Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September Greetings!

Our 2017-2018 school year has gotten off to a very smooth start.  Students, families, and staff worked together to bring about a nice transition from summer break to the start of a new school year.  The opportunities and possibilities for success are endless in the months ahead.

As anticipated by our enrollment projections, the district has experienced an increase of approximately 56 students, placing our current district enrollment at 3,047.  Most of this increase is in our lower elementary grades (K-3), plus we’ve seen an increase in pre-school numbers, which would naturally translate in to continued growth in the foreseeable future.  We welcome many new families to our wonderful school district this fall, including 10 foreign exchange students. 

We also welcome 11 new teachers and several other staff (including several WUHS alumni!) to join our fine faculty this year as they dedicate themselves to teaching and nurturing your children.  Four of these new teachers have been added due to continued student enrollment growth and to maintain smaller class sizes.

Many school and athletic events have just begun as we gear up for a new school year.  These school events and activities may be seen on district website at www.waylandunion.org, the district or individual schools’ Facebook pages, or the Athletic website at www.waylandunionwildcats.com

Strategic Plan Update:  Our Strategic Plan Goals & Objectives are moving forward in the areas of Student Achievement, Finance, Facilities/Learning Environments, and Communication/Community Engagement.  This year we begin Year 3 of our Five Year Strategic Plan process and we are running ahead of schedule in most categories of the Plan.

Academically, all 6 of our schools achieved Highly Effective status this past school year, which is fantastic!  We just received our M-STEP state assessment results and will be analyzing these in the days ahead to adjust our instructional strategies and intervention programs.  NWEA and DIBELS assessments will also take place this month to provide us with data to determine instructional strategies and interventions to provide success for our students’ academic growth.

Financially, we had a larger than anticipated surplus this past fiscal year.  We recently paid off the loan two years early (!) on the iPads we purchased several years ago.  Our auditors have finished their annual audit of district funds and will report to the Board at the October 16 Board of Education meeting to be held at Steeby Elementary School at 7:00 PM.  We remain fiscally responsible and conservative, and continue building up our fund balance in accordance with the Strategic Plan goals as the state’s economic forecast in the coming years may not be as positive as recent years.

Facilities/Bond Proposal - We still have many facilities needs and will be putting a single bond proposal on the November 7, 2017 ballot that will result in a Zero millage increase to homeowners.  This $19.25 million proposal, reduced in scope to one third (1/3) of the proposals you voted on last May, would address Security, Safety, Technology and Infrastructure needs at all schools; additional classroom space (to address our need for more classrooms due to significant enrollment growth – we have 56 additional students at this time!) with a new wing of twelve classrooms and two large group instructional rooms, secure entrance, and renovations at the Middle School; and 12 new tennis courts to replace the 8 unusable courts near the soccer field.  

We will be providing detailed information on our website and Facebook pages, plus there will be ample opportunities at school events and bond information nights for you to get information and have your questions answered.  Please don’t hesitate to review this information.  The Voter Registration deadline for this election is October 10 and we encourage all district residents to get registered to vote if you are not and vote in the November 7 election.  Voter Registration and Absentee Voter information are available at the Secretary of State’s Michigan Voter Information Center website at https://webapps.sos.state.mi.us/MVIC/.

Upcoming Bond Information Nights scheduled thus far are:
Monday, September 18, 7:00-8:00 PM at the Middle School Media Center
Wednesday, September 27, 7:00-8:00 PM at Pine St. Elementary Media Center

You are always welcome to contact Superintendent Norman Taylor at (269) 792-2181 (ext. 3010) or by email at taylorn@waylandunion.org with any bond or school questions.

This summer’s maintenance projects are drawing to a successful close, with many of these upgrades funded by our Public Improvement Fund from casino monies.  These include general maintenance, upkeep, power washing & painting; playground inspections and new fill at all elementary schools; a new fire panel at WUHS; new HVAC controls across the district; voluntary water testing (a results letter will soon be on the transparency page of our website); prepping all athletic facilities for the fall athletic seasons; moving several offices to accommodate our enrollment growth; and a new VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system to comply with enhanced 911 regulations (installation to be completed later this fall).  We also just took delivery of two new 77 passenger busses, including one with undercarriage storage compartments, which allow for music instruments or athletic equipment to be stored there and provide for increased safety for our students when traveling to events.  Our Fun-tastic Summer Meals program and summer school have been a huge success again this year with excellent participation of over 10,000 meals and snacks served!

Safety and Security:  As you may already know from this past spring’s news, the district received $99,000 as part of a MI State Police Safety grant.  Over the summer, these funds were used to purchase new wide-range two-way Motorola radios to enhance communications, especially in critical situations, installation of window safety film, and secure access entry systems at all school entrances.  These systems, inside the entrance vestibules at all schools except the Middle School (which is still outside on the brick pillar), provide both a visual video picture and audio to the office secretaries who can activate our new electronic door locks to allow parents and visitors access to the office and school.  Please remember to “push the button” and state your name and purpose when visiting any of our schools!

Our faculty, staff, and administration also received a half day of Critical Incident Management training on August 30 as part of our back to school Professional Development.  This training was led by our district’s Security Consultant, Thomas Mynsberge of CIM, and included practical tips on dealing with a variety of critical situations that might occur in our schools.  We concluded our morning with Active Shooter drill scenarios in cooperation with three area law enforcement agencies – MI State Police, Allegan County Sheriff’s Dept., and Wayland City Police.

The district will also be implementing updated safety and security procedures, protocols, and terminology to assist in keeping our students, staff, and visitors as safe as possible.  If there is an internal threat, we will continue to use the term “Lockdown” and exercise those protocols as we have done in the past. Schools in MI are mandated to hold at least 3 Lockdown drills per school year.  If there is a potential external threat (such as a bank robbery in the area or convicts on the loose), the schools will invoke “Secure Mode”, which is essentially keeping all students inside the school and generally going about our classes as usual, while monitoring the situation in the area.  Throughout the day, all school doors remain locked from the outside and all entry is monitored as described above through only the main entrance into the office.

Communications:  We continue to use a variety of means to communicate with our school district’s families and residents.  These include our website, Facebook, Peachjar announcements, Infinite Campus messages (email, text, and/or voice) to families signed up for those messages, the Green & White quarterly district newsletter, postcards or other specific mailings, media press releases, information from the respective schools, teachers, and teams, PTO and Board meetings, and even this Superintendent’s Blog.  We will also be meeting again soon with our Key Communicators Network of individuals who help us spread the word and provide us feedback in their respective circles – social, civic, business, and personal.

We anticipate you will continue your excellent participation with our students throughout this school year.  Please support and encourage them academically, athletically, and in their many displays of practical, performing, and fine arts.  We have an extremely dedicated, experienced, and caring staff instructing many inquisitive students with a variety of interests, skills, and talents.   These continually need to be guided and nurtured by the positive parental/adult role models and mentors in their lives – including you.  Remember to check out our website at www.waylandunion.org, including my periodic Superintendent’s Blog which may be viewed from the Administrative page of our website, plus school & district Facebook pages on a regular basis to stay current about all school events, athletics, student activities, and bond information.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this September edition of my Superintendent’s Blog.   Again this school year, I will continue with my twice weekly Community Office Hours.  These are scheduled on school days for Monday afternoons from 1:30-2:30 PM and Wednesday mornings from 7:30-9:30 AM for parents or community members to drop in and share any ideas, thoughts, or concerns with me in person.  (Please note that in September, my Wednesday morning times will only be 7:30-8:30 AM on 9-27, and I will be out of the office at a superintendents’ conference on 9-20-17, so no office hours that day).

Once again, Thank You so much for your continued support of educational excellence as we strive to enhance our Culture of Quality at Wayland Union Schools.  Please contact us with any thoughts, concerns, or suggestions you may have to make Wayland Union Schools the best schools possible as we work to Challenge – Inspire – Contribute.

Best Wishes for a pleasant fall and a very successful school year for all of our students, families, and staff!

Yours in Wildcat Pride,

Norman L. Taylor

Superintendent

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Summer Greetings & Welcome Back-to-School!
Our 2017-2018 school year will begin Tuesday, September 5 and we’re extremely excited about our many positive initiatives to promote student opportunities and success.  At Wayland Union Schools, we promote literacy, positive relationships, student success, and a broad assortment of fine arts / athletic / extra-curricular activities, plus enhanced academic and technology opportunities throughout the district with our K-12 1:1 iPad initiative.  

We welcome many new families to our wonderful school district this fall, including at least 10 foreign exchange students.  If you have any questions about enrollment, registration, or programs, please contact one of our schools or offices for more information (phone numbers and email addresses are on our website at www.waylandunion.org). We also welcome 11 new teachers and several other staff (including several WUHS alumni!) to join our fine faculty this year as they dedicate themselves to teaching and nurturing your children.  Four of these new teachers have been added due to continued student enrollment growth and to maintain smaller class sizes.

As a reminder to parents of returning students, if you have not gone online to the Parent Portal to register and update information on each of your students, please do so at your earliest convenience (MS and HS students must be registered before they can receive their iPad).

Many school and athletic events have just begun as we gear up for a new school year.  Here is a list of the main activities:

Wayland Union HS Orientation the week of August 21 – Students may get their iPads, make schedule changes, and register their cars to park in the student parking lot according to the following schedule each day from 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM:
Monday, August 21 – Seniors
Tuesday, August 22 – Juniors
Wednesday, August 22 – Sophomores
Thursday, August 24 – Freshmen (includes locker assignments)

Wayland Union Middle School Orientation from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM on Tuesday, August 22.  Students will receive their iPads, may get their pictures taken, and 7th graders will get vision tests.

Back to School Open Houses to visit classrooms & meet teachers
Tuesday, August 29:
Steeby Elementary 5:30-6:30 PM
Middle School 4:00-7:30 PM (Student get iPads, class schedules, and locker assignments)
High School 4:30-7:00 PM
Baker Elementary 5:00-6:00 PM

Wednesday, August 30:
Dorr Elementary 5:00-6:00 PM (Pre-school & K) and 6:00-7:00 PM (1st through 4th grades)
Pine St. Elementary 5:00-6:00 PM

Athletic Events may be seen on the Fall Sports pocket schedules or the Athletic website at www.waylandunionwildcats.com

Here’s an update on of some of our recent activities:  Our Strategic Plan Goals & Objectives are moving forward in the areas of Student Achievement, Finance, Facilities/Learning Environments, and Communication/Community Engagement.  Academically, all 6 of our schools achieved Highly Effective status this past school year, which is fantastic!  Financially, we had a larger than anticipated surplus again this past year and another surplus is anticipated at the end of this coming fiscal year.  We recently paid off the loan two years early (!) on the iPads we purchased several years ago.  

We still have many facilities needs and will be putting a bond proposal on the November 7, 2017 ballot that will result in NO millage increase to our citizens.  This $19.25 million proposal, reduced in scope to one third (1/3) of the proposals you voted on last May, would address Security & Infrastructure needs; additional classroom space with a new wing, secure entrance, and renovations at the Middle School; and 12 new tennis courts to replace the 8 unusable courts near the soccer field.  We will be providing detailed information on our website and Facebook pages, plus there will be ample opportunities at school events and bond information nights for you to get information and have your questions answered.  

Bond Information Nights scheduled thus far are:
Thursday, September 7, 6:15-7:00 PM at Dorr Elementary (prior to Dorr PTO meeting)
Monday, September 18, 7:00-8:00 PM at the Middle School Media Center
Wednesday, September 27, 7:00-8:00 PM at Pine St. Elementary Media Center

You are always welcome to contact Superintendent Norman Taylor at (269) 792-2181 (ext. 3010) or by email at taylorn@waylandunion.org with any bond or school questions.

This summer’s maintenance projects are drawing to a successful close, with many of these upgrades funded by our Public Improvement Fund from casino monies.  These include general maintenance, upkeep, & painting; a new fire panel at WUHS; new HVAC controls across the district; new wide-range two-way Motorola radios to enhance communications, installation of window safety film and secure access entry at all school entrances (all part of our MSP Safety grant); and a new VOIP phone system to comply with enhanced 911 regulations.  We also just took delivery of two new 77 passenger busses, including one with undercarriage storage compartments, which allow for music instruments or athletic equipment to be stored there and provide for increased safety for our students.  Our Fun-tastic Summer Meals program and summer school have been a huge success again this year with excellent participation.  Our last meals will be offered this Saturday, August 26 in the Wayland City Park as part of the Kiwanis Kids’ Day, which runs from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM and includes many fun activities.   

We anticipate you will continue your excellent participation with our students again this school year.  Please support and encourage them academically, athletically, and in their many displays of practical, performing, and fine arts.  We have an extremely dedicated, experienced, and caring staff instructing many inquisitive students with a variety of interests, skills, and talents.   These continually need to be guided and nurtured by the positive parental/adult role models and mentors in their lives – including you.  Remember to check out our website at www.waylandunion.org, including my periodic Superintendent’s Blog which may be viewed from the Administrative page of our website, plus school & district Facebook pages on a regular basis to stay current about all school events, athletics, student activities, and bond information.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this latest edition of my Superintendent’s Blog.   Once again, Thank You so much for your continued support of educational excellence as we strive to enhance our Culture of Quality at Wayland Union Schools.  Please contact us with any thoughts, concerns, or suggestions you may have to make Wayland Union Schools the best schools possible as we work to Challenge – Inspire – Contribute.
Best Wishes for a wonderful and very successful school year for all of our students, families, and staff!
Yours in Wildcat Pride,

Norman L. Taylor

Superintendent

Monday, November 28, 2016

Holiday Greetings!  

We trust you are transitioning well from Michigan’s beautiful fall season to our soon to be Winter Wonderland.  We’ve had a fine start to the school year thus far and our enrollment is up again this year by about 60 students! In fact, our recently completed Enrollment Projection by Plante Moran CRESA projects our school district will grow by another 264 students in the next five years!  More district information is highlighted through the many informative articles contained in the most recent edition of our Green & White district newsletter.  Our constant goals are to provide safe and nurturing learning environments, build positive relationships of mutual respect, provide our students with a variety of opportunities for growth as they learn and demonstrate new knowledge and skills, and enhance our Culture of Quality for everyone.

New Director of Finance & Operations
As most of you may know by now, Bill Melching, the district’s Director of Finance & Operations for the past 6 years, retired at the end of September.  We have hired Pat Velie, as our new Director of Finance & Operations.  Pat is a former WUS Business Office employee who spent the past 12 years in Massachusetts working for two other school districts out there.  We are pleased to have her back in our school district and she is already making valuable contributions to our district and Business Office!

Strategic Plan Update
Student Achievement remains our primary focus.  Recently released M-STEP results showed good growth for most of our students.  In 14 tested areas at various grade levels, our students were above the state average in 10 of fourteen content areas.  Our Juniors also did relatively well with the new SAT tests which replaced the ACT.  These assessments provide a more immediate feedback to teachers and principals that allow us to set appropriate interventions and enrichments to meet students’ needs.  We use this data to set both grade level and individual student growth targets for the coming school year.  Our focus remains on preparing and assisting all of our students to be College and Career ready upon graduation.  

Communications & Community Engagement is our second goal area.  We are working toward better communications, more community & business partnerships, and enhancing parent/guardian training and involvement – with more opportunities again this school year funded through Grants from the Wayland Union Education Foundation.  Thank you WUEF!  We continue to expand our use of social media and our district website (www.waylandunion.org), plus our Key Communicators Network of parents & citizens, to keep you informed in a relevant and timely manner.  We also are striving to answer the “why” in our communications. Our recent EPIC-MRA survey of 300 district residents regarding our potential bond issue also supplied us with valuable information about areas we can improve our communications – some of which are addressed in the current issue of the Green & White. Thank you to our Key Communicators and the fine two-way communications we’ve established during our first year!    

Finances is a third goal area. This past fiscal year of 2015-2016, we exceeded our goal of increasing the fund balance ½% to 1% (1% = about $280,000) with a budget surplus of over $970,000!  With this surplus, the Board voted to use $331,580 to pay off our loan to purchase 6 new busses two years early (saving the district over $5,000 in future interest costs), and the balance of $638,725 was added to our fund balance.  Our District goal is to reach a minimum 12% fund balance and we are currently just below 10%.  We also received the highest level of an unqualified audit this past summer by Plante Moran.  Our Board of Education and administration take our fiduciary responsibilities seriously to maintain a secure financial future for our school district.  All of this is in addition to the $6.6 million we saved district taxpayers this summer by refinancing bonds (see below)!

Facilities / Learning Environment is our fourth goal area.  As noted previously, we have expanded iPad use to all grades K-12 to successfully enhance student learning.  The district completed a professional Facilities Needs Assessment last fall by Tower Pinkster to maintain safe & healthy learning environments for our students, staff, and parents, plus provide information toward upgrading our schools.  Since last spring, we have held four Citizens’ Advisory Committee meetings and two Public Forums to discuss our facilities’ needs.  These meetings have been facilitated by representatives from our architects, Tower Pinkster, with cost estimates assistance from Triangle Associates, our construction managers.

The two primary reasons for looking at a facilities bond vote are:
1) to address essential and needed upgrades to district facilities as part of normal major maintenance projects over time, plus security & technology upgrades; and
2) to address our growing enrollment and space needs as the district is currently using all available classroom space and has no room for additional enrollment growth.

The Board of Education finalized the scope and proposals of our facilities needs at its Monday, November 14 Regular Meeting, for the various projects that would be included in an anticipated May 2, 2017 bond vote. These decisions are based on the input from our formal Facilities Needs Assessment last fall, concepts developed by our Citizens’ Advisory Committee this past summer and early fall, and the results of our EPIC-MRA survey.  

Here is what is included in each of the two proposals:

Proposal 1 would be approximately $33.6 M and includes:
  • Facility infrastructure needs - including health & safety upgrades; academic/instructional needs; mechanical, technology, and roof upgrades; and improvements to parking lots, drives, and drainage
  • Adding a new wing at WUMS to accommodate 6th grade
  • Constructing a new grades 4-5 upper elementary school to accommodate approximately 500 students

Proposal 2 would be approximately $20.8 M and include:
  • A new 10 lane swimming pool to replace our aging 40 year old current pool (anticipated to be built at WUHS adjacent to the Fitness Center and including locker rooms for public use)
  • Converting the current pool space for potentially a new Auto Body & Robotics classroom
  • Converting the current Auto Body space into a new Band/Orchestra classroom / rehearsal space (these music programs are growing as well)
  • Building 12 new tennis courts at the site of the current 8 courts by the soccer field along Wildcat Dr. (we would abandon the 6 current tennis courts by the football field and convert that space to needed additional parking)
  • Renovate the excessive crown and drainage at the football field and replace the grass with a new turf field (the Committee researched previous health concerns with turf fields and found that not to be a concern with current turf fields - they are safe)

We chose the grades 4-5 upper elementary school as a better solution to our needs for a variety of reasons:  a more concise curriculum, greater grade level teacher collaboration, focused intervention & enrichment programming, grouping upper elementary students together, the ability to better balance class sizes, and it would not require us to re-district our current boundaries, which we would need to do if we went with multiple K-5 schools.

We realize this is a lot of information and there is obviously more detail behind each of these needs and how these decisions came about.  The Facilities Needs Assessment report and information from all of our Public Forums and Citizens' Advisory Committee meetings is available on our district website at www.waylandunion.org (under the District tab, Facility Needs).  We are currently working on some FAQs, by topic, which we will definitely share with our staff, parents, and communities in the coming weeks, once we get official Treasury approval in January, 2017, on the scope and proposals.  We'll also be visiting with each school staff, holding more public informational meetings, placing the FAQs and bond information on our website, and meeting with various community and civic groups to explain our proposals and answer questions.  In the meantime, I would be more than happy to discuss any of these topics in more detail with anyone (realizing we still need Treasury approval).  Just contact me.

The District closed on the sale of the Moline School building and 5.6 acres of the property to a local business, and the remaining 3 acres with a softball field to Leighton Township on October 7.  This is a win-win situation for all involved.   Proceeds from the sales will be used to pay down part of the remaining bond debt on the Moline property.

More information on our specific Strategic Plan Goals & Objectives can be found on the district website at www.waylandunion.org.  

Bond Refunding
This summer, the district had a highly successful refunding of previously issued bonds (this is similar to the refinancing of one’s home mortgage).  Our financial advisors’ initial forecast of savings for our district’s taxpayers was approximately $4.6 million.  Due to favorable economic conditions, our improving fund balance, and a strong financial outlook with an A+ Standard & Poor’s rating for the district, our total refunding savings to our taxpayers was $6.6 million!  Generally, it is worth refunding bonds if a district can garner at least a 3% savings, however, our savings was approximately 11.7%.  This is a fantastic outcome and will result in a significant tax savings over the 12 year life of our refunded bonds.

Substitutes
We are always looking for good substitute teachers, aides, bus drivers, and food service help – occasionally on a long term basis.  In fact, we recently increased our substitute teacher pay to $80/day, with additional pay incentives for working 10 or 15 days per month, plus we now offer a free adult lunch to our substitutes!  Substitute information is available on our district website www.wayland.union.org (click on Departments at the top of the page, and then click Human Resources, and click on EDUStaff Substitute Positions towards the bottom of the page). Interested individuals may also contact EDUStaff or apply directly at www.EDUStaff.org or by calling 877-974-6338.   

Employee Contract Extensions
Also at our November 14 Board meeting, the Board approved a one year contract extension with our teachers for the 2017-2018 school year.  This included full step increases, a 1% increase on all steps, and remaining as an 80/20 district for employee health insurance premiums.

Superintendent Availability
I am available to meet with you at any time to discuss questions or thoughts.  I keep regular weekly office hours when I am available in my office if you wish to stop in and discuss a topic of interest.  Those weekly days and times are:  Monday afternoons from 1:30-2:30 PM and Wednesday mornings from 7:30-9:30 AM.

Thank you for taking the time to stay informed of our district events and activities by reading my Blogs, and reviewing our website or our social media sites.  This blog is part of my efforts to increase the ways we communicate with our parents, staff, and citizens.  


Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Spring Greetings!
We trust you are enjoying the onset of warmer weather and outdoor activities.  May is an extremely busy month in the school calendar with a variety of end of the year assessments to gauge the academic growth of our students, class field trips, school plays, music concerts, award & recognition events, spring athletic contests, and culminating with the graduation of the Class of 2016 on May 26 at 7:00 PM.
 
Strategic Plan Update
On Saturday, March 12, our Board of Education and Administrative Office hosted the first year update of our five year Strategic Plan with our Citizens’ Committee, facilitated by Rod Green, our MASB  consultant, as we continue to work together to move our district forward and upward in the four major goal areas: 
 
 
 Student Achievement remains our primary focus.  Currently, our students in grades 3-8 and 11th grade are taking the online M-STEP – MI-Student Test of Educational Progress that replaced the MEAP last year, plus the PSAT & SAT have replaced the Explore/ACT assessments for 8-11 grade students this spring.  Students will also take the third installment of the NWEA assessments that our teachers find very useful (and there is talk in Lansing that this assessment may eventually replace the M-STEP tests).  These assessments provide a more immediate feedback to teachers and principals that allow us to set appropriate interventions and enrichments to meet students’ needs, plus we can more effectively monitor student growth in these areas with fall, winter, and spring assessments.  Our focus remains on preparing and assisting all of our students to be College and Career ready upon graduation. 
 In May, our K-6 students begin the spring cycle of DIBELS.  DIBELS stands for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills and measures reading fluency, phonics, and comprehension.
 
 
Communications & Community Engagement is our second goal area.  We are working toward better communications, more community & business partnerships, and enhancing parent/guardian training and involvement – with some new opportunities this year funded through Administrator Grants from the Wayland Union Education Foundation.  Thank you WUEF!  We have expanded our use of our district website and social media, plus our Key Communicators Network of parents & citizens, to keep you informed more fully and sooner.  We also are striving to answer the “why” in our communications.  Thank you to our Key Communicators and the fine two-way communications we’ve established this year!    
 
 
Finances is a third goal area. This fiscal year, we are exceeding our goal of increasing the fund balance ½% to 1% with an anticipated budget surplus much larger than originally budgeted. Our District goal is to reach a minimum 12% fund balance.  We are currently approaching the 9% level with this year’s budget.  This is good as financial news out of Lansing for next year’s budget shows many pressures on state expenditures for roads, the Detroit Public Schools bailout, and the Flint water situation.  Our Board of Education and administration take our fiduciary responsibilities seriously to maintain a secure financial future for our district. 
We have appreciated the public input we recently received at our two public forums on annual casino fund spending – another Finance area goal that has been met.  Based on a review of all input, the Board will continue this next year with the same casino funding of items as the current year, which may be viewed on the district website at www.wayland.union.org.  These funded items will be reviewed annually and future consideration may be given to new ideas presented, such as allowing parents of student-athletes free admission when their children are participating in a particular sport or activity, increasing scholarship support to graduating seniors (currently $5,000 annually), and increasing the amounts from casino funds used to subsidize class field trips.
 
 
Facilities / Learning Environment is our fourth goal area.  As noted previously, we have expanded iPad use to all grades K-12 to successfully enhance student learning.  The district has completed a Facilities Needs Assessment to maintain safe & healthy learning environments for our students, staff, and parents, plus provide information toward upgrading our schools.  We have had a few preliminary meetings with our architects from Tower Pinkster and our construction management firm, Triangle, to discuss our needs.  We are currently in the process of gathering estimated pricing on a variety of options for the Board, staff, parents and citizens to consider. 
In conjunction with other goal areas, we will again be seeking community input in the weeks ahead to help guide our direction.  Our first public forum to provide an opportunity for parents & citizens to hear the initial results of the Facilities Needs Assessment from Tower Pinkster will be held on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 from 6:30-8:30 PM in the WUMS Cafeteria.  This will be the first of several public opportunities to hear about the Assessment, ask questions, and provide feedback.  We will also be looking to add individuals to our Facilities / Learning Environments Committee to assist our planning this summer and into the fall, when we will begin refining our facilities’ needs.  Please let me know if you might have an interest in serving on this Committee.
 The Board of Education has approved the sale of the Moline School building and 5.6 acres of the property to a local business, and the remaining 3 acres with a softball field to Leighton Township.  This is a win-win situation for all involved.  We anticipate closing on the properties by the end of June once the rezoning process is complete.  Proceeds from the sales will be used to pay down part of the remaining bond debt on the Moline property.
 In other news, we have installed a new backstop on the Varsity Baseball field due to some structural deficiencies of our old backstop.  We have once again had to close our pool temporarily as the boiler that helped provide warm water to the pool and some restrooms has failed and we are in the process of making upgrades.  We hope to be able to re-open the pool as soon as possible.  When we discuss our future facilities needs in the coming months, the age and condition of our pool will need to be a major topic of discussion as it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain due to its 40 year of service, along with the cost of frequent repairs and the inability at times to find replacement parts.
 More information on our specific Strategic Plan Goals & Objectives can be found on the district website at www.waylandunion.org. 
 
 
Bond Refunding
Recently, the district had a highly successful refunding of previously issued bonds (this is similar to the refinancing of one’s home mortgage).  Our financial advisors’ initial forecast of savings for our district’s taxpayers was approximately $4.6 million.  Due to favorable economic conditions, our improving fund balance, and a strong financial outlook with an A+ Standard & Poor’s rating for the district, our total refunding savings to our taxpayers was $6.278 million!  Generally, it is worth refunding bonds if a district can garner at least a 3% savings, however, our savings was approximately 11.7%.  This is a fantastic outcome and will result in a significant tax savings over the 12 year life of our refunded bonds.
 
 
Summer Meals Program
After a highly successful free summer meals program last summer, we have started planning our program for this summer’s meals events.  This federally funded program is open to all youth 18 years and younger, including preschoolers.  We will once again offer free lunches at Steeby Elementary in conjunction with our summer school, plus various sites throughout our school district.  Although not complete at this time, our other confirmed sites on various days include the United Church of Wayland (next to Steeby), Windsor Woods, and Sawmill Estates.  The program will run weekdays from Monday, June 13 through the end of August, including a free lunch during the Kiwanis Kids’ Day activities at the Wayland City Park on Saturday, August 27, 2016.  Again this year, through the continued generosity of our corporate & local sponsors, we will host a number of special events for our students.  Events include a Bounce Party, Flying Aces- a Pro Flying Disc Team, Audacious Hoops, a Comedy Magic Show, and a BMX Stunt Show.  More information on these free meals, including specific event locations, times, and our generous sponsors, will also be found on our website or the posters that will be displayed soon in multiple businesses.
 
 
Substitutes
We are always looking for good substitute teachers, aides, bus drivers, and food service help – occasionally on a long term basis.  Substitute information is available on our district website www.wayland.union.org (click on Departments at the top of the page, and then click Human Resources, and click on EDUStaff Substitute Positions towards the bottom of the page). Interested individuals may also contact EDUStaff or apply directly at www.EDUStaff.org or by calling 877-974-6338.  
 
 
Superintendent Availability
I am available to meet with you at any time to discuss questions or thoughts.  I keep regular weekly office hours when I am available in my office if you wish to stop in and discuss a topic of interest.  Those weekly days and times are:  Monday afternoons from 1:30-2:30 PM and Wednesday mornings from 7:30-9:30 AM.
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed of our district events and activities by reading my Blogs, and reviewing our website or our social media sites.  This blog is part of my efforts to increase the ways we communicate with our parents, staff, and citizens.