Des Moines Public Schools

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Des Moines Public Schools
DMPS logo.png
Des Moines, Iowa
United States
District information
Type Public
Motto Think. Learn. Grow.
Grades PK-12
Established May 21, 1907
Superintendent Dr. Thomas Ahart
Accreditation North Central Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges
The Iowa Department of Education
Schools 65
Budget $450 Million [1]
Students and staff
Students 33,000+
Teachers 2,255
Staff 5,000+ (Inc. teachers)
Athletic conference Central Iowa Metro League
Other information

The Des Moines Public Schools (The Des Moines Independent Community School District, or DMPS) is the largest public school district in Iowa. It is accredited by the North Central Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges and the Iowa Department of Education.


The district currently serves most of the city of Des Moines as well as parts of suburban Pleasant Hill[2] and Windsor Heights. The city is split into four different area districts. District one covers the west, two covers the north, three covers the east, and district four the south.


Advanced Placement Program and International Baccalaureate Programme

The school district has a well-established Advanced Placement program. Headquartered at Central Academy, the program began in the mid 1980s and is among some of the best in the United States. The program has continued to expand greatly over the last few years at all the area high schools. In 2014, 2015, and 2016 alone there were over 2,500 Advanced Placement tests taken in the district, a 250 percent increase from 2011. Since 1991, 36 State of Iowa AP Scholars have been produced by DMPS. Additionally, over 3,100 DMPS students have earned some variation of the AP Scholar award as of 2016. As of 2018, all five comprehensive high schools have earned a top 50 spot on the University of Iowa's Advanced Placement index six years running. Roosevelt High School has consistently been ranked in the top ten, Hoover High School in the top 20, and the district's Central Academy has been singled out for special recognition as the best in the state.

In 2008, Des Moines Public Schools became the first and only school district in Iowa to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme as another approach to learning for students. In just a few years, the IB program in Des Moines has grown to include ten schools serving more than 5,000 students. The school district is currently home to ten IB World Schools, with the hope of expanding it to several others. IB is a school-wide program providing a framework for teaching and learning that engages students in guided inquiry centered on universal concepts. Guided inquiry emphasizes students’ natural curiosity and provides them with an opportunity to ask questions and seek answers in a collaborative classroom where students and teachers work together to explore the curriculum. At the middle school level, IB students experience the district curriculum enhanced with rigorous international standards across eight subject areas.

List of schools[edit]

High ("Secondary") schools[edit]

Special schools & programs[edit]

  • Scavo Campus — An alternative high school program serving 300 students, named after Vincent C. Scavo located at Central Campus downtown.
  • Ruby Van Meter School - A special secondary school serving students who have moderate and severe disabilities.
  • Central Academy (Est. 1985) - A highly selective public magnet school located in downtown Des Moines nationally recognized for its academic achievements.

Gifted & Talented Program

The DMPS Gifted and Talented Department screens students each year in the fall for possible identification and subsequent gifted and talented programming and services. The program was established by the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at The University of Iowa. DMPS supports research-based continuing staff development opportunities so that all district teaching and administrative personnel may, through their teaching and educational leadership, ensure gifted and talented students learn and achieve at levels commensurate with their exceptional abilities.

Middle ("Intermediate") schools[edit]

  • Brody Middle School
  • Callanan Middle School
  • Cowles Montessori School
  • Gateway Secondary School
  • Goodrell Middle School
  • Harding Middle School
  • Hiatt Middle School
  • Hoyt Middle School
  • McCombs Middle School
  • Meredith Middle School
  • Merrill Middle School
  • Moulton Extended Learning Center
  • Weeks Middle School

Elementary ("Primary") schools[edit]

  • Brubaker Elementary School
  • Capitol View Elementary School
  • Carver Community School (est. 2007)
  • Cattell Elementary School
  • Cowles Montessori Elementary School
  • Downtown School
  • Edmunds Elementary School
  • Findley Elementary school
  • Garton Elementary School
  • Greenwood Elementary School
  • Hanawalt Elementary School
  • Hillis Elementary School
  • Howe Elementary School
  • Hubbell Elementary School
  • Jackson Elementary School
  • Jefferson Elementary Traditional School
  • King Elementary School
  • Lovejoy Elementary School
  • Madison Elementary School
  • McKinley Elementary School
  • Monroe Elementary School
  • Moore Elementary School
  • Morris Elementary School
  • Moulton Extended Learning Center
  • Oak Park Elementary School
  • Park Avenue Elementary School
  • Perkins Elementary School
  • Phillips Elementary School
  • Pleasant Hill Elementary School
  • River Woods Elementary School
  • Samuelson Elementary School
  • Smouse Elementary School
  • South Union Elementary School
  • Stowe Elementary School
  • Studebaker Elementary School
  • Walnut Street School
  • Willard Elementary School
  • Windsor Elementary School
  • Wright Elementary School


School board elections are held every year to fill in vacant seats on the school board. The school board meets regularly at 6:00 PM Central Time on the first and third Tuesdays of every month. These meetings are held at Central Campus downtown, located at 1800 Grand Avenue in Des Moines. In addition, the School Board holds special meetings and work sessions throughout the year as needed. These meetings are broadcast on television and archived on the district's YouTube channel as well.

Awards and Honors

The district has accumulated several honors over the years. Some of these awards include but are not limited to; Districts of Distinction Award from District Administration magazine, the Magna Award, presented by the National School Board Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award, and is also home to multiple Iowa Teacher of the Year and Presidential Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching award-winners.

School Business Partners

Almost all of the schools in DMPS have an area business partner. These partners help their local communities and sponsor several events throughout the year. Some of the larger partners include but are not limited to Aviva, Des Moines University, Hyvee, Principal Financial Group, and The Des Moines Register.

In March 2016, The University of Iowa announced that it has partnered with the scholarship platform on a statewide pilot project to encourage and improve college readiness among Iowa high school students. The goal of the program is to encourage students to take rigorous courses and get involved in school activities, all while saving for future college expenses.


# Superintendent Start of term End of term
13 Dr. Thomas Ahart May 15, 2012 Present
12 Dr. Nancy Sebring July 1, 2006 May 10, 2012
11 Dr. Eric A. Witherspoon 1998 July 1, 2006
10 Dr. Gary Wegenke 1988 1998
9 William Anderson 1980 1988
8 Dr. Dwight M. Davis 1964 1980
7 Dr. John H. Harris 1957 1964
6 Cress O. Hoyt 1956 1957
5 Newell D. McCombs 1941 1956
4 A. W. Merrill 1937 1941
3 John W. Studebaker 1920 1937
2 Z. C. Thornberg 1913 1920
1 W. O. Riddell 1907 1913


  • Channel 12 is the school district's Educational-access television cable TV channel, which is provided through Mediacom Cable Television as part of a franchise agreement with the City of Des Moines. The district televises their school board meetings through this network. Additionally, the school district operates its own social media outlets.

Facts and Figures[edit]


Year District-wide High schools Middle schools Elementary schools Other programs & adjustments
2006-2007[3] 31,221 8,808 6,405 14,369 1,639
2005-2006[4] 31,599 8,570 6,610 14,249 2,170
2004-2005[5] 31,851 8,620 6,876 14,384 1,971
2003-2004[5] 32,150 8,430 7,115 14,497 2,108
2002-2003[5] 32,464 8,696 7,103 14,733 1,932
2001-2002[6] 35,399 10,114 5,504 19,541 240
2000-2001[7] 34,776 9,773 8,116 16,699 188
  • Note: The table rows shown in red represents data that was cited directly from the Des Moines Public Schools enrollment reports. Some of this data conflicts with data from the Iowa Department of Education annual reports. This is because the underlying data is complex, and the table above is a summary of the data collected from the two sources.


High school graduation requirements are determined on a district-wide scope by the School Board. The district has been pressured to make graduation requirements more challenging, as students must be adequately prepared for higher education or competitive enough to work in today's business world.

Credits are units of measure in determining an individual student's progress through High School. For each course semester in which a student completes (with a grade of D- or better), they are awarded one-half credit unit, with the exception of Physical Education (one semester of P.E. is equal to an eighth of a credit).

Under Iowa law, beginning with the class of 2017, all students must complete coursework in Financial Literacy, Health Literacy, Technology Literacy, and Employability Skills.

In order to be considered on track to graduate in four years, students must meet the following credit requirements each year:

   6.0 credits going into Sophomore/10th grade year
   12.0 credits going into Junior/11th grade year
   18.0 credits going into Senior/12th grade year

The table below shows the graduation requirements for each of the graduating classes by year:

Graduating Year Total Req. Social Studies English Mathematics Science Fine/Applied Arts Physical Education
2009 23.0 3.0 3.5 3.0 3.0 1.5 1.0
2008 21.0 3.0 3.5 2.0 2.0 1.5 1.0
2007 21.0 3.0 3.5 2.0 2.0 1.5 1.0
2006 21.0 3.0 3.5 2.0 2.0 1.5 1.0

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Des Moines Public Schools (2006). "Enrollment Report as of October 2, 2006" (PDF).
  4. ^ Des Moines Public Schools (2005). "Enrollment Report as of September 16, 2005" (PDF).
  5. ^ a b c Des Moines Public Schools (2004). "Enrollment Report as of September 17, 2004" (PDF).
  6. ^ Iowa Department of Education (2001). "Certified Annual Reports for FY01-02 (Spreadsheet)". Archived from the original on 2004-12-12.
  7. ^ Iowa Department of Education (2000). "Certified Annual Reports for FY00-01 (Spreadsheet)". Archived from the original on 2004-12-12.

External links[edit]