Superintendent's Blog

  • 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

    Comments (-1)
  • 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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Executive Assistant

Phone: (517) 655-4361

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mrs. Betsy Rueckert