• Looking to the Future: Boundaries and Construction

    Posted by Dr. Bruce A. Kimpston on 5/31/2019

    Spring in Ankeny is synonymous with construction, and at Ankeny Schools we have large projects underway.

    First, construction of elementary 11 has kicked off, and we are excited to open this new building in 2020-2021 in the Prairie Trail development. Ankeny remains one of the fastest growing school districts in Iowa. This year, enrollment increased by approximately 428 students, as reported in the Certified Enrollment Report. In February 2018, our community approved a bond referendum for the construction of elementary 11 by 87.5 percent. This elementary will assist us in keeping class sizes reasonable, while continuing our tradition of academic excellence.

    At this point in the process, the natural question everyone has is what will the district do with the boundary lines. The Ankeny Board of Education has determined, with direction from the district’s administration and demographer, that we will pursue boundary changes impacting the south-feeder only, with the intent of pursuing changes in the north-feeder boundaries with the construction of elementary 12.

    That process will be as follows:

    • March-May 2019: Committee drafts three boundary line options for the south-feeder.
    • May 20, 2019: The Ankeny Board of Education reviews the options for the public’s consideration.
    • Summer 2019: A public survey will gather input on the boundary line options for the south-feeder.
    • August 2019: The district will host public forums to gain community input/support on the boundary scenarios.  
    • October 2019: The final boundary plan will go to the Board of Education.

     

    Boundary Timeline and Process

    Larger View: Timeline and Process for 2020-2021 South-Feeder Elementary Schools

     

    While the boundary lines are determined, construction will continue on the new elementary. Furthermore, a committee of stakeholders will be working to name the building.

    The construction will be broken up into four quadrants.

    1. The student commons and gym
    2. The office, kindergarten wing, and first grade wing
    3. The mechanical work, fourth grade wing, fifth grade wing, and art
    4. The media center, music room, second grade wing, and third grade wing

    Next fall, the principal for elementary 11 will be announced and following that time we will begin the process of filling the staff positions.

    In addition to the elementary 11 construction, the district will be pursuing the following projects this summer:

    Parkview Renovation Phase 1: HVAC updates, new ceiling tile, new cabinetry, classroom renovations, and LED lighting
    High School Additions: design process begins, construction will commence next year
    Ashland Ridge: paint and carpet
    Northeast: new ceiling tiles and LED lighting
    Terrace and Southeast: new roofs
    Ankeny Stadium: construction on phases one and two will be completed in August 2019
    East, Northwest, Crocker, Ashland Ridge, and Westwood: new projectors and voice amplifiers


    I would like to thank the community for partnering with us in maintaining our current buildings and helping us plan for growth, which allows us to continue to provide an exceptional learning experience.

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  • STEM in Ankeny Schools

    Posted by Dr. Bruce A. Kimpston on 2/28/2019

    STEM

    This fall, I initiated a Superintendent’s Task Force comprised of parents, community members, staff, administrators, and a school board member to examine STEM in the Ankeny Community School District. The task force has been busy getting this work underway and, aside from winter weather, have made significant progress.

     

    They broke the work into three stages:

    1. First, the task force examined our current reality. They interviewed and collected information from teachers in the STEM field in Ankeny. After collecting that data, they broke it down by skill rather than activity. For example, it would be broken down by knowing computer coding rather than using a specific website that teaches computer coding.
    2. Next, the task force developed the desired outcomes. For this stage of the process, our businesses and community members weighed and shared their expertise of the skills they need in our workforce right now.
    3. Finally, they compared the current reality with the desired outcomes. This led to charting those continuums for grades 6-7, grades 8-9, and grades 10-12. The continuum charts the desired outcomes from small tweaks in our system which can be implemented immediately to revolutionary ideas that may take 3-5 years to implement.

     

    The next step is to put this information into a recommendation for what can be implemented in less than three years and what will take more than three years. This recommendation will be presented to the Ankeny Board of Education in May. I look forward to the results of this task force and the new chapter it will mean for STEM in Ankeny.

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  • Charting a New Course with Orbis

    Posted by Dr. Bruce A. Kimpston on 1/28/2019

    Orbis Thinking and Learning Differently

    Our new college and career readiness program, Orbis, is in its first full year of implementation. We have already seen tremendous results from this innovative learning style and anticipate continued success for the program.

     

    Orbis is the Latin word for “compass”. The program helps students orient themselves to postsecondary aspirations and progress, whether at a learning institution or in the workforce. Students in the program participate in project-based experiences with members of the workforce. Several examples of Orbis work this year include:

    • Ankeny Economic Development Corporation: Students created and produced a video to tell the story of new and growing businesses in the Ankeny community, which was shown at the annual Salute to Industry event.
    • WHO/Channel 13: Students produced short, engaging videos pertaining to news stories for social media.
    • Filling Up Every Learner: Students designed and led projects to raise money to help feed hungry children in our community.
    • Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities: Students led in the design and development of a career fair promoting careers in municipal utility fields.
    • Association for Talent Development: Students tabled at the organization's conference, participated in a breakout session, and are in the process of developing a video for the association about the conference.

     

    As we anticipate the future of education, it is programs similar to Orbis that shape our expectations. We begin to consider how a 21st Century high school experience should look. Is it blended with online learning? Is it in a classroom? Is it through project-based experiences providing students with real-world projects? Whatever course it takes, the future is certainly bright for Ankeny students. For more information on Orbis, “like” them on Facebook or “follow” them on Twitter.

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  • Summit. It's worth the climb.

    Posted by Dr. Bruce A. Kimpston on 11/30/2018

    This year marked the relaunch of our alternative learning center as Summit. Summit is an intensive, secondary, intervention program intended to support Ankeny students in their efforts of obtaining a high school diploma. Students are referred to Summit from either of Ankeny’s high school, and then develop a personalized learning plan to include:

    1. An academic four-year plan
    2. Personalized learning regarding academic and work habits goals
    3. Learning aligned with their most successful method including online, small group, or individual instruction
    4. Physical education activities including individual and dual activities
    5. Identification of each student’s success team to highlight their improvements and encourage when necessary
    6. Postsecondary plans for students

     

    A significant amount of progress has occurred since the Superintendent’s Task Force completed their review in 2017 including:

    • Re-engaging families and the partner high schools (AHS and ACHS) by updating the referral process and coupling it with a new student onboarding process.
    • Updated the “Personal Learning Plans” for students to include six-week goal setting meetings, positive attendance, physical education goal setting, and extended learning opportunities connected to future student careers.
    • Developed Summit Strong Collaborative Commitments that provide base levels of performance for students to achieve before exiting the program.  These commitments align with the Iowa Core 21st-Century skills, LEAD (Leader in Me for Secondary), Executive Functioning Skills, and PBIS expectations from both high schools.

     

    As for the results, we are proud to report that already this year we have seen three students earn their high school diplomas, six students pursue internships, and more than 100 credits earned by our students. Our Summit staff developed a vision statement for the program that I believe is being carried out well through this work: We Honor. We Value. We Climb Together. #WorthTheClimb

     Summit Postcard

     

    To stay up-to-date with Summit, follow them on Twitter @ACSDSummit.

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  • Planning for the Future

    Posted by Dr. Bruce A. Kimpston on 10/24/2018

    We are at an exciting juncture in Ankeny. The transition to a two-feeder system in 2013 was a great success. As we build on that and look ahead, we know the growth in Ankeny is not projected to slow down nor end. Therefore, we must be persistent in our planning for the future of Ankeny Community Schools now. A few of our current and recent plans I would like to feature include:

     

    Summit Logo

     

    In reflecting on changes for future success, we know not all students prosper in a traditional K-12 setting. Last year, I asked a Superintendent’s Task Force to review our existing alternative high school programming for those students at-risk of not graduating. As a result, we relaunched our alternative learning center as Summit and named Jeremy Braden the new principal. Our enrollment continues to grow, and we will do whatever it takes in order for all students to experience the pride of graduating high school and moving forward to personal success. Greg Child once said, “Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” We want our Summit students to know and experience that becoming a graduate is worth the climb. 

     

    Orbis Logo

     

    Last year, we also piloted the new college and career readiness program Orbis. I am pleased to announce Orbis has fully launched this year with two full-time teachers, more than 50 enrolled students for the fall semester, 162 business contacts, and four participating colleges/universities.  As we continue to grow in numbers and advance the world of education, work like this program will shape the future of learning in Ankeny.

     

    STEM Logo

     

    Individuals who seek to be academically and professionally competitive must possess 21st-century skills such as critical thinking and technical skills. Consequently, the Ankeny Community School District must examine whether our programming, curriculum, instruction, and assessment are aligned to prepare Ankeny students to be college and career ready as they graduate. As a result, I have initiated a Superintendent’s Task Force comprised of parents, community members, staff members, administrators, and a Board member to examine STEM in the Ankeny Community School District. 

     

    Through this study, questionnaires and focus groups, it is my goal for the task force to develop a priority list utilizing defined criteria.  A goal I have is not to create a “STEM class.”  Rather, I would like to emphasize not only the careers in these defined fields but the collaborative nature they can play changing the world in other fields.

     

    As we look ahead to this fork in the road, we are able to build on our past success to continue to prepare us to thrive in the future. In thinking about this, a natural question is, “Bruce, do we need to start thinking about the third high school?” I answer that unequivocally with, “yes!” These next few years and the success of these programs will help challenge us as a community determine what a third high school in Ankeny would look like. When we pursue a task force to shape the vision of a third high school, I believe the work we are doing now will impact the answer to the question, “Will a third high school be a comprehensive high school building or a “magnet” school that draws a specific audience of students into it?” While the need for this task force is a few years out, we need to keep this in mind as we carry out our work today. Our choices today will define the future of education in Ankeny.

     

    I am looking forward to doing just that this school year. I believe 2018-2019 is well-poised to be an excellent year for our staff and students. I am honored to serve as your Superintendent.

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  • Construction Season!

    Posted by Dr. Bruce A. Kimpston on 7/27/2018

    Summer is synonymous with construction.  While students have the summer off, crews in Ankeny Schools are are hard at work.  There is no shortage of projects in our ever-growing district.

     

    Here’s a look:

     

    Parkview: This three-to-four year project is underway.  Remodeling will encompass two phases: phase one involves updates to the HVAC system, and phase two includes updates in the classrooms.  One addition students will notice this fall, new short-throw projectors and voice amplification systems in their classrooms.

     

    Prairie Ridge: The school’s five boilers are in need of replacement, new ones will be installed this fall.  The current lights are being traded for energy-efficient LED lighting, ceiling tiles and ceiling grids are also being replaced.  This work will be complete by the first day of school.

     Prairie Ridge construction

     

    Southeast: On the first day, students will notice a change when they walk in the front door.  The entryway is being remodeled to improve safety. This change will assist office staff by giving them a visual of who is entering the building.  Also, all classrooms are getting new carpet along with a fresh coat of paint. The hallways will also be painted.

     Southeast front entry

     

    Terrace: Work is underway at Terrace to install a new roof.  The project will be complete before school starts.

    roof construction at Terrace

     

    Playgrounds: Playground equipment at Southeast, Northeast, and Northwest are in the process of being removed and replaced.  Extra structures at Rock Creek are now going in. At East, a playground area is being moved, so that staff has a better line-of-sight for supervising children.  By relocating the equipment, rather than building an entirely new structure, the district saved money.

    East playground construction       Northeast playground construction

     

    Neveln: Crews continue to make improvements on the second floor, which accommodates our Orbis, Beyond, and Academic Learning Center programs.  Office space is being prepared in anticipation of Nutrition Services moving within the building. Conference space was added to allow room for weekly administrative staff meetings.

    Neveln construction  

     

    District Office: Design for the new HVAC is complete, it will be similar to Rock Creek’s system.  When work is underway, meetings may be moved to temporary spaces.

     

    Looking Ahead: Our construction department is working to secure architects for additions to both high schools.  The design is underway for phase two of Ankeny Stadium which includes the front entry. Bids will be accepted for that project later this summer or early fall.  Design and review for elementary 11 are in its final stages with a bid date of July 31.

    Elementary 11 design  

    As our district grows between 300-400 students each year, we know that construction will continue to be commonplace in Ankeny.  We judiciously plan for the future, as we consistently work on the 10-year facility audit, put together by district staff with input from the public.  

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  • How is Ankeny Schools Keeping Kids Safe?

    Posted by Dr. Bruce A. Kimpston on 6/20/2018

    This year, more than any other year in my time as an educator, I fielded questions regarding nervousness and anxiety for our student’s safety due to a substantial increase in violence, particularly involving schools, throughout the country. 

     

    We surveyed our students this spring to gauge the impacts these national discussions on safety were having in our buildings. I am thankful to report that nearly 90% of our students feel safe coming to Ankeny Schools every day. While their support and the support of their parents who send them to school each day is not lost on me, I would hate for the question to go unanswered, “what is Ankeny doing to keep kids safe?”

     

    As you might imagine, safety for our staff and students involves a multi-pronged strategy and requires the assistance from everyone including students, parents, staff, and the community. These strategies include:

     keeping kids safe

    Infrastructure: Ankeny Schools uses the Aiphone and Raptor systems to help screen the adults entering our building each day. The Aiphones allow our building staff to have visitors identify themselves and their reason for visiting before entering the building. The Raptor system allows our building staff to check the identification through a criminal background history. These two systems, which at times can feel cumbersome, are most effective when followed every day, every time there is a visitor. Please be patient with our staff as they help protect each student’s safety. 

     

    Partnerships: In May 2018, Ankeny Schools partnered with the Ankeny Police Department to provide one police officer in each of our high schools to serve as School Resource Officers (SROs). These officers will build relationships with our students and staff and serve as a point-person for safety.

     

    Mental Health: As we learned through the tragedies of the past year, mental health is an ongoing issue with which our country grapples. There are supports available through school resources that families can utilize. Contact your school nurse or guidance counselor for additional information to help provide support to those needing assistance. 

     

    Culture and Family: The research overwhelming supports the concept that the best way to prevent a child from pursuing a violent act is through relationships. One of the goals of our district is to ensure that each student is connected to at least one caring adult in school. Our staff is dedicated to this goal and invests much in the children of Ankeny. We cannot do this work alone, however. We feel fortunate daily for the support of the families, parents, and community. The strength of the partnership between the parents and educators in Ankeny is truly something this community should take pride in.

     

    While much has been done to provide a safe learning environment for Ankeny School’s staff and students, we still ask that if you see or are made aware of anything that could impact the safety within our buildings, please contact an administrator immediately. This community-wide effort to protect our children is the best way to prevent a future tragedy.

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  • Parkview Renovations Begin this Summer

    Posted by Dr. Bruce A. Kimpston on 4/3/2018

    Built in 1952, Parkview Middle School has served the Ankeny community well throughout the last 66 years.  The building has housed high school students, middle school students, and even some grade school students over the years.  Currently, Parkview is home to south feeder sixth and seventh graders.  This August, architects and designers will begin the process of renovating the building. 

     

    During phase I of renovation, crews will update the HVAC to improve the building's energy efficiency to provide significant savings each year.  Energy-saving LED lighting also will be installed.  This summer, classrooms will receive voice amplification systems and projectors to assist teachers in their day-to-day instruction.  Phase II will begin around August 2019 and comprise classroom updates such as new cabinetry.

     

    Over the next three years, ACSD plans to invest nearly six million dollars in renovating Parkview.  Phase I will be funded by PPEL (Physical Plant and Equipment Levy) and phase II will be paid through SAVE (Secure Advanced Vision for Education - school infrastructure local option sales and service).  The state legislature just extended SAVE through 2029, allowing school districts to utilize this important funding stream for infrastructure projects.

     

    Throughout the renovation, the district construction department will work hand-in-hand with the principals, teachers, parents, and students to ensure there are no disruptions to student learning.

     

    Our schools are important resources; therefore, we continue to update, care for, and maintain our buildings so our staff can focus on the valuable job of educating Ankeny’s students.

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  • What Do Ankeny Teachers Do on Late-Start Wednesdays?

    Posted by Dr. Bruce A. Kimpston on 3/5/2018

    I often get asked, “What exactly do teachers do on late-start Wednesdays?”  Ankeny educators take this time to collaborate, deepen their learning, and discuss strategies that will make them better teachers.

     

    So how does each school determine the professional learning needs of its teachers? The process includes looking at student assessment data, teacher background and experiences, and sometimes changes in curriculum or district/state mandated assessments require a deeper understanding.  This teacher-learning time is very carefully planned and organized by teacher leadership teams and is critical to on-going professional growth.

     

    Teachers at the elementary level expressed an interest in improving their writing instruction and the quality of student writing.  Therefore, learning has been centered on the implementation of a new writing resource Lucy Calkins Writing – Units of Study.  In addition, elementary teachers continue to learn and expand their knowledge of quality literacy instruction focusing on Word Study.  Word Study focuses on phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling, and vocabulary instruction within all elementary grade levels.

     

    Our secondary schools have spent some Wednesday mornings strengthening their knowledge to support the district’s new Work Habits Tool.  Teachers have focused on building a shared understanding of the work habits (organization, productivity/accountability, and collaboration), along with taking time to explore resources that support implementation of work habits instruction within the classroom. Upcoming Wednesday morning sessions will provide staff the opportunity to collaborate, plan for, and reflect on the work habits within their classrooms.

     

    Perhaps one of the most exciting experiences Wednesday mornings provide is collaboration between buildings and across grade-levels.  For example, teachers from Terrace, Northwest, and Southeast elementary schools joined together to continue their learning around Reading Units of Study.  Recently, math teachers from our 6-7 and 8-9 buildings collaborated and strategized to support Ankeny students and build on their learning as they progress through the district.

     

    Ankeny Schools’ mission is to prepare all students to achieve a lifetime of personal success.  Professional development for our teachers is just one way we are fulfilling this mission.  As teachers improve their knowledge and skills, they help students achieve.  When educators learn, students learn more.     

    Photos of Ankeny teachers collaborating on Wednesday mornings.

    teachers working together     

     

    teachers collaborating

     

    teachers working together

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  • Ankeny, Thank You For Your Support

    Posted by Dr. Bruce A. Kimpston on 2/15/2018

    Thank you, Ankeny!  The school district is appreciative of your support in the education of our students.  On February 6, voters passed an $18 million bond referendum to build the 11th elementary.  With this passage, Ankeny Schools can continue to accommodate the district’s growth, while spacing out construction and financial commitments at intentional intervals.

     

    The new elementary will be the second built in the Prairie Trail development.  Building an elementary school takes 18 to 24 months, and while construction is underway, enrollment continues to grow.  By opening an additional elementary, building capacity will keep up with enrollment.  

     

    Construction of elementary 11 will not be the end. We will begin to focus on additions to both high schools and an additional elementary is not far away.  Consequently, land is already purchased in the northwest corner of Ankeny for the next elementary, and the Board is continually looking for additional land for school sites.

     

    Construction of additions to both high schools will begin in the summer of 2020, to be completed by the fall of 2021.  Expanding each of the high school buildings will increase each facility from 1,400 student capacity to 1,860.  This expansion plan has allowed us to make sound fiscal decisions by not only considering the cost of building a new facility, but also considering the cost of staffing a new facility.

     

    Thank you for your support.  As we look toward the additional facility needs in the future, I don’t want enrollment growth to be our legacy.  We will continue to work diligently to meet the educational standards our community expects, while providing the Ankeny experience for all students.

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