On behalf of myself, the Northwest AEA Board of Directors and all the staff at Northwest AEA, we would like to welcome all of you back to a new school year…and a new opportunity to serve our students! A unique aspect of being an educator is that we get to start anew each year and build opportunities for kids to succeed. We hope to be partners with you in this effort and work as teammates, as we all serve the students and families of Northwest AEA.

Here are some updates from over the past few months that will affect education in Iowa in coming months:

Iowa Education Summit
On July 25th and 26th, Governor Branstad, Director Jason Glass and Linda Fandel, special assistant for education for Governor Branstad, spearheaded an educational summit for the state of Iowa. I was fortunate enough to attend the summit. It challenged us and brought to light a need for our Iowa schools to improve. The theme of the summit was, “Rising to Greatness: An Imperative for Improving Iowa’s Schools.”

I truly hope that this effort brings the political will for us to improve our schools, because we have been stagnant over the last 10 to 20 years. The summit will bring a new plan for us to provide world-class education and a world-class workforce in Iowa. There were many national and international educational experts at the summit. They focused their comments on long-range plans and hard work to make this happen. I believe Iowans can pull this off, as they are some of the hardest-working people I have ever been around. The final plan will be coming out in Sept. or Oct., and it will give us direction for the next five to 10 years. I look forward to working with you in implementing this plan.

DE/AEA Partnership – Collaborating for Iowa Kids
I wanted to bring you up to date on a partnership that has been formed to support K-12 schools in the state of Iowa. The Iowa Department of Education and the AEA system have been working with a systems-thinking consultant to better serve the K-12 schools. As you know, both the DE and the AEA system have received massive reductions in funds over the last three to five years (both as results of ongoing cuts and the $20 million reduction in funds in AEAs across the state from the 2011 legislative session).  This collaboration effort between the DE and the AEAs is designed for us to work together in helping you meet the plans that will come out of the Iowa summit.

Here at Northwest AEA, the budget cuts have caused a reduction of 31 employees since April 2010. We will continue to strive to redesign how we deliver services to you, but do realize that we are down in employees and are working to be flexible and serve you the best possible way we can. This will allow us to create new partnerships and work with you in your buildings to help serve your children. The collaboration will be essential for us to continue to be a support system for the K-12 system.

Creating partnerships and working collaboratively
Each year, we study the results of our customer satisfaction survey. What we have come to find is that most of our customers are satisfied with our services. In fact, 92.9% agreed or strongly agreed that the services received or participated in met their professional needs. To better serve you, we are continually searching for collaborative efforts to improve our services. Please feel free to share any innovative ideas that you have so that, together, we can better serve children. These partnerships will be needed even more as funds continue to diminish for education.

I hope you have a great year! Please check out our featured blogs this year for continued support in your role:    

For a complete listing of all blogs, please go to the Northwest AEA website. You can also sign up for an RSS feed to automatically receive blog updates (instructions provided).

Please give us your feedback on these tools and their content. We will bring you current and relevant information to assist you in educating your students. Most importantly, we hope you will participate in the conversations. Content and ideas will only be valuable if we build them together, side-by-side.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me or any Northwest AEA employee for assistance.

Educationally yours,

Dr. Tim Grieves
Chief Administrator