Thursday, October 18, 2018

October Greetings!
We’re already into the second month of the 2018-2019 school year, which has generally gotten off to a very good start.  Parent-Teacher conference are occurring this time of October and provide a good opportunity to improve the communication and bond between the school and home to promote success for our students.  Our opportunities and possibilities for success are endless in the months ahead.

One of the opportunities presented to us is to continue impressing upon our students the need to be more respectful and tolerant, especially with diversity and racial sensitivity.  Inappropriate words and behaviors have no place in our schools or in our society. Although we currently teach many positive character traits, life lessons, and expectations to all of our students in an age appropriate manner, we will be doing more in the weeks ahead (a comprehensive list of current programs was included in the letter I sent to staff and parents, and posted on our website, on September 28, 2018).  We are also working to bring other relevant speakers and messages to our students in the coming months.

During the week of October 8-12, the MI Attorney General’s Office once again presented their OK2SAY program to all of our students throughout the school district.  This age appropriate program has a strong respect and anti-bullying message, including cyberbullying, and encourages students that if they “See Something, Say Something”.   In other words, speak up if you see anyone bullying another individual or treating them in a disrespectful way – similar to the concept of bystander intervention. For our younger students, the program teaches about keeping yourself safe and safe Internet usage – don’t share personal information!

The program also encourages students to report any possible threats directed toward a school or an individual, including efforts to harm oneself, to an anonymous statewide tip line staffed by trained professionals 24/7.  These tips are then forwarded to the respective local school administration and area law enforcement for the appropriate intervention to prevent any harm and ensure safety for everyone. Our district also has a separate, internal Tip Line students may access as well.  Both OK2SAY and our Tip Line have links on our district website and app.

We are also working to bring speakers into our schools to address students and staff on respect, tolerance, diversity, and racial sensitivity.  Some of our students have limited exposure to a larger, diverse population and have not yet gained the experience and maturity to accept and appreciate different ethnic and racial cultures.  We live in, and our students will have careers in, a global economy. We must learn to work and act appropriately in a diverse society. We also ask that parents and our citizens partner with us to teach and model respect and tolerance toward all individuals.

As partially anticipated by our enrollment projections, the district has experienced an increase of approximately 22 students this fall, placing our current district enrollment at 3,060.  Most of this increase is in our elementary and middle school grades (K-8), plus we’ve seen an increase in preschool numbers, which would naturally translate into continued growth in the foreseeable future.  We welcome many new families to our wonderful school district this fall, including 14 foreign exchange students.

Many school and athletic events are in full swing.  These school events and activities may be seen on district website at www.waylandunion.org, the district or individual schools’ Facebook pages, or our athletic website at www.waylandathletics.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 4 of our Five-Year Strategic Plan process (2015-2020) and we are running ahead of schedule in most categories of the Plan (!). We will be holding a “refresher / update” Strategic Plan session with our four Committees sometime in November (date and time to be determined) which parents, staff, students, and community members are welcome to attend.  Please be on the lookout for further information in the near future as we finalize our plans.

Academically, all 6 of our schools continue to show improvement, with each school achieving above the state average.  Three of our schools achieved Effective status and 3 achieved Highly Effective status this past school year, which is very commendable.  In addition, our WUHS SAT composite test scores improved markedly this past year to also be above the state average.  We just received our M-STEP state assessment results and are above the state average in all assessed areas. NWEA assessments and the new state mandated Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) have been completed and will provide us with data to determine instructional strategies and interventions to sustain success for our students’ academic growth.

Financially, Wayland Union Schools finished the 2017-2018 fiscal year in good shape adding to the district’s fund balance per our Strategic Plan goals.  Our auditors have finished their annual audit of district funds and will report to the Board at the October 29 Board of Education Work Session to be held at the Administration Office at 6:00 PM that evening.  We remain fiscally responsible and conservative.

Facilities/Bond Projects – Thanks to the support of our communities with the passage of last November’s bond proposal, we have had a busy summer and fall working on numerous projects to upgrade and expand our facilities as a growing school district.  The projects include restroom renovations at our elementary schools, roof work at Baker and the High School (along with metal fascia replacement), 12 new tennis courts on the site of the former HS courts which are scheduled to be completed toward the end of this month and ready to use next spring, and an upgraded student parking lot with improved drainage.   

Our other major project that has begun and will proceed through next summer, is the addition of a new wing at the Middle School, which will allow us to move the 6th grade to WUMS, making it a grades 6-8 school beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.  This new wing project consists of twelve classrooms and two large group instructional rooms – a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) lab and a new Orchestra room.  Renovations will also include a secure entrance, new carpeting, a new boiler and chiller for the entire school to allow us to be Energy Star compliant (!), and kitchen/cooler upgrades.  The Pine St. School, which will become grades 4 & 5 (to allow for growth in our elementary grades at both Dorr and Steeby) will see its renovations begin next summer, along with a major upgrade to our WUHS Media Center, plus a continuation of roof work at the HS.

Communications – We continually strive to communicate to all of our families, communities, and staff in a timely and effective manner.  To that end, this fall we introduced a new app that is available for your mobile phone via the Apple or Google stores. This app mimics information on our district website and is more convenient for busy individuals on the go. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to download this free app.  Search for “Wayland Union Schools” on the Apple Store or Google Play. In addition to our district app and website, please remember to check for information via a variety of means we use to communicate with our school district’s families and residents. These include our website, app, 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 use 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.

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

Safety and Security:  As you may already know, the district has incorporated 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, again this past August, a half day of safety training as part of our back to school Professional Development.  Procedural items were discussed in conjunction with our newly revised Critical Incident Handbooks that have been distributed to all staff by our district Security Officer, Mr. Matt Miller.  Mr. Miller and I also attend periodic meetings of the Allegan County Safe Schools committee where updates and information are shared on topics of school safety and security measures. This group is composed of county administrators and area law enforcement officers, plus representatives from the court system and the County Prosecutor.  Our next meeting is October 25, 2018 in Allegan.

The district has implemented 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 and our district has completed several of these drills already this fall.  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.  Should there be an external environmental hazard to our schools, we will implement “Shelter in Place” with maintenance staff assigned to each school to assist with any air handling shut offs or other utilities needs that may be warranted.

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 app, 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 construction information.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this October edition of my Superintendent’s Blog.   Again this school year, I am continuing 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 (except Wed., Oct. 24 & 31 when I’m away at conferences) for parents or community members to drop in and share any ideas, thoughts, or concerns with me in person.  

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.  As always, “It’s a great day to be a Wildcat!”
Best Wishes for a pleasant fall, Halloween, and a very successful school year for all of our students, families, and staff!
Yours in Wildcat Pride,
Norman L. Taylor

Superintendent

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Fall 2018

Summer Greetings & Welcome Back-to-School!

We sincerely hope you are having a safe, fun, and fantastic summer!

Our 2018-2019 school year will begin on Tuesday, September 4 with a full day of school. We hope you are as excited as we are about our many positive initiatives to promote student opportunities and success this school year. At Wayland Union Schools, we promote literacy, positive relationships, student success, and a broad assortment of fine arts, athletics, and extra-curricular activities, plus enhanced technology opportunities throughout the district with our K-12 1:1 iPad initiative.

As always, we welcome many new families to our fantastic school district this fall, including ten foreign exchange students. If you have any questions about enrollment, registration, or programs, please contact one of our school offices for more information. Phone numbers and email addresses are on our website at www.waylandunion.org or you may wish to download our new district app, Wayland Union Schools, in the Apple or Google stores. We also welcome at least 10 new teachers, three new secretaries, plus other staff (including several WUHS alumni!) to join our Wildcat family this year as they dedicate themselves to teaching and nurturing your children. Some of these new teachers have been added due to continued student enrollment growth and to keep smaller class sizes. Our staffing changes are highlighted in the Back-to-School edition of the Green & White district newsletter arriving in late August.

Here’s an update on our summer activities: Our Strategic Plan Goals are moving forward in the areas of Student Academic Achievement, Finance, Facilities/Learning Environments, and Communication /
Community Engagement. Academically, we continue to see growth in all schools, with three schools
achieving Highly Effective status this past school year! Financially, we had a larger than anticipated surplus again this past year and anticipate another surplus at the end of this coming fiscal year. We surpassed our 12% fund balance goal in Year 3 of five (!) and will set a new goal soon.

Regarding our Facilities, we are very busy and hard at work with all of the construction and renovation projects approved on the November 2017 ballot proposal. Thank you for supporting our Facilities’ needs! Current projects include roof work at Baker Elementary and WUHS, geothermal work at the Baker pre-school wing, restroom renovations at our elementary schools, and a new student parking lot and 12 new tennis courts at WUHS. All of these projects will be completed by the time school starts with two exceptions: The new tennis courts will not be completed until the end of the fall season and the final coat of asphalt on the HS student parking lot is scheduled for a weekend in mid-October after the tennis courts are completed. Starting in mid-September, we’ll begin construction of a new wing at the Middle School, which will also address our need for more classroom space and improved security with a new secure entrance and other renovations, and is slated for completion around August 1, 2019. Major renovations at Pine Street Elementary and the HS Media Center will commence in the summer of 2019.

In Communications, we are premiering a new mobile app that will enhance communications with parents, students, and citizens. Details on downloading and using this new Wayland Union Schools app are available on our website. You may also check out pictures of our various facility upgrades on our website. This summer’s maintenance projects are also 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; new LED lights throughout the district to promote energy efficiency and cost savings; some new carpeting and exterior doors at the HS; new radios and cameras on all school buses to enhance communications and safety; many new teacher computer work stations; and upgrades to the Cat’s Den (old HS cafeteria) including new furniture and a new School Spirit Store to be staffed by students in our Business classes to gain practical experiences. We also just took delivery of two more new 77 passenger buses, including another one with undercarriage storage compartments, which provides 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 and we anticipate a new record of over 10,000 free meals served after the Saturday, August 25 Kiwanis Kids’ Day in the Wayland City Park.

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 traits need to be continually guided and nurtured by the positive parental/adult role models and mentors in their lives – including you. Remember to check out our new app and our website at www.waylandunion.org, for the lastest school news and information. Please view our schools’ district Facebook pages on a regular basis to stay current about all school events, athletics, and student activities.

We appreciate you taking the time to read this Back-to-School edition of my Superintendent’s Blog. Once again, Thank You so much for your continued support of our facilities and educational excellence as we strive to enhance our Culture of Quality at Wayland Union Schools. It’s a great time to be a Wildcat! As always, I am open to meeting with parents or citizens at any mutual time to hear your ideas. Again this school year, I will hold Community Office hours on most Monday afternoons from 1:30-2:30 PM and Wednesday mornings from 7:30-9:00 AM unless I’m at a conference or it’s a school break week. You may also call my office at 269-792-2181 to make an appointment. Please feel free to contact us with any thoughts, concerns, or suggestions you may have to make Wayland Union Schools the best schools possible as we work together to Challenge – Inspire – Contribute.

Best Wishes for a wonderful and very successful 2018-2019 school year for all of our students, families, and staff!

Yours in Wildcat Pride,

Norman L. Taylor, Superintendent

Monday, February 26, 2018

School Safety

Wayland Union Schools Staff and Families:

We are all shocked and dismayed by another horrific act of a school shooting on 2/14/18 in Florida.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims and their entire community.  It is another sad day for everyone.

Unfortunately, school shootings, school violence, and inappropriate behaviors are in the news too frequently. The question of why these senseless acts of violence continue to occur should be reviewed and discussed at all levels of our society.  However, it is just as important how we locally support, inform, and respond to these situations that is a key to providing safe schools.  We need to grow the dialogue with our families, students, schools, and communities, to continue to work together to prevent such incidents from occurring.

Prevention
With the recent school attack in Florida, we want to assure parents, students, and families we are working daily to be very proactive in protecting our students, staff, and visitors.

Our students and parents have received training in reporting potential acts of violence or information that students may be hurting in some fashion, either physically or emotionally.  Life is full of stress and anxiety and it is not a bad thing to need or accept help.  It is sad not to address the needs of yourself or others. 

Our students have been repeatedly taught through a program brought into our schools annually about the OK2SAY program – an anonymous means to report concerns or potential threats to school authorities.  Our district website also offers a similar means to communicate concerns.  Students these days are on many social media sites and are often the first to be aware of issues, threats, or concerns.  If anyone sees or hears something, please report something!  Communication is a key to everyone’s safety.

Safeguards 
Our schools have enacted safety measures to secure the buildings and developed systems to prevent unauthorized entries. All exterior doors, except the primary office entrance doors, are kept closed and locked at all times.  All of our schools have secured entrances through the main office.  Office doors have electronic locks that require individuals to be allowed in by office staff.  Everyone entering the building must be identified with a purpose before they are allowed access to our students.

Our school district has a full-time and experienced Security Officer, has a cooperative relationship with city, county, and area law enforcement, and employs the services of a Security Consultant.  Our entire school staff, including support and transportation staff, have been trained by the Critical Incident Management (CIM) Team.  CIM consists of experienced police officers with extensive SWAT experience and realistic training.  School staff are trained in violence reactions drills, securing against threats, bomb threats, and hazardous materials reactions.  Our administrative team has also completed FEMA’s Incident Command Training and we are in the process of updating our Critical Incident and Emergency / Crisis Procedures manuals.

The CIM team works diligently with responders, including police, FBI, fire and medical personnel. We continue to work with mutual aid among schools with the CIM training on a regional basis to more effectively and professionally mitigate these incidents.  We use the CIM team to maintain constant update and training to maintain our vigilance. We are a part of the most proactive and professional response team in the nation.  

Security Measures
Our district is also being proactive in providing secure school buildings and a safe campus environment.  We have had security cameras in place for many years and will continue to add security cameras to our schools (both interior and exterior), playgrounds, and buses in the weeks ahead.  This past year, we received nearly a $100,000 security and safety grant from the MI State Police to install additional cameras, enhance our secure entrances, apply security window film, and purchase additional two-way radios to enhance security at all schools.  Our recently passed bond issue will also include enhanced security features for everyone’s safety.

We have a Board of Education Security Committee that has been recently formed and already had a meeting scheduled for February 26.  Recently, the administration and Board of Education reviewed a presentation by a security firm to provide additional district security and safety features.  We are currently reviewing that proposal.

Resources 
I have attached some possible resources for teachers or parents to use as needed when dealing with questions, concerns, or anxieties from students.

"Emergency Lesson Plans" for helping children cope with an emergent crisis. 
http://fg.ed.pacificu.edu/bailey/resources/papers/trauma/lessons.html

Teaching Tolerance Website
https://www.tolerance.org/

American Psychological Association: Talking with Kids About School Shootings for Parents
http://www.apa.org/topics/violence/school-shooting.aspx

Responding to Traumatic Events: Learn how to help children cope with trauma
https://childmind.org/topics/concerns/responding-to-traumatic-events/

Please know we take the safety of your children, our staff, and visitors very seriously.  It is our primary mission, even above educating our students.  We assure you that we are working daily to be proactive and vigilant in keeping our schools and facilities as safe as possible.  We are always open to your input and suggestions. 

Yours in Education,

Norman L. Taylor, Superintendent
taylorn@waylandunion.org

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

December 2017

Holiday Greetings!
We hope everyone had a marvelous Christmas and you were able to spend quality time with family and friends over the holidays.  These times are usually the best gifts we receive.  Again this year, our staff & students contributed many funds and items to support the needs of area children and families through local drives and our annual Allegan County United Way campaign.  We also encourage you to consider donations to the Wayland Union Education Foundation if you are contemplating year-end giving.
Wayland Union Schools has had an excellent 2017 based in part on improved academic achievements, highlighted by all schools attaining Highly Effective status, plus the recent announcement by the MI Department of Education that Steeby Elementary School (grades 2-4) has been selected as one of only two schools in MI to be designated a National Title I Distinguished School!  Our Steeby staff will be recognized and receive their award in Philadelphia at the National Title I Conference in February.  Congratulations to the Steeby faculty, staff, and Principal Mike Haverdink for their efforts in earning this national award!
Other highlights of 2017 include a continually improving financial status that will likely see the district reach its Five Year Strategic Plan goal of at least a 12% fund balance this spring at the end of just Year 3.  This is due to conservative financial management on the part of all district staff, a continuing increase in our student enrollment (up 47 students this fall to an enrollment of 3,042 students), increases in casino revenues due to their expansion, and over $200,000 in one time additional grants from various sources.    
Perhaps the best news in 2017 was that Our Children are Winners!

Our November 7 bond proposal passed and we greatly appreciate the efforts of our parents, staff, and citizens who worked so hard these past months to guide us toward a successful outcome to upgrade and expand our classrooms and facilities.  Thank You!!

So what happens now?  We have had multiple meetings and conversations with our architects and construction management team to map out a schedule for our projects over the next several years.  We’ve also had one of our faculty Advisory Committee’s tour five area schools just before Christmas break to get ideas from recent construction and renovation projects at those schools that we might incorporate or modify for the new 8th grade wing at our Middle School.  

In general, our next steps will be to take bids from bond underwriters and sell our bonds (likely toward the end of January depending on financial market conditions); begin the schematic design phases of each project by getting staff, Board, and community input; establish an efficient schedule for all projects; solicit bids in stages for all construction projects (tentatively set from April through August of 2018); and then begin construction on the various projects per the established schedule.  Roof work at our elementary schools should be one of our first projects and begin this summer.

Our aggressive goal would be to have the additional wing and classrooms at the Middle School and Pine St. renovations ready to go for students and staff by the start of school in the fall of 2019, as we are already running out of elementary classrooms due to the increased enrollment of recent years (this is the fifth time in the past six years that we’ve seen an enrollment increase), which is projected to continue into the near future.  We could then move 6th grade to the MS and 4th graders into Pine St. to provide additional classroom space in our elementary schools where we’re seeing the greatest increases in enrollment.

Concerning future facility needs or projects not addressed by this bond, our Board of Education and Facilities Committee will likely be reviewing these items as part of our regular facilities and maintenance projects planning process we conduct each spring in conjunction with our budget assumptions.

We appreciate the consistent parental and community support you have shown to us, the students you put in our care each day who are eager to learn, and our dedicated faculty, staff, and administrators who strive daily to Challenge, Inspire, and Contribute to each student’s success in a safe and secure environment.  Working together, Wayland Union Schools will continue to promote a Culture of Learning, Respect, and Quality in all we do!

Let’s remember to be appreciative of our many blessings.  Best wishes to you and your family during this holiday season!  May we all enjoy a blessed and healthy 2018.

Yours in Educational Excellence,

Norman L. Taylor

Superintendent     

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