Superintendent's Blog

  • Upcoming Community Events

    Posted by Adam Spina on 12/1/2022 8:02:00 AM

    District Podcast Special Edition

    The Podcast features Discovery Elementary Educator Danielle Kopper. Listen to it here or use the following links:

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    Upcoming Community Events:

    There are a number of WCS events taking place over the next week. Some of the highlights are listed below:

    1. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Survey. WCS is collaborating on a grant proposal that could contribute as much as $1,000,000 to the community to improve routes that students use to walk or bike to school. Part of the extensive grant application involves a parent survey. Look for an email from your child’s school on Friday, December 2nd with the survey and additional information on the SRTS initiative.

    2. Community School Safety Forum. Community members are invited to provide input on school safety initiatives currently under consideration. There will also be an opportunity for questions on school safety-related topics and policy. The discussion will be held at the Board/Multi-Purpose Room at Williamston Middle School from 4:00 - 5:30 pm on Thursday, December 8th. Williamston Chief of Police Jim Wolf and NIESA Director Michael Yanz will also be attending and available for questions.

    3. Pancakes with Santa. The Williamston Schools Foundation is hosting Pancakes with Santa on Saturday, December 3rd from 8:00 - 11:00 am at Williamston High School. See the flyer below for additional details.

    4. 25th Annual Light Parade. WCS will be well represented at the Williamston Light Parade presented by the Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce. The parade steps off downtown at 6:00 pm on Saturday, December 3, and will be followed by a tree lighting at City Hall. I hope to see you there!

    5. Community Awards Nominations. A reminder the Chamber is accepting nominations for the 2022-2023 Community Awards. Nomination forms and criteria can be found on the Chamber website or by selecting the link here. Please consider nominating a deserving WCS educator for the Educator of the Year award.
      2022-23 Chamber Awards Flyer

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  • Chamber of Commerce Community Awards

    Posted by Adam Spina on 11/17/2022 4:00:00 PM

    District Podcast Special Edition

    The Podcast features WCS Librarian Micki Magee. Listen to it here or use the following links:

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    Chamber of Commerce Community Awards:

    The Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce is resuming its annual Community Awards Banquet. The Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce is accepting nominations for businesses and community members who exemplify selfless service in their respective roles and enterprises. One of the nominations is for Educator of the Year. The nomination criteria are:

    • Educator is held in high esteem by students, colleagues, and families

    • Educator currently teaches or has taught in the Williamston area

    • Educator contributes to co-curricular activities and/or student-oriented events outside of the school day

    • Educator collaborates effectively with others to enhance district programming,

    instruction, facilities, transportation, or other essential services

    • Educator serves on school and/or district leadership teams or advisory committees

    • Educator is visible in the community and is an advocate for their district and public education


    Nominations for Educator of the Year or any other category can be emailed to me at spinaa@gowcs.net.The nomination form and information on other award categories can be found at the Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce website or by selecting the link here. Nominations are due by December 12, 2022, at 4:00 pm. 

    Award recipients will be selected in December by the Chamber Board of Directors. The Awards Banquet is scheduled for February 23, 2023. Thank you in advance for your support of the event and for recognizing an outstanding member of the WCS team.

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  • Thank you, Williamston!

    Posted by Adam Spina on 11/11/2022 8:35:00 AM

    District Podcast Special Edition

    The Podcast features Williamston High School Science Educator Theresa Billy. Listen to it here  or use the following links:

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    Thank you, Williamston!

    The Community Recreation Millage Renewal was overwhelmingly approved this week. The renewal will provide recreation program continuity for the next decade. It also ensures $362,000, otherwise used to subsidize the enrichment office, stays in the classroom where it belongs. WCS looks forward to continuing to provide these facilities and services to our community. I appreciate the ongoing support for our district and the continued opportunity to serve Williamston with the Community Pool, Fitness Center, and Enrichment programs.

    Not yet a member? Find out more information under the “Our Community” tab on the WCS homepage or by selecting the link here.

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  • School Cancelation Process, 2022-2023

    Posted by Adam Spina on 11/3/2022 1:35:00 PM

    District Podcast Special Edition

    The Podcast features Williamston Middle School Social Studies Educator Molly Stump. Listen to it here or use the following links:

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    School Cancelation Process, 2022-2023

    While we have enjoyed a beautiful autumn thus far, winter weather is inevitably on the way. The process to cancel school mirrors last year. A review of the steps involved:

    Safety of students, parents, and staff is the foremost consideration when evaluating if school should be canceled. There are several variables in the final decision. They include:

    1. An early morning report from our Director of Facilities and Operations on road conditions in Williamston

    2. Input from law enforcement, the road commission, and staff from neighboring districts

    3. Consultation with Superintendents from other Ingham County Districts

    If the temperature is 20 degrees or more below zero (with or without wind chill), school will be automatically canceled.

    Note that each local district in the area makes its own independent decision to cancel school. Road conditions in Williamston (including roads in all parts of our district) may differ greatly from those in other districts. If you disagree with a decision to open school, it is always your right to keep your child at home. If you make this choice, please contact the appropriate school office so we know where your child is and that they are safe.

    For students attending the Wilson Talent Center (WTC). If Mason Public Schools have canceled school due to road/weather conditions, the Ingham Intermediate Schools are also closed. Consequently, the WTC will be closed. If Williamston is open on a day Mason schools are closed, our WTC students have space available to study at Williamston High School. However, WTC students will only be required to attend class during their usual hours at WHS. Questions regarding this arrangement can be directed to the high school office.

    School cancellations are broadcast on a variety of sources. These include the District website, School Messenger, and local media outlets. Families can subscribe to both School Messenger and the RSS feed on the announcements on the website. That way you will receive an automatic notification to your phone, email, and/or news feed. Our goal is to make a decision to cancel no later than 6:15 am.

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    Community Recreation Millage Renewal:

    Information on the Community Recreation Millage Renewal on the November 8, 2022 ballot can be located here. This is a millage renewal, which is a zero-tax increase from current rates. Highlights include:

    • Maintaining an annual revenue of $362,000 to enhance the District’s recreational facilities, playgrounds, and enrichment programming
    • Providing funds to operate a full-service fitness center and pool with nearly 700 registered community users and provides award-winning facilities for over 2,200 students and staff
    • Subsidizing district facility use, including for senior citizens and community-based youth sports, with special memberships for students and military service members

     

    The WCS Transportation Department created a “haunted school bus” for Downtown Trick or Treating:

    Haunted School Bus, Halloween, 2022

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  • 2021-2022 District Audit

    Posted by Adam Spina on 10/28/2022 9:15:00 AM

    District Podcast Special Edition

    The Podcast features Williamston Middle School Science Educator Kelly Eddy. It can be listened to here and also be accessed at the following links:

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    2021-2022 District Audit

    The District’s 2021-2022 financial audit was presented to the Board of Education at its October 24 regular meeting. The audit was conducted by Maner Costerisan and included a review of the District’s general operating fund and sinking fund. WCS was also subject to a single audit of Federal spending, most of which consisted of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding. The assessment of the District’s financial statements resulted in an unmodified opinion (clean audit) by the auditing firm. The unmodified opinion continues a tradition of strong fiscal management by WCS and appropriate utilization of taxpayer funds.

    Some key highlights of the audit include:

    • WCS increased its fund balance to 17.2% of revenues. The District has earmarked a portion of this reserve funding for future costs including staffing expenses both this year and over the next couple of school years. It is anticipated the fund balance could decrease during that period as those planned expenditures are accounted for. 

    • WCS paid off $1,100,000 of bond-related debt and pension liabilities. This included the 2021 School Bond Loan Fund refinancing which will save Williamston taxpayers almost $500,000 over the balance of the loan period.

    • District sinking fund expenditures were in accordance with state law. 2021-2022 expenditures included roofing projects, security upgrades, and resurfacing of the district tennis courts. Significant funding from the 2021-2022 sinking fund budget was reserved in order to support the construction of secure entrances, which were completed this summer. This financial adjustment and expense will be reflected in the 2022-2023 audit.

    Full details of the 2021-2022 audit can be found at the link here.

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    Safe Routes to School

    On November 3, 2022, WCS will host a Kick-off meeting regarding the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grant initiative. The meeting will provide a forum to discuss the results of the Walking Audit conducted on October 11, 2022. The session will also provide opportunities for additional community input regarding walking and biking routes to school buildings. The SRTS Kick-off meeting is part of a grant proposal being developed to improve safety for students traveling to and from Williamston schools. The meeting will be facilitated by representatives from Michigan State University and the Michigan Fitness Foundation. It will be held at the board/multi-purpose room at Williamston Middle School beginning at 6:00 pm. Enter the school through Door #8 which is located at the back of the building. See the flyer further in the update or select the link here for additional information.

    SRTS Kickoff Meeting Flyer

    SRTS Kickoff Meeting Flyer

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  • Centurion Panic Alarm

    Posted by Adam Spina on 10/19/2022 8:15:00 AM

    District Podcast Special Edition

    The Podcast features WHS/WMS Educator and Choir Director Lindsay Campbell. It can be listened to here and also be accessed at the following links:

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    Centurion Panic Alarm System

    As part of the district’s goal to improve safety and security, the Centurion Panic Alarm system was purchased and installed this summer. The alarm is designed to immediately inform staff of a serious threat while significantly decreasing the response time for first responders. Within seconds, the system notifies law enforcement of the building and location where the alarm occurred. It can be activated from 140 different positions throughout the district as well as mobile buttons carried by select staff. Upon activation, the system plays a pre-recorded message throughout the affected building and sends a visual notification, an email, and a text message to applicable staff. 

    With a “high-tech” security system, there is always the possibility of accidental activation. Parents will be informed if that unlikely scenario were to occur. The Centurion Alarm will continue to be tested and fine-tuned when students are not in school, with the most recent tests occurring this past Monday.

    Aerial view of Williamston Middle School:

    Aerial View of Williamston Middle School

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  • Community Recreation Millage Renewal and Be Nice Football Game

    Posted by Adam Spina on 10/6/2022 4:01:00 PM

    District Podcast Special Edition

    The Podcast features Williamston Middle School educator Phillip Brillantes. It can be listened to here and also be accessed at the following links:

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    Recreation Millage Renewal and Be Nice Football Game:

    A proposal to renew the Community Recreation Millage will be on the November 8th ballot. The .7321 mill generates $362,000 annually for Williamston Community Schools. The proposal renews the millage for another ten years; it does not increase the millage. 

    The Recreation Millage subsidizes the operation of the Community Pool. It also supports the operation of the Community Fitness Center and Enrichment Office. There are nearly 700 registered members who take advantage of the pool and fitness center. Many more members of the community participate in special programming facilitated by the Enrichment Office. Examples include yoga classes, water aerobics, pickleball, swimming lessons, youth sports, and the annual Daughters Night Out and Sons Plus One events.

    The ballot language is below:

     

    Williamston Community Schools

    Millage Renewal Proposal to Provide Funds

    To Operate a System of Public Recreation and Playgrounds

    This proposal will allow the school district to continue to levy public recreation millage previously approved by the electors that will expire with the 2023 levy.

    Shall the currently authorized millage rate limitation of 0.7321 mill ($0.7321 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property in Williamston Community Schools, Ingham County, Michigan, be renewed for a period of 10 years, 2024 to 2033, inclusive, for the purpose of providing funds for operating a system of public recreation and playgrounds; the estimate of the revenue the school district will collect for such recreation program if the millage is approved and levied in 2024 is approximately $362,000 (this is a renewal of millage that will expire with the 2023 tax levy)?

    Learn more about the Community Recreation Millage Renewal under the “Community” tab on the WCS Homepage or by selecting the link here

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    Be Nice - Mental Health Awareness Football Game:

    On Friday, October 7th, the WCS home varsity football game will be dedicated to increasing awareness of and eradicating the stigma associated with mental illness. Sponsored by the Williamston High School Be Nice Student Organization, the event will include important information for community members about student mental health and suicide prevention. On behalf of the WHS Be Nice Student Organization and the WHS Football and Cheerleading Programs, I invite you to attend and learn how to Notice, Invite, Challenge, and Empower young people experiencing changes or difficulties with their mental health. Our community plays a vital role in providing a safe and supportive environment for our students. Through increased understanding, your response or intervention to a child in crisis could save a life. Thank you in advance for your support of this critically important initiative.

    Be Nice Football Game, 2022

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  • Homecoming Week, 2022

    Posted by Adam Spina on 9/29/2022 11:10:00 AM

    September/October District Podcast

    The Podcast can be listened to here and also be accessed at the following links:

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    Homecoming 2022:

    Wishing our community and alumni a Happy Homecoming! It has been a great week full of special events and school spirit. As always, we are grateful for the community's support and the many efforts made throughout the year to make WCS successful. A reminder our Homecoming Parade is Friday, September 30 at 6:00 pm in downtown Williamston. Marching Band pregame performance starts at about 6:45 pm with the Homecoming Football game beginning at 7:00 pm at Larkin Nortman Memorial Field. 

    High school students at the Homecoming Bonfire this week at WHS:

    Homecoming Bonfire, 2022

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  • Leaders in STEAM, Six Years Later

    Posted by Adam Spina on 9/16/2022 8:35:00 AM

    District Podcast, Special Edition

    This Podcast edition features District School Nurse Amanda Gailitis. The Podcast can be listened to here and also be accessed at the following links:

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    Leaders in STEAM, Six Years Later:

    WCS undertook an ambitious plan six years ago to position the District as a leader in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) education. The goals included:

     

    1. Producing graduates prepared to successfully transition into a labor force that requires applicable skill sets

    2. Engaging students in authentic instruction with practical application opportunities

    3. Adding STEAM-focused classes and facilities

    4. Increasing the number of female students enrolled in STEAM-related courses at the high school

    As the District was simultaneously climbing out of a difficult financial position, making progress on these goals required aggressive grant writing, faculty support, and community involvement. Due to that support, tremendous progress has been made.

    Original student research displayed at the 2022 Math and Science Academy Showcase:

    2022 MSA Showcase

    Advanced Placement Computer Science was added at Williamston High School. This course also was recognized for achieving gender parity by the College Board, resulting in WHS winning the 2019 Computer Science Principles Female Diversity Award. WHS was also named to Newsweek Magazine’s Top STEM High Schools List in 2020.

    Extension opportunities have also been added for students seeking to advance their skill sets. The high school Innovative Vehicle Design team continues to receive recognition for STEAM application. First Robotics programs have been added at WHS and WMS. Note, we are looking for a middle school robotics coach this year, select the link here for more details. 

    The WHS First Robotics team competes during the 2022 season:

    WCS First Robotics, 2022

    This year the Automation and Robotics elective at Williamston Middle School will run four (4)  full sections, evidence that engaging students at the elementary level is driving interest in STEAM as students transition into the secondary level.

    At the elementary level, STEAM was added as an ARC class so that all elementary students could experience applying content learned in core subject areas. The STEAM lab was the recipient of the 2019 MASB/SET SEG Education Excellence Award. STEAM concepts are integrated into WCS classrooms of even our youngest learners, promoting the practical application of these integrated academic disciplines. 

    Young Fives Growing in Our Garden STEAM event, May 2022:

    Growing in Our Garden, 2022

    Facility upgrades have also been a part of the STEAM initiative. The middle school added two innovation labs and the high school a new research laboratory, all completely funded through community donations. WCS was also the recipient of a $130,000 Dart Foundation grant which was used to purchase new STEAM instructional tools, including flexible seating furniture and science equipment. 

    I am appreciative of the efforts of our educators and the backing of our community during this challenging yet rewarding journey. We look forward to further advancing our progress and assessing our impact on WCS graduates regarding STEAM education in the years to come.

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  • New District Student Support Positions

    Posted by Adam Spina on 8/31/2022 9:03:00 AM

    District Podcast, Special Edition

    This Podcast edition features elementary STEAM educator Sean Ferguson. The Podcast can be listened to here and also be accessed at the following links:

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    New District Student Support Positions

    Over the last six months or so, WCS has received a number of grants which have allowed us to hire new support staff. All are specifically focused on assisting students and families to promote a safe and healthy school environment. Below are job descriptions and contact information for three of these positions.  

    • District Health Resource Advocate/Mental Health Specialist: Heather Lewis, lewish@gowcs.net

    Ms. Lewis provides direct support to students, staff, and families requiring mental health assistance, resources, and/or strategies. Examples include teaching applicable classroom lessons, providing professional development, and collaborating with school counselors and social workers for mental health-related programming and intervention. 

    Ms. Gailitis is a registered nurse responsible for developing and overseeing student medical and health plans. She also oversees training for district staff on first aid and implementing student health and medical plans/protocols.   

    Ms. Evans administers the District’s COVID response protocols. This includes advising families on current COVID guidelines, distributing and accounting for COVID testing kits, and tracking school-associated COVID cases to provide appropriate notifications to parents and the health department. 

    Please reach out to these members of our team throughout the year if their areas of expertise can be of assistance to your children or family.

    Williamston High School students participate in Yoga exercises:

    Yoga at WHS, 2022

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Executive Assistant

Phone: (517) 655-4361

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mrs. Betsy Rueckert