Superintendent's Blog

  • Back to School, 2022-2023

    Posted by Adam Spina on 8/12/2022 11:25:00 AM

    On behalf of all our staff, we are eager to welcome back our students and families for the 2022-2023 school year. As previously noted, the summer has been extremely busy with upgrades to facilities, security, and technology. New curricular resources will also be utilized for the first time this fall including a new K-5 core literacy program and numerous additions to our Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) intervention resources.

    Watch the Fox 47 story on WCS summer projects here.

    Another achievement of note is the Secondary 1:1 initiative. For the first time, all middle and high school students will have access to a school-provided Chromebook including a carrying case and charging cable. The Chromebooks will serve as digital textbooks while enhancing blended instruction and learning. They will also be a resource students can use at home to assist with their academic studies. Chromebooks will stay with the student they are assigned to until the device license expires. When this occurs, a new Chromebook will be issued. The most challenging phase of the 1:1 initiative is the assignment of the Chromebooks to all secondary students for the first time this month. After that, roughly one-fifth of the devices will need to be swapped out annually to ensure all are properly licensed and receiving updates. Please reference emails sent by the technology department for more information. 

    WCS enters the school year with energy and momentum. Our tradition of excellence continued over the summer with our girls soccer team capturing the District’s third state championship of 2022. I am also pleased to announce that Williamston High School has been named one of the nation’s best for the fourth consecutive year by U.S. News and World Report.

    Best High Schools, 2022

     

    Every school year brings with it tremendous opportunities and unique challenges. As we move forward I encourage community members to maintain an open dialogue with district staff and stay informed regarding new developments. Because accurate information is so important, when a question or concern arises, reach out to your child’s school for assistance. While social media can be useful for a variety of purposes, know that inaccurate or even harmful rumors can circulate there. As recently as last weekend a misleading post intended to “trash” one of our schools (pun intended) circulated on some social media. As always, we appreciate community members who reach out to get the real story. We are a learning organization and are happy to have open conversations and collaboratively problem solve. Educators are standing by to help when needed to ensure all Williamston students are safe and successful.

    Lastly, we are still seeking help with a number of support staff roles. These include positions such as:

    • Substitute teachers (New Rates)

      • Building Sub (same building, every day, all school year) = $150/day

      • Daily Sub (various buildings, when needed) = $125/day

    • Substitute bus drivers - $20/hour and up to a $3,000 bonus

    • Noon (recess) Supervisors - Up to a $1,000 bonus

    • Afterschool childcare - Up to a $1,000 bonus

    If you or someone you know might be interested in one of these positions or any other open job at WCS, please visit our human resources webpage here

    I look forward to seeing students, staff, and families at our open houses next week (please note the dates and times listed later in this update). Let’s make this another great year for our schools and community!

    Window graphics and security film installed at the STEAM lab in Explorer Elementary:

    Elementary STEAM Lab

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  • Late-Summer Update

    Posted by Adam Spina on 8/4/2022 4:05:00 PM

    The buildings are busy with activity as final preparations are made for the return of instructional staff and students in a couple of weeks. The majority of the larger summer projects are still scheduled to be completed either just before or soon after the start of classes. These include new boilers at the middle school, secure entrances at the preschool and Discovery Elementary, parking lot and driveway repairs, and new HVAC in the Explorer Elementary gymnasium. Unfortunately, the Discovery Elementary roof replacement is only half complete due to a materials shortage. More information about the remainder of the roof installation will be shared when it is available. 

    A number of other smaller-scale projects have been completed or will be in the near future. These include painting at the fitness center, new bottle filler installation, additional security cameras and door locks, classroom door barriers, new carpet and furniture in select locations, additional picnic tables/outdoor seating, and new food service equipment. 

    I am immensely proud of our custodial and maintenance teams for their dedication and attention to detail over the summer. Their accomplishments are sometimes overlooked during the excitement of returning to school. They deserve recognition for their commitment and hard work. Our community can be proud of the condition of the buildings and grounds; our educators and students are set up for a very successful 2022-2023 school year. 

    There are several employment opportunities available throughout the District. If you or someone you know is looking for full-time or part-time employment, please visit our human resources webpage for more information.

    NIESA supports a Kids’ Camp summer water party:

    Kids' Camp, 2022

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  • Mid-Summer Update

    Posted by Adam Spina on 7/15/2022 8:25:00 AM

    It is a busy summer throughout all district campuses as expected. Below are updates on select projects:

    Technology:

    In a pleasant surprise, all ordered technology arrived on time. New document cameras have been connected throughout all schools and appropriately one-fifth of all desktop computers have been replaced as planned. The technology department is also in the process of assigning a unique Chromebook and case to every secondary student for the fall. Details will be forthcoming next month about the process to check out a device. Lastly, the department is working closely with local law enforcement, our IT security consultant, and the vendor to install the upgraded panic alarm system. This is a complicated initiative but significant progress has been made to date. Additional security cameras and programmable door locks for select locations are also in the process of being installed.

    HVAC:

    New boilers at the middle school have been installed and are being connected. Due to supply chain issues, the new middle school chiller is now anticipated to arrive in October and will be a fall project. Work has started to add air conditioning and a new heating system to the Explorer Elementary gymnasium.

    Roofing: 

    The shingles portion of the Discovery Elementary roof replacement project is complete. Materials are delayed for the rubber section of the roof. If materials arrive in the next week or two, there is still an opportunity to have the entire roof finished before school begins. 

    Secure Entrances:

    The entrances for Kids’ Corner and Little Hornets and Discovery Elementary are on pace to be completed by the start of the school year. This past week, drywall was installed and masons have built the new walls for the vestibules in both spaces. 

    Secure entrance construction at Discovery Elementary:

    Discovery Elementary Secure Entrance Construction

    Miscellaneous:

    Parking lot and driveway repairs are underway and will be completed in the next week. The Williamston Community Pool will be repainted by the end of the month, as well as sections of the Community Fitness Center.

    Fireworks over Williamston’s Larkin Nortman Memorial Field during the 2022 Red Cedar Jubilee:

    Jubilee Fireworks 2022

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  • State Soccer Champions!

    Posted by Adam Spina on 6/23/2022 1:16:00 PM

    Listen to the District Podcast here. This edition features Head Soccer Coach Steve Horn and members of the 2022 Girls Soccer State Championship team. The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

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    WCS earned another incredible achievement when the girls soccer team won the 2022 State Championship. The victory concluded an exceptionally successful spring athletics season in which the boys golf team and girls tennis team also competed at the state finals. 

    The soccer team was supported at the championship game by a huge crowd on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Michigan State University’s DeMartin Soccer Stadium.

    State Champs, 2022

    Following the dramatic victory, the team was welcomed back downtown by community members before arriving at Williamston’s soccer complex. 

    I am grateful to Head Coach Steve Horn for his leadership and our student-athletes, parents, and community who supported the soccer team throughout the season. It was a hard-earned, successful run through the state tournament. The championship was an exclamation point on another banner year for Williamston Community Schools. Congratulations to all. Go Hornets!

    Your 2022 State Champion Girls Soccer Team:

    2022 Girls State Soccer Champions!

    Title Town:

    Title Town

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  • Year in Review, 2021-2022

    Posted by Adam Spina on 6/10/2022 12:02:00 PM

    District Podcast Special Edition Featuring Williamston High School Visual Arts Educator, Meagan Kubu. The Podcast can be listened to here. The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

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    Year in Review:

    We have reached the end of another school year, though this one was certainly unlike any other. As always, I remain grateful for the backing of our community, even when addressing difficult issues or circumstances. Williamston Community Schools has continued to distinguish itself as a leading educational institution. Our success is due to a combination of tremendous educators, committed parents, and a supportive community. Educating the children of Williamston is a team effort. Together we continue to provide a world-class educational experience in a safe and supportive setting. I wish our students and instructional staff a peaceful and relaxing summer break. 

    A review of highlights from the 2021-2022 school year can be accessed here.

    If you did not receive a copy of the Community Newsletter that was mailed last weekend, it can be read here.

    Important summer work will commence immediately across all our campuses. Upgrades to security and HVAC, new technology enhancements, and additional planning for the fall will continue throughout the next several months. I encourage you to review the periodic updates which will be sent during the summer months to stay informed with the latest WCS news. 

    Thank you for your ongoing contributions to our schools and for entrusting us with the education of your children.

    Last day of school, 2022:

    Last Day of School, 2022

    Last Day of School, 2022

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  • Celebrating Our Graduates & Honoring Our Retirees

    Posted by Adam Spina on 6/3/2022 7:47:00 AM

    District Podcast Special Edition Featuring Williamston High School Mathematics Educator and Michigan Teacher of the Year Finalist, Ray Herek. The Podcast can be listened to here. The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

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    Celebrating Our Graduates & Honoring Our Retirees

    Congratulations to the 141 Williamston High School students who are graduating this weekend. This senior class is unique and accomplished. They distinguished themselves not only for their many achievements but their perseverance over an extraordinary period of time to be a high school student. Looking back, I can remember most of our graduates as third graders during my time at Explorer Elementary. It has been a privilege to watch them grow up and become young adults who will make meaningful contributions to our society. I am extremely proud of the Class of 2022 and look forward to officially recognizing them as graduates of Williamston Community Schools at commencement.

    Class of 2022

    Thank you and congratulations as well to our esteemed retirees who represent a combined 164 years of service to our students and community. A truly outstanding group of educators. They will be greatly missed. We wish them the very best as they transition to a new chapter of their lives. 

    • Dan Keith - 20 years
    • Elizabeth Proulx - 21 years
    • Dawn Fitchett - 25 years
    • Mitch Lutzke - 31 years
    • Dave Clendenan - 32 years
    • Steve Theis - 35 years

    Pictured below are Mr. Clendenan, Ms. Fitchett, Mr. Keith, and Mr. Lutzke at the District’s 2022 retiree open house:

    2022 WCS Retirees

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  • School Safety: School, Home, and Community Collaboration

    Posted by Adam Spina on 5/27/2022 7:35:00 AM

    District Podcast Special Edition Featuring Brandon Weingartz, Director of Facilities and Operations. The Podcast can be listened to here. The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

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    School Safety: School, Home, and Community Collaboration:

    This was not the topic I planned to write about this week. Regrettably, like many others this year, the past few days have been extremely challenging for students, parents, and educators. In talking with many parents, I know there were countless difficult conversations that happened at home. It is indeed sad these discussions even need to occur. What took place at home made a noticeable, positive difference in preparing students to attend school. Thank you, I know it is not easy. 

    I deeply appreciate our resilient staff who go above and beyond to comfort and sometimes console the children entrusted to their care. The title of educator carries so much more responsibility than solely teaching reading or mathematics. As noted on many occasions, school safety is a collaborative effort between schools, families, and the community.  

    Please continue to look out for each other. Stay informed about where and what children are posting on social media. If there are concerning behaviors or changes in mental wellbeing, bring those to the attention of the appropriate person or resource. Ok2Say can also be used as a method of reporting. 

    There is no shame in seeking assistance with mental health. WCS will continue to have specialists available to work with students and families in need of support. 

    Next week we transition to celebrating our graduates and retirees. That is what we should be allowed to focus on this time of year. In the meantime, be kind and supportive of each other. Thank you again for your ongoing collaboration and commitment to keeping our schools and community safe.

    Wishing you a peaceful and reflective Memorial Day weekend. Classes resume on Tuesday, May 31st.

    Students at Little Hornets Preschool receive school bus safety lessons as they approach their transition to Kindergarten:

    Preschool bus safety lessons

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  • 2022-2023 School Calendar

    Posted by Adam Spina on 5/19/2022 4:47:00 PM

    District Podcast Special Edition Featuring Williamston High School Educator and Head Softball Coach Adelle Gurk. Listen to the District Podcast here. The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

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    2022-2023 School Calendar:

    The Board of Education and the Williamston Education Association have approved the calendar for the 2022-2023 school year. The calendar can be accessed using the “Calendar” tab on the WCS website. A one-page summary document is also available on the website or by selecting the link here.

    While the 2022-2023 calendar mostly mirrors the days of instruction and breaks from the current year, school start and end times have been adjusted by fifteen minutes. The revised school day schedule will be:

    • Elementary Schools: 8:45 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.
    • Middle School: 8:35 a.m. - 3:25 p.m.
    • High School: 8:30 a.m. - 3:20 p.m.

    The new start times are in keeping with best practices for adolescent learners. For the high school specifically, the adjustment addresses existing afternoon class scheduling conflicts with the Wilson Talent Center.

    Please note the open house dates and times. Moving forward, open houses will be held on different dates for elementary buildings and secondary schools. Times and dates for the 2022-2023 open houses will be:

    • Elementary Schools: Wednesday, August 17, 2022, 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
    • Middle School: Thursday, August 18, 2022, 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
    • High School: Thursday, August 18, 2022, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.

    In addition to the calendar for the 2022-2023 school year, calendars were also approved for 2023-2024 and 2024-2025. These dates are also posted to the district website calendar. The structure of those calendars as well as school start and end times will remain consistent with the 2022-2023 school year.

    Williamston Schools Foundation Board Members and WHS student Carly, winner of 2022 Williamston Schools Foundation Golf Outing Poster Contest:

    WSF Golf Outing, 2022

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  • Sinking Fund Update and First Day of School 2022-2023

    Posted by Adam Spina on 5/12/2022 7:35:00 AM

    District Podcast Special Edition Featuring Discovery Elementary Educator and former MSTA Teacher of the Year Becky Durling. Listen to the District Podcast here. The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

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    Sinking Fund Update:

    WCS made a pledge to maintain transparency when the community strongly supported the District Sinking Fund ballot initiative in 2018. As those funds have been utilized, regular updates were added to the Sinking Fund budget page on the WCS website, including photographs of completed work and projected budgets. 


    The 2022-2023 Sinking Fund budget allocation is complete and posted online. Expenditures for next school year from the fund will include the following:

    • $336,016 (includes a planned $65,000 rollover from the 2021-2022 Sinking Fund budget) toward the construction of secure entrances at Discovery Elementary and Kids’ Corner Little Hornets. Gaining positive control of the entrances to our schools was a cornerstone of the Sinking Fund initiative. Once construction is completed this summer, all district schools will have a secure main entrance which includes a vestibule and shatter-resistant film on the entrance windows. All exterior entrances have programmable key card entrance control systems and door prop alarms
    • $56,040 toward the installation of a new chiller (air conditioning system) at Williamston Middle School. This is part of three separate HVAC upgrades occurring this summer/fall
    • $45,000 toward repairs of driveways and parking lots
    • $50,000 set aside for facility repair contingencies during the 2022-2023 school year

    On behalf of our staff and students, we remain extremely grateful for the support of the community in approving the Sinking Fund. It allows for essential upgrades to facilities and safety/security infrastructure while keeping general operating fund dollars in the classroom where they belong. 

    Updates and photographs of Sinking Fund projects will be shared over the summer with summaries posted to the website this fall. 

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    First Day of School, 2022-2023:

    In collaboration with our education association, WCS can announce that the first day of school for students next year will be Monday, August 22, 2022. 

    The remainder of the 2022-2023 calendar will be published upon approval by the Board of Education and when ratified by the Williamston Education Association.

    The #2 ranked Hornets Girls Soccer Team celebrates after a goal during a victory over CAAC rival Haslett. Photo courtesy of Dave Ferguson:

    Girls Soccer, 2022

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  • Moody’s Again Upgrades WCS Financial Ratings

    Posted by Adam Spina on 5/4/2022 4:11:00 PM

    District Podcast Special Edition Featuring Boys Basketball Head Coach Tom Lewis. Listen to the District Podcast here. The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

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    Moody’s Again Upgrades WCS Financial Ratings:

    Moody's ratings are an opinion on Williamston’s credit quality and financial strength. The rating directly impacts our ability to obtain new bonds and aids, also it will define the terms of those bonds. Moody’s Investor Services upgraded Williamston’s overall ratings to an A3, the fourth such upgrade in the past four years. Moody’s noted the District’s increasing fund balance and budget practices as the rationale for the improved assessment. Moody’s also stated the “district's reliance on cash flow borrowing is at its lowest point in over a decade.” The press release can be read in its entirety here. Rating definitions can be referenced here.

    Williamston’s March budget amendment indicated a second straight year of a fund balance above 10% of revenues, a primary goal of the Board of Education. An updated fund balance for this school year will be calculated in the June amendment and finalized at the conclusion of the District’s 2021-2022 audit. 

    As recently as 2015 the District’s fund balance was at about 1%, resulting in the state listing WCS as “fiscally distressed.” This situation was caused by Michigan’s economic recession and a deliberate decision to use cash reserves to maintain academic programming. Unfortunately, the low fund balance also caused Moody’s to reduce the District’s ratings at that time. 

    Significantly improving our fund balance demonstrates the District’s increased level of fiscal stability. Additionally, WCS received another clean audit (an unqualified opinion) this year, reflecting accurate financial reporting, effective fiscal controls, and appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. These practices have been instrumental in Moody’s continuing to recognize the District’s improved financial standing. 

    A reminder that there is no school on Monday, May 9th. Have a wonderful Mothers Day weekend.

    Discovery Elementary students visit Williamston High School to tour the 2022 Spring Art Competition display:

    Discovery Elementary Students visit Williamston High School

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Executive Assistant

Phone: (517) 655-4361

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mrs. Betsy Rueckert