Superintendent's Blog

  • Mid-Summer Update, 2024

    Posted by Adam Spina on 7/11/2024 3:17:00 PM

    District Podcast Special Edition

    This edition features Explorer Elementary Teacher Kara Bahmer. Listen to it here or use the following links:

    WCS Ballot Initiative Fast Fact:

    Williamston Memorial School (now Little Hornets Preschool, Kids’ Corner Childcare, and parts of Explorer Elementary) was originally built in 1950. Learn more about the August 6, 2024 WCS Ballot Initiatives by selecting the link here.

    The two WCS proposals are on the back side of the August 6 ballot. View the ballot language below:

    Proposal #1: Bond Proposal

    Proposal #2: Operating Millage

    Williamston Memorial School Plaque

    Mid-Summer Updates:

    Continuous improvement of school security (Board Goal #4) remains a top priority for WCS. Numerous safety-related projects are underway this summer. Highlights include:

    ZeroEyes is being added to upgraded security cameras strategically located throughout all district schools. The program works by identifying firearms via the security camera, confirming the firearm is legitimate through an operations center, and relaying that information back to the school. Used in conjunction with the Centurion system already in place, ZeroEyes has the potential to assist with identifying a threat in or near a school building. Also, it greatly reduces the response time to such an incident. WCS earned a school safety grant which provided funding for this firearm detection system. Learn more about Zero Eyes here.

    WCS also applied for and received several grants to add additional AED devices throughout the District. Most recently, WCS was selected by the Thomas Smith Memorial Foundation for an AED, the sixth additional device added within the District in the past seven months.

    Thomas Smith Memorial Foundation AED Donation

    This spring while conducting an internal review of our medical response protocols, we identified a gap at the elementary campus. Hundreds of children and adults utilize the elementary playgrounds after school for athletics and other activities. However, there was not an AED device available when the buildings were closed. The Williamston Kiwanis Club generously donated funds to install an outdoor AED cabinet. The cabinet maintains a climate-controlled environment so an AED can be stored outdoors year-round. The outdoor AED is located behind Discovery Elementary at Door #8, near the elementary playgrounds.

    Outdoor AED at Elementary Campus Playgrounds

    We also continue to strengthen security at our school entrances. New exterior steel doors will be installed at seven entranceways. Additional security window film and programmable access points were added to select locations.  

    Effective, accurate communication is critical in an emergency. This summer the District radio system was upgraded to a digital platform, allowing for better clarity and range than our previous analog radios.

    Digital Radio Repeater, 2024

    Finally, the District Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) is undergoing several updates. The EOP is updated regularly. Lessons learned from internal drills, feedback from first responders and school safety consultants, and research on best practices contribute to EOP revisions. This fall WCS will host a school safety exercise to practice sections of the most recent EOP updates. The event will be designed by a school safety consulting firm and involve the participation of first responders from throughout the area.

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    Coffee and Conversation, July 14, 2024 Flyer

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  • Year in Review - 2024

    Posted by Adam Spina on 6/7/2024 12:25:00 PM

    District Podcast Special Edition

    This edition features Discovery Elementary Teacher Kelly Goudreau. Listen to it here or use the following links:

    Year in Review:

    As we conclude another school year, I want to thank our students, staff, and community for all their support and dedication. As with any year, we faced challenges that required creative problem-solving, understanding, and determination to overcome. Our team continued to rise to the occasion, reaffirming why WCS remains a premier educational institution. 

    We have much to celebrate and be grateful for. This year the District published over 40 news stories. Topics ranged from student and faculty accomplishments to how our community rallied together after the tragic tornado last fall. Select the link here to read through a listing of these important events. Additionally, with the many activities occurring during the last couple of weeks of school, I have included some bonus photos below in the “Scenes from Around the District” section. There has certainly been a lot going on. It is always a privilege to share these highlights with our community.

    While our students and faculty are away for the summer, the district will be busy making improvements and preparing for the 2024-2025 school year. Please look out for updates this summer for WCS news and information regarding the resumption of classes in August. 

    Lastly, a reminder that Williamston has two ballot proposals for consideration on August 6, 2024. Information on those proposals can be found at the link here. As always, call or email me with any questions regarding these initiatives. 

    Wishing you a restful and safe summer.

    Read the 2023-2024 WCS Community Newsletter here.

    Last Day of School, 2024

    Congratulations and Thank You to our Retirees

    A phenomenal group of educators who have positively influenced the education and lives of thousands of Williamston students. We wish you the very best in your next chapter. Thank you for your invaluable and lasting contributions to our schools and community.

    • Julie Monette - 30 years
    • Marian Shear - 28 years
    • Robin Monette - 28 years
    • Phillip Brillantes - 25 years
    • Joseph Rasmus - 24 years
    • Gayle Cobb - 23 years

    WCS Retirees, 2024

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  • Congratulations Class of 2024

    Posted by Adam Spina on 5/30/2024 1:47:00 PM

    May/June District Podcast

    Listen to it here or use the following links:

    Congratulations Class of 2024!

    The Class of 2024 concluded classes at Williamston High School. The graduates earned numerous individual and collective recognitions. They contributed to Williamston High School being the top-rated school in Ingham County every year they were enrolled. WHS was also named to the US News and World Report “Best US High Schools” all four years of their tenure. The class features 60 students who will graduate Summa Cum Laude (a GPA of 3.9 or better).

    Class of 2024

    Most importantly, The Class of 2024 were excellent role models for Williamston students throughout the district. They did things the right way, worked hard, and inspired others by setting a positive example. They will undoubtedly succeed, achieve their academic and professional goals, and be good people. 

    I look forward to seeing all they will accomplish. 

    Congratulations and thank you to our graduating students, their parents, and all the Williamston faculty and staff who supported them.

    Ballot Proposal Informational Meeting 5 June

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  • WCS August 6, 2024 Ballot Proposals

    Posted by Adam Spina on 5/16/2024 5:11:00 PM

    District Podcast Special Edition

    This edition features elementary Fit for Life Teacher Jordan Williams. Listen to it here or use the following links:

    WCS Ballot Proposals

    The Board of Education unanimously approved two proposals to be considered by voters on the August 6, 2024 ballot. The bond proposal (Proposal #1) was studied for two years, including a fiscal analysis, completion of a comprehensive facilities assessment, community survey results, and community bond steering committee recommendations. 

    An overview of the two proposals are outlined below:

    Proposal #1: WCS Bond Proposal

    WCS will ask voters to consider a $38.5 million bond proposal to enhance the safety and functionality of our facilities without increasing taxes from their current rates. The funds generated will address long-standing concerns well-known to current and former students, staff, and parents. The focus areas of the bond are:

    • Redesign of the traffic patterns to include pickup/dropoff routes at the elementary campus

    • Construction of new larger, modern classrooms for grades 3, 4, and 5 at Explorer Elementary.

    • A complete renovation of the "circle" at Explorer Elementary, to result in build-to-suit learning spaces for Art, STEAM, and music. Additional new classrooms for Spanish, Special Education, or other uses will also be incorporated into the design

    • Construction of a new larger gymnasium at Explorer Elementary

    • Expansion of the elementary kitchen

    • Construction of outdoor accessible restrooms at Explorer Elementary

    • Updating HVAC systems throughout the district

    • Enhancing the safety and trafficability of the high school parking lots and student dropoff/pickup locations

    • Rebuild of the tennis court facility

    • Renovation of the softball facility

    • Installation of new flooring, student furniture, and lockers throughout the district

    • Acquiring new band instruments

    • Replacing the district phone system

    • Updating select maintenance equipment 

    Proposal #2: District Operating Millage

    Most residents are not subject to paying the operating millage. Your primary residence is exempt. However, those who own businesses or own vacation or second or third homes in Williamston are subject to the operating millage for those properties. 

    Williamston residents will vote on an adjustment to the Operating Millage. This is where the vast majority of the school district's funding comes from and is levied at 18 mills, to get the full level of funding as determined by the state. Over time, due to an increase in property values, state law requires an automatic reduction in the millage rate, meaning the district's funding is reduced. This proposal will allow the district to levy up to 18 mills to be fully funded. By law, the district WILL NOT be able to levy more than 18 mills. The estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2024 is approximately $23,000.

    A webpage has been created to provide accurate information regarding the two ballot proposals. You can access the page here or by selecting the construction helmet icon on the top of the district homepage. 

    The bond and operating millage proposal webpage will continue to be updated over the next few months. Please continue to check the page for additional information or contact me with any questions. I can be reached at (517) 655-4361 or via email at spinaa@gowcs.net.

     

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  • Educator Appreciation

    Posted by Adam Spina on 5/2/2024 11:00:00 AM

    District Podcast Special Edition

     

    This edition features Williamston Middle School Counselor Sophia Mackoul. Listen to it here or use the following links:

     

    Educator Appreciation: 

    Monday, May 6th - Friday, May 10th is Educator Appreciation Week. While recognizing our educators throughout the year is always welcome and encouraged, next week is a helpful reminder to consider saying thank you. The expertise and dedication of our WCS staff is one of the many reasons the Williamston Community is such a special place. Award-winning schools, co-curricular programming, and athletic fields only happen with great people. I invite you to celebrate the WCS team by sending a letter, email, or card to a staff member who has made a positive difference for your child. Just a few words can mean a lot, especially during this demanding period of the school year. Thank you as always for your invaluable support of our educators and students. 

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    2024 - 2025 School of Choice Application Window:

    The School of Choice application window for the 2024-2025 school year is May 23rd - June 21st. Seats are limited. We strongly recommend current non-resident students apply during the School of Choice (SOC) application period. Your applications will help ensure non-resident status students remain enrolled at WCS next school year. Current SOC families do not need to reapply.

    WCS SOC Flyer 2024-2025

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  • Dual Purpose Working Dog Update

    Posted by Adam Spina on 4/18/2024 7:11:00 AM

    District Podcast Special Edition

     

    This edition features WCS Speech Pathologist Bailee Lawrence. Listen to it here or use the following links:

     

    Dual Purpose Working Dog Update:

    WCS has partnered with Zebra K9 (and before, Elite Detection K9) to provide a dual-purpose working dog for our District. Gemini and her handler Mrs. Even, continue to have a significant positive impact on our schools.

    Gemini assists with announcing indoor recess at Williamston Middle School:

    Gemini helps at WMS

    Gemini actively patrols the district every day, starting before students arrive. Her flexibility and responsiveness enhance deterrence and foster a greater sense of security. So far this semester, she has conducted over 3,000 firearm and explosives patrols and hundreds of individual backpack and vehicle sweeps. Data from our June 2023 community survey indicated that 89% of students, staff, and parents felt schools were safer with the addition of the detection team.

    Gemini providing a recycling reminder:

    Gemini provides a recycling reminder

    Furthermore, Gemini has formed unique connections with our staff and students. She has supported the District’s overall mental health and social-emotional learning goals. In just the past three months, Gemini tallied over 1,500 interactions with students needing social-emotional support in addition to providing many student escorts. Her involvement with this initiative is noticed and deeply appreciated. As most are aware, Gemini and Mrs. Even were selected by WHS students to be the Grand Marshals of this year’s Homecoming Parade. 

    Gemini at Homecoming, 2023

    Gemini is making a meaningful difference in our schools. Learn more via the links below:

    Read the DBuisness Magazine Article here

    View the Fox 47 story on Gemini here

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    Students interact with Daisy, an additional social-emotional support dog who volunteers part-time at Williamston High School courtesy of Ms. Kim O’Brien:

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  • 2024-2025 Calendar and Upcoming Events

    Posted by Adam Spina on 4/5/2024 10:25:00 AM

    District Podcast Special Edition

    This edition features Explorer Elementary Educator Sonya Pake. Listen to it here or use the following links:

     

    2024-2025 Calendar and Upcoming Events:

    It was great having our students return this week after spring break. We are now officially in the stretch run of the school year. As is typical, the next couple of months will be full of special events and activities. Please be on the lookout for announcements in newsletters and school/district emails. The improved WCS Calendar Tool is another way to keep tabs on special events. 

    We are also busy planning for next school year. Student scheduling is underway, job postings have been published, and supplies are being ordered. If you have not reviewed it already, the 2024-2025 District Calendar is posted on the WCS website. The dates are also listed within the WCS Calendar Tool. 

    Looking forward to a fantastic spring. 

    Support the Williamston Schools Foundation by playing in the 41st Annual Golf Outing on May 4th. The winning student poster this year was created by WHS Senior, Alexis: 

    2024 WSF Golf Outing Poster

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  • WCS State Accountability Results

    Posted by Adam Spina on 3/14/2024 11:33:00 AM

    March/April District Podcast

    Listen to it here or use the following links:

    WCS State Accountability Results:

    All WCS schools participating in the state assessment program earned exceptional marks on the recently released scorecard index. The index evaluates schools on key performance measures such as academic proficiency and growth. School quality indicators and the graduation rate index for high schools are also considered. This year’s overall index score school summaries:

    We are extremely proud of our students and staff for their hard work and these excellent results. Our schools benefit from a supportive community that values all aspects of education. The school index scores are a collective Williamston celebration. Congratulations to all involved.

    School Resource Officer Francis assists in the cafeteria at Williamston Middle School:

    SRO Supporting Lunch at WMS, 2024

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  • The New Michigan School Meals Program

    Posted by Adam Spina on 3/1/2024 12:11:00 PM

    District Podcast Special Edition

     

    This edition features Explorer Elementary Educators Sarah Long and Libbey Merrell. Listen to it here or use the following links:

     

    The New Michigan School Meals Program:

    Ensuring all students have access to food is essential to their success in school. Williamston participates in the Michigan School Meals Program, a new state initiative that provides breakfast and lunch to all enrolled students at no cost to their families. WCS students are taking advantage of this new program for both meals. Average daily participation as well as data comparing the 2022-2023 school year are illustrated below:

    WCS Meal Count Comparison

    WCS Lunch Meal Count

    WCS Breakfast Meal Count

    WCS already meets the requirements of the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program but aspires to improve the quality of meals served. This is particularly true at the elementary campus, where the kitchen does not have adequate space or equipment to prepare fresh meals. The District is actively exploring expanding the elementary kitchen. More information will be forthcoming on this and other potential District enhancements in the near future. 

    WCS is extremely proud of our food service team. They continue to meet the increased demand for school meals this year. As you might recall, the food service department was named “Restaurant of the Year” by the Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce for their ongoing efforts to serve the children of our community.

     

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  • Williamston Visual Arts Programs

    Posted by Adam Spina on 2/15/2024 8:47:00 AM

    District Podcast Special Edition

     

    This edition features Discovery Elementary Educator Lisa Major. Listen to it here or use the following links:

     

    Williamston Visual Arts Programs:

    An important aspect of Williamston’s award-winning K-12 STEAM initiative is the “A,” which represents the Arts. Including the arts in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) enhances learning in those fields by emphasizing collaboration, problem-solving, effective communication, and creativity. The arts further diversify core content classes by integrating music, movement, design, and self-expression. 

    Ingham County Intermediate School District Art Showcase entry by Explorer Elementary student Sadie, entitled “Britto Heart”: