From a slightly later start time for elementary students to the end of early dismissals on Wednesdays to new programs to help more students earn a high school diploma, a new school year means some new things ahead. As the 2019-20 school year gets underway on August 23, a reminder of some of the things that will be new or different at Des Moines Public Schools:
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL HOURS
Last year DMPS implemented new school hours, based on research around the sleep pattern of adolescents, that basically flipped the start times of elementary and secondary schools. This year, after some adjustments in our operations, we are making the start of elementary school a little later. Elementary schools will now begin at 7:45 AM and dismiss at 2:40 PM. There is no change to the secondary school hours. Click here for our school hours.
NO WEDNESDAY EARLY DISMISSALS
After several years of dismissing school early on Wednesday to provide teachers with professional development time, that practice has come to an end and school hours will be the same Monday through Friday. Our educators will have professional development days held at various times throughout the year. Click here for our 2019-20 calendar.
NEW ASSOCIATE PRINCIPALS
DMPS has created a new Associate Principal at every school to focus on educational equity, student achievement and staff development. The change comes from restructuring several positions throughout the district in order to bring more consistent, focused school leadership.
ALL RAILS UNDER THE SAME ROOF
The ninth grade class at Lincoln High School is returning to the Rails’ main campus on SW 9th Street. The change is being made because 9th grade students in a separate building has not had an impact on academic achievement and it will be more efficient in areas such as school bus transportation and meal deliveries. Click here for more about this change.
HIGH SCHOOL SCHEDULE
The high school schedule going into effect this year means more instructional time for students and more regular contact with their teachers. The block schedule, in which students attended a class every other day, is being replaced with a schedule that will mean students attend each of their classes at least four days each week. Click here for more about the high school schedule.
DMPS is preparing to launch new initiatives to help more people attain their high school diploma. The Options Academy is preparing for its first class of 100 students this fall; the program is to help students prepare for the HiSET high school equivalency exam in order to earn a DMPS diploma. The PLACE Academy, beginning in October, is a partnership with DMACC, Iowa Works, and United Way to provide young adults in their early 20s a free night school opportunity to earn an adult high school equivalency diploma through personalized learning along with career enhancement services.
After getting started as a pilot program last year, Virtual Campus is entering this academic year as the online high school of DMPS. Virtual Campus was developed and is taught by DMPS educators, and is the only online high school in the state actually developed in Iowa. Visit virtualcampus.dmschools.org for more information.
Many students and teachers will be returning to schools that have had construction and renovation projects, both big and small, over the summer. DMPS is finishing up 38 building projects that include new gymnasiums, expanded locations for the Boys & Girls Club, and much more. Click here to read about school construction and renovation.
MORE FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH FOR STUDENTS
DMPS is offering more students no-cost meals this year. Studies show students who consistently eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch are prepared to learn better. Through the USDA’s Community Eligibility Program, 8 more DMPS schools are being added to the program this year, bringing the total to 50. Click here for a complete list of schools and more about the program.
SEAT BELTS ON SCHOOL BUSES
The Iowa Department Of Education adopted a new rule this summer requiring new school buses to have seat belts beginning later this fall. DMPS began a pilot program with seat belts on school buses in 2016, and today we already have 26 in our fleet.
MOVING LOCATIONS, CUTTING COSTS
As we recently announced, between now and October DMPS will be in the process of moving hundreds of students and staff to new locations. It is part of an ongoing effort to offset several years of inadequate state funding. The first move is the return of Lincoln High School’s 9th grade class to their main campus. Several DMPS administrative offices will be relocating in the coming weeks, either to 2100 Fleur Drive or to the former Lincoln RAILS (Kurtz Junior High School) building, with the district office building at 2323 Grand Avenue going on the market later this year. Click here for more details on the various moves.
DART CHANGES AND REMINDERS
The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) announced changes over the summer. As we told you earlier this month, unlimited access to DART transportation will now begin at 4:30 PM. Students can ride the bus earlier in the day for 1/2 fare. Those assigned by the district to a DART bus for transportation to and from school ride free before 4:30 PM on their assigned route.