As the Superintendent for the Washington CSD, I would like to personally welcome back students, parents, and faculty for the 2016-17 school year. I am excited for the opportunities and things happening in our district as we embark on another school year.
The Stewart project that will house a daycare and new preschool classrooms is progressing very well. Our initial hope was to occupy the building by January 2017, but it appears we will beat that by a long shot. It is to early to put a hard date to occupancy, but if all continues to progress, we could be in by Thanksgiving. Because we must move students out before Stewart West before it can be demolished, we are not sure that the parking and drop off can be completed until spring. So while the timeline is exciting, there will be challenges because of the demolition of Stewart West and the impending paving of the parking lot that will be weather dependent.
The Auditorium project is hitting the home stretch. Finishes are really beginning to take shape and we have a few of those finishes on back order, but things are still progressing. While we won’t have occupancy in time for the start of school, we will have our fall play as well as other activities in the auditorium. I can’t thank the taxpayers, individual donors, and the Washington County Riverboat Foundation for funding this project. Our school and community will get many years of use out of this facility and the opportunities for our students will be second to none.
It is easy to be excited about new buildings, but let us not forget about the already robust opportunities available to our students. The 1:1 initiative is entering it’s 4th year at the high school and the 3rd year at the middle school, 2nd year at Lincoln with Chromebooks. Chromebooks are a great alternative for providing web access to our students at a very low cost. This is a large capital commitment for the district, but provides unparalleled access for our students and teachers. The ongoing commitment to providing equal access for all of our students is something that we believe is very important in preparing them for the 21st Century workplace, whether that be post-secondary education, trade training, or the world of work. Giving our students access to the latest technologies exposes them to real-world opportunities while receiving their education.
Regional Education Hub
The Washington County Regional Center is also entering its third year of operation. I hope all of our staff, students, and community realize that this Regional Academy, drawing students from surrounding districts, truly sets the Washington district apart from 99% of the districts in Iowa. By my count, there are only 6 such centers like this in the state. Our students will have the opportunity to earn enough college credits to earn an Associate of Arts degree while still in high school. At our July Board meeting, Tera Pickens, Director at the Regional Center, shared that student’s at Washington High School enrolled in 1865 credit hours for 2015-16, equating to $276,020 in tuition savings to our families. Having this center in our community is an unbelievable opportunity. I would encourage your students to take full advantage to explore the opportunities available. In my mind, we are better equipped to offer a differentiated learning plan for all students, because the Kirkwood Center is right in our town.
Because we offer the surrounding communities, including Keota, Highland, Waco, Lone Tree, and Mid-Prarie the opportunity to send students to Kirkwood, Washington CSD becomes the Regional Education Hub for post-secondary access. We will continue to work with Kirkwood in an effort to meet the ever-changing demands not only for students but also our local and regional businesses.
We have again been named a top workplace in Iowa. This is the 4th consecutive year. Despite this honor, I will continue to challenge our staff, encourage them to take risks to better their profession, and support them in this journey of public education. I look forward to meeting more and more of our students, faculty and community members as we kick off another year. All of us have a lot to be proud of at Washington Community School, and we encourage you to be an active part in your students education.
We ARE Washington!
I accentuate the “ARE” in We ARE Washington, because I think we have something that is unique and special. It is easy and normal to take for granted the resources that are available to us. From all of the civic groups that are active in town, to Washington Economic Development Group(WEDG), to businesses who utilize technology to provide innovative goods and services to not only local, but national and international partners, to the early childhood through community college education connections that are now established. As I have spent time listening and learning, there are so many people who are part of something really unique and special in Washington. One of my main goals is to let more people know about both the town of Washington and especially Washington Community School and the rich and diverse opportunities that we offer. They need to work in tandem, and I am so appreciative of all of the great things in place. My hope is that we can keep moving them forward together. Have a great school year. We ARE Washington!
Mr. Jeff Dicks
Superintendent of Schools