Monday, August 3, 2015

Summer Greetings!

We trust your summer is going well, that you are staying cool the best you can, and enjoying the many wonderful summer amenities available to us in West Michigan.  I appreciate those of you who have read my first Blog.  This blog is another attempt on my part to increase the ways we communicate with our parents, staff, and citizens.  You will see more about improving communications in the coming months as Communication/Community Engagement is one of the four Goal areas of our new Strategic Plan (the other Goal areas are Student Achievement, Facilities/Learning Environment, and Finance).

So while I’m on the topic, here’s a summer update on our Strategic Plan.  The administrative co-chairs of our four goal committees and I met for 3 hours on Friday, July 10 with our new MI Association of School Boards (MASB) rep Rod Green.  The goal of this meeting was to begin developing administrative Action Plans for each of the respective objectives under each goal.  The Action Plans include specific efforts & plans, who is responsible for follow up, a timeline of achievement, and a measure or criteria of success to evaluate our progress.  These are almost complete and will be finalized in early August when all the administrators return from their summer break.  Once finalized, they will be presented to the Board of Education to review and shared with all staff as we work in harmony to achieve our goals.  More information on our specific Strategic Plan Goals & Objectives can be found on the district website at www.wayland.k12.mi.us. 

Speaking of our website, we are currently working this summer on a new, improved, and more user friendly website that will fully adapt to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.  This is a daunting task in setting up the new format and converting much information into the new website.  We appreciate the efforts of Teresa Fulk & Laurie Zywiczynski in taking on this project and anticipate rolling the new website out in early September around the start of the new school year. Stay tuned for that announcement later this summer!

One of the Strategic Plan’s Facilities/Learning Environment goals involves the district hiring an architectural firm to do a Facilities Needs Assessment this summer and early fall.  The purpose of this Assessment is to guide the district’s short and long-term maintenance and facilities upgrade projects.  We have many fine facilities yet also have others that are showing their age.  One of the areas we already know that is a major concern is our aging pool.  It is over 40 years old and some of the mechanical systems or “pool pack” are 30 years old and a source of many repairs in recent years.  We anticipate the Assessment being completed early this fall and a report with recommendations presented to the Board, staff, and community.

One of the greatest assets in our district (besides our wonderful students, parents, and community support!), is our caring and dedicated staff.  We have had a few individuals change positions already this summer due to some retirements.  As you may have already read or heard, Pam Coleman, our Executive Administrative Assistant, retired at the end of June.  Our new Executive Administrative Assistant is Dawn Stein, the longtime Secretary to the WUHS Principal, Mr. Cutler.  Dawn’s replacement at WUHS is Joyce Steffes, longtime Counseling Secretary, and our new Counseling Secretary is Kathleen Lehnertz, who held the same position at Kelloggsville HS.

We’ve also learned recently of the pending retirement at the end of August of Deanna Hayes, a veteran district administrator and the current Director of Instruction.  Interviews were recently held and we have selected Teresa Fulk, our current Technology Director, to become the new Director of Instruction.  She will work with Deanna to transition into this new position through August.  In the meantime, we are in the process of selecting a new Technology Director.  It’s always wonderful when we can promote quality individuals from within our school district!

Our summer meals program continues to be a huge success as we tie it in with our summer school and other enrichment programs, both at Steeby Elementary and various site throughout our school district.  More information on these free meals, including locations, times, and our generous sponsors, may also be found on our website or posters displayed in multiple businesses.

As a wrap up from this past spring, we want to wish our 219 WUHS & CCA graduates all the best as they prepare for careers, college, or service to our nation in our armed forces.  The parental, community, and staff support provided to these students should serve them well in the years ahead, and it has been rewarding to hear many positive comments to that affect this year.

Financially, the district anticipates finishing the 2014-2015 fiscal year that ended on June 30 with a larger than anticipated surplus – a credit to responsible management of our limited resources on the part of many individuals.  Final figures will be known later in the fall at the conclusion of our annual district audit.  The 2015-2016 General Fund budget adopted by the Board of Education on June 22 also has an anticipated surplus as we work toward another of our district’s Strategic Plan goals of adding .5% to 1% of revenues to our fund balance annually to build up this fund and minimize future borrowing needs.

Several budgetary items related to our new budget adopted by the Board include:
Ø  Purchasing over 1300 new iPads for secondary students as we renew our 1:1 iPad initiative started three years ago using casino funds.  The older iPads are being refreshed and will be used in grades K-6 in either classroom sets or at learning stations in classrooms as teachers work to further differentiate and individualize instruction to maximize each student’s learning & success potential (elementary iPads will remain at the school while secondary students are assigned a specific iPad and may take them home at night).
Ø  Purchasing 6 new school busses to replace older, high mileage busses in our fleet.  These new 77 passenger busses should be delivered by early August and ready to be put in service for the start of the new school year.  They will allow us to maintain our focus on student safety, and being larger than the current 71 passenger busses, also provide more room for student comfort.
Ø  The district has revised how it spends the generous cash-in-lieu of taxes funds from the Gun Lake Casino revenue sharing.  The district will no longer provide free admittance for all Wayland Union fans to athletic events or school plays.  We will return to the previous standard practice of charging $5 for adult admissions.  WUS students with a student ID or accompanied by a parent will still be admitted free.  Athletic pass plans will still be available to economize your family’s attendance and passes may also be earned by working at five athletic events, as we are always looking for workers at athletic events.  More details later in the Back-to-School edition of the district newsletter Green & White, or by contacting the Athletic Office at 269-792-2254.
Ø  The district subsidy for students taking Driver Education classes has been eliminated.  The district is researching a partnership with a commercial program to continue offering Driver Education on site at a reasonable cost.  Information on fall Driver Education sessions and costs will be announced later in August.  Currently, there are no summer Driver Education classes being offered at WUHS.

In other news, work on renovations to the Fr/JV Baseball field continue despite the project getting off to a slow start as we had to wait for the required county & state permits to begin the work.  Thanks to a rebounding economy and construction related projects, requests for permits this summer is very high ad taking longer than normal to process.  We anticipate completing the project this fall yet we are at the mercy of fall and spring weather as far as how it contributes to the growing season for the grass and when it will be ready to use for practices and games.

You may have seen signs in front of our office and the various schools soliciting for substitutes for this coming school year.  We are always looking for good substitute teachers, aides, bus drivers, and food service help – occasionally on a long term basis.  This summer, Allegan County schools, including Wayland Union, have transitioned from using PESG to EDUStaff as the provider of our substitutes.  Substitute information is available on our district website www.wayland.k12.mi.us (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 EDUStaff.org or by calling 877-974-6338.  


Please have a great rest of the summer, continue promoting literacy skills with the children in your life, and we’ll see students back at school on Tuesday, September 8, 2015!