Superintendent's Blog

  • 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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  • Educator Appreciation Week

    Posted by Adam Spina on 4/28/2022 7:35:00 AM

    District Podcast Special Edition Featuring WMS Science Educator Mr. Dan Keith. Listen to the District Podcast here. The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

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    Educator Appreciation Week: 

    For most educators, the 2021-2022 school year has been the most challenging of their professional careers. Much of this can be attributed to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. While WCS did well in mitigating the spread of Covid and keeping our buildings open, accomplishing that goal was extremely difficult. 

    Due to the dedication of our staff, the internal dynamics which kept the district running were not visible to most community members. The time and challenges of contact tracing and related communications, additional cleaning and sanitizing, developing support plans for absent students, and filling in for colleagues who had fallen ill took a toll on everyone. Our educators also faced the significant task of addressing lost learning and increased student mental health needs. Through it all, our team met those challenges with steady professionalism and a student-first mentality that students, parents, and community members can be proud of. 

    We sometimes take for granted the exceptionalism of our school district. We have become used to the outcomes our schools produce. This is not due to any one person or program, it is a culture of excellence supported by a community with the highest standards for its children. What we have in Williamston is special. 

    Please join me in recognizing the educators of WCS next week for their hard work and commitment. A note, or words of appreciation to your child's teacher, school secretary, bus driver, or custodian goes a long way, especially this time of year. Thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement as we strive to provide a world-class education to the children of Williamston.

    Covid Monitoring and Testing:

    We tracked an increase in school-associated Covid-19 cases this week. This resulted in the closing of one classroom and the suspension of some bus routes. Remember to monitor children for symptoms and only send them to school when they are healthy. Free Covid-19 testing is available every day the District is open at the Williamston Middle School gymnasium from 7:10 - 7:50 am. Additionally, take-home test kits are available upon request. Parents will be contacted if a student is exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms at school. If a student is picked up during the school day, the student can return to school with a doctor's note, or if symptom-free for 24-hours. Contact Mr. Bob Moyer for additional information at moyerr@gowcs.net.

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  • WHS Ranked #17 of 1,200+ Michigan High Schools for Best Graduation Rate

    Posted by Adam Spina on 4/14/2022 12:15:00 PM

    District Podcast Special Edition Featuring WHS Educator and Hall of Fame Track Coach, Mr. Mitch Lutzke:

    Listen to the District Podcast here. The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

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    WHS Ranked #17 of 1,200+ Michigan High Schools for Best Graduation Rate:

    I am pleased to relay that according to data compiled by MLive, Williamston High School ranked #17 out of over 1,200 high schools in Michigan for the highest graduation rates last year. Our graduation percentage of 97.97% is also the best of any high school in the mid-Michigan area. Graduation is always a collaborative endeavor. It is the result of hard work by our students and staff but does include the support of parents and community members. This achievement is another celebration for our community.  We recognize the high value placed on education and our collective dedication to serving the children of Williamston. 

    Final HVAC Upgrade Update:

    All proposed HVAC projects have now been formally approved by the Board of Education. To recap the work schedule to take place this summer/fall (assuming parts and contractor availability):

    • Middle School Boilers and Heating System Replacement - Funded by ESSER II
    • Explorer Elementary Gymnasium Heating and Cooling Installation - Funded by ESSER II
    • Middle School Chiller Replacement - Funding supported by the District Sinking Fund

    $45,000 has also been earmarked within the 2022-2023 District Sinking Fund budget for repairs to school parking lots and driveways. These repairs are also anticipated to be completed this summer.

    Flexible seating classroom in use at Williamston Middle School:

    Flexible Seating Classroom at WMS

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  • HVAC & 1:1 Chromebook Initiative Updates

    Posted by Adam Spina on 4/7/2022 5:01:00 PM

    April District Podcast:

    Listen to the District Podcast here. The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

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    Secondary 1:1 Chromebook Initiative Update:

    The Board of Education approved the plan to provide all secondary students with a district Chromebook and carrying case beginning Fall of 2022. The start-up costs for the initiative are covered by a combination of ESSER III funds and the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), a separate grant the District received earlier this year. The technology department will be placing orders for the devices later this month. Assuming product availability, Chromebooks will be programmed and inventoried this summer. We anticipate device distribution to occur at the outset of the 2022-2023 school year. Additional details will be communicated over the summer. 

     

    HVAC Upgrades Update:

    The Board of Education approved the replacement of the Middle School heating system and the installation of a new heating and cooling system for the Explorer Elementary gymnasium. As previously noted, the cost for these improvements will be covered by the District’s ESSER II allocation. Additionally, the Board is considering the replacement of the Middle School chiller. The proposed project will be primarily funded by the District Sinking Fund. 

    Review projected ESSER allocations (continuously updated as more information becomes available) here.


    Review the updated District Sinking Fund budget here.

    The Williamston Middle School Quiz Bowl team took 3rd place overall at the Michigan Middle School State Quiz Bowl Championship, held at Detroit Catholic High School. The team will compete in the National Championship Tournament in Chicago next month:

    Middle School Quiz Bowl, 2022

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  • State Champions

    Posted by Adam Spina on 3/30/2022 1:15:00 PM

    We might not all be basketball enthusiasts, but we are all supporters of the Williamston Community. The accolades of our boys basketball program, particularly this year’s state championship team, have been well documented. However, their incredible accomplishment last weekend (in a great basketball game) was much more meaningful than just an athletic victory. It was the culmination of dozens of stories, some well known and some not. Stories of loss and perseverance, overcoming adversity and tragedy, the power of relationships, and what being part of a strong and united community looks like.

    Last weekend was one of the most joyful moments of my tenure in Williamston for so many reasons. Our local businesses updating their marques with messages of encouragement, Williamston flags put on display throughout the downtown, people lining up along Grand River after 10:30 pm on a freezing Saturday night to cheer the team bus back into town… too many examples to mention. After two years of unprecedented challenges for our schools, watching our community rally around our students and celebrate together was truly inspiring. I am immensely appreciative of all involved in this achievement, but I am even more proud of what it represents. It was a reminder of what makes Williamston unique, and why we all care so much about this special place we call home.

    Congratulations to all. Go Hornets!

    State Champions, 2022

    Photo courtesy of the Lansing State Journal

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  • Pre-Spring Break District Updates

    Posted by Adam Spina on 3/17/2022 1:37:00 PM

    This was a busy week across the District. Events included parent/teacher conferences, the beginning of spring sports, hosting basketball regionals and quarterfinal games, and a very successful kindergarten orientation. WCS has resumed its pre-Covid trend as the most rapidly growing school district in the area. 

    The week leading up to spring break will also be full of District events. Highlights over the next several days include:

    • Williamston High School Musical - Singin’ in the Rain
      • Friday, March 18 at 7:00 pm at McGoff Performing Arts Center
      • Saturday, March 19 at 7:00 pm
      • Sunday, March 20 at 2:00 pm
    • Williamston First Robotics Competition, Lansing District Event
      • Friday, March 25 at Mason High School (see link above for the schedule)
      • Saturday, March 26

    Our district was the recipient of another national-level honor. The Larkin Nortman Memorial Football Field and Track Complex was named a 2021 Fields of Excellence Award winner by Pioneer Athletics. This recognition reflects the production and maintenance of "exceptional fields of play." Congratulations to WCS Lead Groundskeeper Ryan VanSickler and the entire WCS Maintenance Team for this superb accomplishment. Thank you to our community, whose support of the District Recreational Millage allows for these first-class facilities.

    2021 Fields of Excellence Award Winner

    An additional accomplishment, the Williamston Middle School Quiz Bowl Team has qualified for the Middle School National Championship Tournament in Chicago. Support the team by purchasing a first aid kit as part of their annual fundraiser. Contact coach Jonny Ellis at ellisj@gowcs.net for more information. 

    A quick update on Covid-19 protocols. Last week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) rescinded its Epidemic Order. The Ingham County Health Department also withdrew its unique requirements for schools and is now deferring to MDHHS guidelines. Those protocols can be reviewed at the link here. Questions pertaining to Covid-19 related issues can be directed to Bob Moyer, our School Health Liaison, at moyerr@gowcs.net.

    Lastly, Ms. Deborah Wolf was appointed to the WCS Board of Education. Ms. Wolf will fill the seat of former trustee Mr. Jeffrey West. Thank you to Mr. West for his nine years of service on the Board and his ongoing involvement and support of our District and community.

    I look forward to seeing Williamston out supporting our students next week. Wishing you and your family a safe and restful spring break beginning Friday, March 25, 2022. Go Hornets!

    Williamston High School hosted the Boys Basketball Regionals and Girls Basketball Quarterfinals, a testament to the outstanding facilities provided in part by the District’s Recreation Millage. The Williamston Boys basketball team will play in the state quarterfinals on Tuesday, March 22, 2022:

    2022 Boys Basketball Tournament

    Singin' in the Rain Flyer

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  • ESSER Funding Update

    Posted by Adam Spina on 3/9/2022 10:35:00 AM

    We have made considerable progress on the application and bidding processes for utilizing the District’s allocation of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds. While the majority of ESSER III funding is not available for application, WCS has received correspondence from the Michigan Department of Education that a portion of those funds has been approved. At this week’s meeting, the Board of Education reviewed proposals for two significant initiatives made possible by ESSER funding. Both concepts received strong community support in a November 2021 survey regarding the utilization of ESSER funding.

    The first item, funded with the balance of ESSER II funds, involves replacing the heating system at Williamston Middle School. This project includes installing four new heating boilers and pumps, twelve supply and return fan motors, and automation controls. This year, the school has been running without one boiler, making this project a top priority. In addition to the middle school, ESSER II funds will be used to install air conditioning and a new heating unit in the Explorer Elementary gymnasium. The cost for both projects is $645,692 not including engineering, automation, and management fees. 

    The second proposal, starting the fall of 2022, is implementing a 1:1 Chromebook Initiative for 6th-12th grades. The startup costs for the project will be funded through ESSER III allocations and the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), a separate grant WCS received earlier this year. The ECF grant has already been used to distribute hotspots and free WIFI service to many families in the District. The 1:1 Initiative will provide all secondary students with a Chromebook, allowing them to access web-based resources and lessons from both school and home. Additionally, each Chromebook will have a carrying case that attaches to the device for protection during use or transport. 

    The 1:1 Initiative allows WCS educators to build upon many years of Blended Learning professional development while also maintaining effective instructional strategies learned over the past two years. The estimated cost of the initiative is $1,336,794 over ten years. This is an increase of $876,716 over that same period compared to what it would cost to maintain the District’s current supply of Chromebooks. The cost difference includes hiring an additional technician to assist with device accountability and maintenance. Further details on the initiative can be found here.

    Additional information on these and other initiatives supported via ESSER funds will be communicated as they become available.

    Evening of Jazz, 2022

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  • Post Emergency Orders Covid-19 Transition

    Posted by Adam Spina on 2/25/2022 3:15:00 PM

    I would like to compliment our students on their excellent transition during our first week of school without emergency orders. While I know there was some apprehension regarding choices for mask-wearing, it is clear that conversations occurred at home about respecting the decisions of other individuals. I am grateful to our parents for being so proactive when addressing this sensitive issue. 

    A reminder that students should continue to be evaluated daily by parents before they leave for school. Symptoms outside of existing/known medical conditions to look for include:

    • Temperature of 100.4 and above or signs of a fever (chills/sweating)
    • Sore Throat
    • New uncontrolled Cough
    • Diarrhea, Vomiting, or Abdominal Pain
    • New onset of severe headache, especially with fever
    • Loss of Taste or Loss of Smell

    Parents will be contacted if a student is exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms at school. If a student is picked up during the school day, the student can return to school with a doctor's note, or if symptom-free for 24-hours.

    During this new phase, we continue to dialogue with the Ingham County Health Department (ICHD) to gain clarification and refine protocols regarding Covid-19 processes. An example is the Test to Stay program which has been reinstituted by the ICHD. Test to Stay, for applicable students and staff, will be available at the Williamston Middle School gymnasium from 7:15 - 7:55 a.m. on days the District is open. Test to Stay has been instrumental in keeping healthy students in school. We are pleased this tool has been reinstated. We encourage all students identified as a close contact to take advantage of the Test to Stay program to reduce the chances of Covid-19 transmission at school. 

    We are also working with ICHD to revise systems for contact tracing and parent communication regarding isolation and quarantine requirements. As those systems become more refined, the District will be able to better focus on educational initiatives and to provide ICHD with the information they need to keep healthy students in school.

    2022 Kindergarten Orientation

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Executive Assistant

Phone: (517) 655-4361

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mrs. Betsy Rueckert