In just a few short days the Fort Dodge Community School District will be opening its doors to the start of another school year. Each year is like another chapter in the story of our schools. The Fort Dodge Community School District has a wonderful story to tell.
We are the area's largest school system, serving more than 3,000 students. As one of the area's largest employers, our nearly 600 qualified staff and 150 substitutes provide us with the opportunity to meet the needs of all our students. We offer our students a full array of courses and extracurricular activities. We offer more than 30 courses in partnership with Iowa Central Community College so that our students can leave us one step ahead in their post-high school career. We are able to offer gifted and talented classes at the lower grades and advanced course work at the high school for those students who are ready for a greater challenge. Due to our size and certified staff, we are also able to work to meet the needs of those students who may have a special need. Whether they have needs in the area of learning or in the area of behavior we are able to work to help our students continue their education and meet the goals they have set.
Taking care of the educational needs of students is our main focus, however we also know that involvement in extracurricular programs whether it is athletics, fine arts or clubs helps support our students in their academic pursuits. Our students and staff have wonderful opportunities for competition and growth in all these areas as well. The Dodgers are continually competing at high levels against some of the toughest competition in the state of Iowa. In our noncompetitive areas our students are also working hard to better themselves and our community.
The Fort Dodge Community School District wants all of our students to be prepared for the next chapter in their own personal story as they finish high school and move on in their lives. We as a school district are also fortunate that not only do we support our own students but we offer opportunities and partnerships with other local and area schools. We offer classes to students either on our campus or over the ICN network so that they can stay at their school. We help support many of our area schools by providing classes for students with special needs from their districts. As a need arises, and space allows, we can give students from other schools opportunities to be involved in extracurricular programs that they might not have had an opportunity to be involved in. We realize that these opportunities benefit all students as they develop friendships and connections that they may not have had otherwise. We also feel that all the school districts benefit as it helps fill class and sport rosters while helping manage costs for all those involved.
As I mentioned, each new year is like a chapter in a story, and like a story no two chapters are exactly the same. But like a story each chapter should build upon the one before it. The Fort Dodge Community School District is also looking to build upon its previous chapters.
As we begin this year we know that we want this year to be better than years past. In order to do this our staff has worked to make some adjustments. We have a new schedule at the high school, which the staff has worked on for several years, to help give our students greater learning opportunities. The schedule also gives opportunities for students to receive support and intervention from staff members in areas where they may be struggling, so that they can succeed. Another adjustment was the development of an Early Learning Center at Riverside. Here all of the district's pre-K, transitional kindergarteners and Riverside kindergarten students will receive their education in a setting that will revolve around the specific needs of young children. We are very excited by this opportunity and at the present time all of the slots for pre-K and transitional K are full and we have started a waiting list. We have also been able to develop a partnership with Headstart so that they will hold a class at Riverside and can work in collaboration with our staff and students.
There are several other exciting adjustments that range from the welcoming of some new staff members to the Dodger team, to the construction of the new student center at the high school. We also know that this will be the final chapter in the FDCSD story for Fair Oaks and Phillips Middle Schools. At the end of this year a new and exciting page will turn as we open a brand new 5-8 middle school.
There is much more to be written in the 2012-2013 chapter of the Fort Dodge Community School District story. I believe that with our staff and our students this will be the best chapter written to date in the story of our school district. If you are currently a Dodger I look forward to what story you will help create this year. If you are not a Dodger I invite you to consider joining us and being part of our story. Finally, if you are just an interested reader I hope we keep you on the edge of your seat cheering the accomplishments and waiting to see what great things we do next for the kids of Fort Dodge.
Doug Van Zyl is superintendent of the Fort Dodge Community School District.