Superintendent's Blog

  • Thanksgiving

    Posted by Adam Spina on 11/20/2018 11:20:00 AM

    WKAR published an article over the weekend that is an excellent reflection of the support our community provides WCS. Of course, this community support is much more diverse than just athletics. Our PTSA and schools foundation provide opportunities for innovative programming, our service organizations and business community invest in our classrooms, our visual and performing arts organizations benefit greatly from the generosity of donors and volunteers, parent/teacher conferences at our elementary buildings near 100% participation annually. These and many other examples make it possible for us to provide more opportunities for students than our size and state funding would suggest possible. It is truly a team effort.

    I am thankful for the opportunity to represent our schools and community in this capacity. On behalf of everyone here at WCS, thank you, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    WHS Football Team Traveling to the State Semi-Final Game:

    Football Team on way to semi-final game

    Rotary Youth Leadership Awards:

    Juniors Katie and Nicole with WHS principal Dr. Steven Delp. The students were selected to attend the Rotary leadership program last summer and returned to the organization to discuss what they learned in the program. Congratulations Katie and Nicole!

    RYLA

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  • November District Podcast and Awards Banquet

    Posted by Adam Spina on 11/14/2018 2:35:00 PM

    Listen to the November District Podcast here.

    The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

    _______________________________________________

    Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet:

    An outstanding group of people representing many facets of our community were recognized for their leadership and service at the sold out awards banquet. Two members of the WCS team were recognized for their significant contributions, photographs courtesy of the Studio Shop.

    Educator of the Year, Ms. Nancy Misailedes. Award presented by Ms. Kelly Campbell, Principal of Explorer Elementary

    Nancy Misailedes

    Public Servant of the Year, Mr. Ryan VanSickler. Award presented by Mr. Taylor Omer of the Williamston Chamber Board

    Ryan VanSickler

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  • Snow Days 2018-2019

    Posted by Adam Spina on 11/8/2018 3:05:00 PM

    As the winter months move in, it is likely sometime in the foreseeable future that road or weather conditions will deteriorate to the point where a decision will need to be made on canceling school. The safety of students, parents, and staff is the foremost consideration when evaluating whether a day of school should be canceled. There are several variables that factor into making a final decision. These include the following:

    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 all other Ingham County Districts. We have an “app for that!”

    School will be canceled automatically if there is a temperature (with or without windchill) of 20 degrees or more below zero.

    Note that each local district in the area makes an independent decision on whether to cancel school. Road conditions in Williamston (to include 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 he or she is safe.

    There is a change this year regarding snow days for our students attending the Wilson Talent Center. In the event the Mason Public Schools have canceled school due to road/weather conditions, the Ingham Intermediate Schools will also be closed. Consequently, the Wilson Talent Center will not be open. If Williamston is open on a day Mason schools are closed, students who attend class at the Wilson Talent Center will have space made available for them to study throughout the full school day at Williamston High School, but 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 will be broadcast through a variety of means. These include local media outlets, our website, and School Messenger. Remember, you can subscribe to both School Messenger and the RSS feed on the announcements part of the district website to receive an automatic notification to your phone, email, and/or news feed. Our goal is to make a decision to cancel no later than 6:00 am.

    I hope this provides some perspective on how snow days are determined. Please contact me should you have any questions about our decision-making process or notification mechanisms.

    Comments (-1)
  • District Safety Update

    Posted by Adam Spina on 11/2/2018 7:25:00 AM

    I am pleased to announce several significant positive developments regarding our district safety goal.

    The Michigan State Police (MSP) announced on October 31 that WCS will receive a $110,222 grant via the MSP Competitive School Safety Grant Program. Successfully receiving funding from this highly competitive grant program was the result of months of careful planning, assessment, and collaboration. The MSP grant will allow WCS to accelerate the implementation of security enhancements throughout the district.

    All district schools were awarded MI Heart Safe School status in October after an extensive implementation and application process. MI Heart Safe Schools are required to have properly located AEDs, a detailed cardiac emergency response plan as well as validated cardiac response teams. All schools at WCS will soon be displaying banners indicating they have earned this designation. The MI Heart Safe School initiative was lead by Mr. Michael Freeman and Ms. Ash Wilkie.

    WCS has finalized a partnership with McLaren Hospital to implement the “Stop the Bleed” program throughout all its schools. Stop the Bleed is a Department of Defense initiative that promotes training to stop life-threatening bleeding following everyday emergencies and manmade and natural disasters. In conjunction with NIESA, staff at all buildings will receive this training during the course of this school year. Additionally, the District will receive numerous triage kits that will be located in strategic areas in all of our schools.

    To read the district safety goals, visit our website or click here. I look forward to providing additional updates on these and other safety initiatives throughout this school year.

    Comments (-1)
  • Facility Use Update

    Posted by Adam Spina on 10/24/2018 7:10:00 AM

    In accordance with Board Policy #9250-R, Use of District Facilities, we have improved our building use system and management tools including the creation of a single point of contact for all facility requests. Ms. Janelle Marvin is our new Facilities Use Coordinator. Ms. Marvin’s office is in the Community Fitness Center/Pool area. She may be contacted at 517-655-2142 x7740 or via email at marvinja@gowcs.net. We are confident these improvements will cause less confusion and be easier for everyone.

    Additionally, reservation requests are now made online. The online request form provides a quick and easy way to request a location. The system also allows for a confirmation email to be generated, which documents the request and any associated costs, if applicable. The online form and additional information is available on the Enrichment, Fitness Center, and Pool website.

    Finally, I’ve had a number of questions over the last couple of months about which groups fall into Category 1. I believe the most recent revision to the policy clarifies these questions. To summarize, Category 1 organizations are exempt from fees associated with facility requests in most instances. Category 1 organizations include any K-12 district sponsored academic or co-curricular class or activity. It also applies to registered school support groups such as boosters, PTSA, or WSF. Finally, Williamston based youth athletic programs are included in Category 1, with some exceptions. Please reference the policy or contact the Enrichment office for more details.

    New Facility Enhancements:

    In keeping with Board Policy #9260, Access to Gender Segregated Facilities and Activities, and parent requests, work was completed this week on a single user, ADA compliant shower room at the Community Pool.

    Community Pool Shower Room

    Williamston High School finished updates to its conference room. The office and select classrooms in the building are also being repainted.

    WHS Conference Room

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  • Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce Community Award Winners

    Posted by Adam Spina on 10/19/2018 7:25:00 AM

    It is my privilege to announce that two Williamston Community School members have been selected as 2018 Community Award Recipients by the Williamston Area Chamber.

    Ms. Nancy Misailedes, Secretary of Explorer Elementary, was unanimously selected as the 2018 Educator of the Year. Ms. Misailedes was nominated by three different community members for her “incredible gift for working with children,” her “never-ending capacity for love and forgiveness,” as well as her incredible work in expertly managing the myriad of complex issues presented on a daily basis in the office of an elementary school. Ms. Misailedes has been secretary of Explorer Elementary for the past 21 years and is someone I have had the honor of working closely with and learning from. She is exceptionally deserving of this recognition.

    Mr. Ryan VanSickler of the WCS Maintenance Team was awarded the Williamston Public Servant of the Year Award. Mr. VanSickler was cited as the “epitome of hometown pride” and lauded for his integrity and dedication to the community and his family. Mr. VanSickler is a graduate of the Williamston Community Schools and has served with the district in a variety of capacities for the past 12 years including game manager, custodian, and now as a member of the district maintenance team. His meticulous care of the district grounds is visible to people throughout the community on a daily basis and especially on Friday nights by literally thousands of high school football fans at Larkin-Nortman Memorial Field.

    Community members are invited to attend the Chamber Awards Banquet at 7:00 pm on Thursday, November 8, 2018. Information on Tickets can be found here. I hope to see you there as we honor these two outstanding members of the Williamston Community Schools and numerous other representatives of our community.

    Chamber Awards Banquet Information

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  • October District Podcast

    Posted by Adam Spina on 10/9/2018 7:55:00 AM

    Listen to the October District Podcast here.

    Note the Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

    Comments (-1)
  • Finance and Enrollment Update

    Posted by Adam Spina on 10/9/2018 7:15:00 AM

    I’ve recently had some questions posed about district finances, specifically district debts. School finance is very complicated and trying to effectively summarize some of these concepts into a readable post has been challenging. I’m hopeful at a minimum to provide some context.  As I’ve communicated previously, WCS has been “held as the high watermark” by the State of Michigan for how it has managed its finances and is no longer listed as financially distressed. Note the numbers I am using below are as of July 31, 2017. These will be updated soon when the results of our 2017-2018 school year financial audit are completed.

    State Unfunded Pension Liability: The State of Michigan has reassigned unfunded pension liability to local districts, essentially moving the liability from their books to those of school districts across the state. This is not something we can do anything about as decisions regarding the allocation of resources to the state retirement system are dictated in the annual state budget. WCS holds approximately 28 million dollars of this liability on its records. This liability, combined with a trend of decreasing enrollment and a fund balance that was in the lowest 2% of districts in Michigan are the reasons why our bond rating was downgraded by Moody’s two years ago. These trends have very much turned around. Our enrollment is now significantly increasing (see graph at the bottom of the post) and our fund balance is projected to exceed 5% (see Board Goals here) by the end of this school year. These positive results are likely to improve our bond rating when future audits are completed.

    WCS Fund Balance  

    1995 District Bond: The community approved a 27.5 million dollar bond in 1995, with the corresponding funds being spent in 1996-1998. Among other things, the bond was used to build Discovery Elementary School, build the community pool, and renovate and expand the other three school buildings, transportation garage, and athletic facilities. Financed over 30 years, there is approximately 9 million left to be paid off on this bond. The remainder of this bond will be paid in May of 2025. This community-approved bond is one of the reasons the District has debt on its books.

    2004 District Bond: The community approved a 24.5 million dollar bond in 2004, with the corresponding funds being spent in 2005. Among other things, this bond was used to build the performance gym, weight room, walking track, and math/science pods/wing at Williamston High School. It was also used to construct the entrance and office of Explorer Elementary, upgrade instructional technology, various infrastructure projects, playground equipment, and athletic facilities across the district. Six school buses were also purchased as well as paying off the loans on the district properties on Sherwood and Rowley Roads. This bond debt was refinanced in 2015 and is scheduled to be paid off in 2030. There are approximately 13 million dollars remaining of this bond debt. This community-approved bond is another reason the District shows debt on its books.

    Two important notes on bonds. When a community supports a bond issue, a school district receives all the funds upfront. The community, via the district, then pays off the bond debt, usually over 30 years. For example, two Ingham County school districts recently passed bonds for 69.7 million and 93.7 million respectively. The districts will receive that money upfront to use for improvements but will incur that debt (plus interest) on their books. Secondly, it is common for the initial debt payments on a bond to exceed the funds collected via the local debt levy. It is common for districts to borrow money from the School Bond Loan Fund to cover the difference. WCS borrowed from the School Bond Loan Fund and then took out a loan on favorable terms to pay off the balance of what was borrowed. That 18.5 million dollar loan will be paid off in 2020. That is the final primary reason the District shows debt on its books.

    Lastly, our preliminary fall enrollment numbers are significantly above projections.  Once final figures are tabulated, we anticipate a total enrollment of above 1890 students. The graph below provides some recent context regarding student enrollment at WCS.

    District Enrollment Trends

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  • Homecoming and Williamston History Day

    Posted by Adam Spina on 10/2/2018 6:10:00 PM

    Always one of the best weeks of the year! I look forward to celebrating our district with the community throughout the week, to include the Homecoming Parade downtown this Friday at 6:00 pm and the Homecoming Game at 7:00 pm. I appreciate the leadership of our student government and the dedication of our faculty advisors and parent volunteers for planning and preparing the many events that are part of the Homecoming tradition at WCS.

    Float Building at WHS:

    Float Building

    In addition to Homecoming, this Sunday is Williamston History Day. Tours of historic sites in the community will take place between 1:00 and 5:00 pm on Sunday, October 7. WHS Teacher and Historian Mr. Mitch Lutzke will be leading part of the event. WHS social studies students are encouraged to attend for extra credit :) Find out more by visiting the Williamston Depot Museum website or clicking here.

    More recent photos from around the district:

    Completed Band Trailer:

    Completed Band Trailer

    Installed Transportation Department Sign with Improved Landscaping:

    Transportation Department Sign

    Math and Science Academy STEM Grant Presentation:

    MSA Grant Presentation

    WACC Educator of the Year Nominations:

    A reminder to nominate a deserving candidate for the WACC Educator of the Year. Nominations for that recognition and any other community awards can be emailed to me at spinaa@gowcs.net. Nominations must be completed by October 12, 2018. The universal nomination form can be downloaded here in Word format.

    Happy Homecoming!

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  • Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year Nominations

    Posted by Adam Spina on 9/27/2018 4:15:00 PM

    The Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce is accepting nominations for its Second Annual Community Awards. The awards provide an outstanding opportunity to publicly recognize individuals and organizations making a positive difference in our community. The full list of awards for which community members may be nominated is specified in the following flyer:

    Awards Nomination Flyer

    Of particular interest to our school community is the Educator of the Year Award. Last year, Ms. Linda Ereg was selected for this distinction. The criteria for Educator of the Year are listed below:

    • Works in the field of education (teacher, administrator, or support staff) in the Williamston, Webberville, or Dansville Communities
    • Contributes to co-curricular activities and/or student-oriented events outside of the school day
    • Collaborates with others to enhance district programming, instruction, facilities, transportation, or other essential services or learning opportunities
    • Serves on school or district level leadership teams or advisory committees
    • Maintains visibility in the community and is an advocate for their district, school, and the profession of education

    Nominations for all awards, to include Educator of the Year, can be emailed to me at spinaa@gowcs.net. Nominations must be completed by October 12, 2018.

    The Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce Board will select and announce the recipients of each award in mid-October. The 2nd Annual Community Awards Banquet will be held on Thursday, November 8th at 7:00 pm at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles in Williamston. Find out more about the Awards Banquet here.

    The universal nomination form can be downloaded in Word, here.

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Executive Assistant

Mrs. Janet Eidt

Phone: (517) 655-4361

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mrs. Janet Eidt