neighborhood elementary schools.
Reduced administrative costs by consolidating district positions.
Reduced school and department budgets by with a 5%.
Reduced the district instructional services budget by an additional $200,000.
Reduced the facility and maintenance budget by an additional $200,000.
In additional to the reductions above, we made the last OPEB payment this year and the last payment on one of our iPad leases which further reduces our on-going costs. We continue to work toward rebuilding our funding reserves. We continue to focus on our fiscal progress by with a commitment to carefully monitoring our resources and staffing needs based on enrollment.
Again, I am happy to welcome you to a new school year. We are confident that every school in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District serves the needs of its students with excellent academic programming, extra-curricular offerings and the ability to build strong relationships with students and parents.
I believe we have set a course for great things in our district and that everyone plays a critical role in developing students who are smart, caring, creative, and ready to pursue their dreams. As always, we appreciate your support and involvement in our schools as we work together to best serve the children of the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District.
Dr. Marty Lexmond