Thursday, October 15, 2015

 Fall Greetings!

Our 2015-2016 school year is off to a fantastic start! Students, faculty, and staff have returned very enthused and ready for the challenges and opportunities that come with a new school year. Our district enrollment appears unofficially to be about 2915, up slightly from where we were last year, yet we are seeing some growth in our elementary schools.

A major focus on our continual monitoring of students’ academic success and our school improvement process is periodic assessments. We recently completed the fall cycle of DIBELS and NWEA testing. DIBELS stands for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills and measures reading fluency, phonics, and comprehension. NWEA (North West Evaluation Association) is a nationally normed assessment used to measure math & reading in grades K-1, while grades 2-8 use the NWEA to assess math, reading, and language usage. These assessments provide a more immediate feedback to teachers and principals that allow us to set appropriate interventions to meet students’ needs, plus we can more effectively monitor student growth in these areas with fall, winter, and spring assessments.

In an effort to continually improve our communications, we have introduced some new areas of communication that I made reference to in my previous Blog. First, we have our new and dynamic Wayland Union Schools district website in place and fully operational. Please check it out at www.waylandunion.org. We hope you find it very user friendly, especially when accessing it from smartphones and tablets. We are continually adding new content and information, so check it out often, as well as our district Facebook page. Our other new avenue to enhance communications is our Key Communicators Network comprised of approximately 30 individuals throughout our school district, representing parents, businesses, civic & municipal organizations, seniors, clergy, and citizens in general. We had our initial kick-off meeting with this group on September 22 and anticipate improved two-way communications in the months ahead.

Our Facilities Needs Assessment is still on-going throughout our school district as the architectural firm Tower Pinkster reviews the physical condition and mechanical status of all district buildings and grounds. We anticipate this review will be completed during October with a subsequent report given to the Board and our communities. We will advertise any public forums held to review the Facilities Needs Assessment once the report is complete and reviewed by the Board of Education. Please note, NO decisions have been made yet regarding how or when the district might address any facilities needs brought out by the pending assessment report from our architects. Any such discussions and decisions would be made at public forums and Board of Education meetings.

Speaking of facilities, the school district has also been approached regarding the potential sale of the Moline School building and property to an area business owner to expand his business. Talks have been on-going between the potential buyer, the school district, and Leighton Township officials. The district still has some outstanding bonds on the school from a previous bond issue, however, we are able to sell the property and continue paying down the bonds on the current schedule. Any funds received from the sale of the property would likely be used to pay down the bonds, which would be a savings to our taxpayers.

I also want to update you about some upcoming district events during October. During the week of October 19-23, we will have school assemblies from the Attorney General’s OK2SAY program, while a Community Forum will be held at 7:00 PM the evening of Wednesday, October 21 in the Fine Arts Center (FAC). Interested parents and citizens are encouraged to attend. Light refreshments and child care will be provided.   

This evening presentation will cover what the students see in their respective presentations, as well as what OK2SAY is, and how it works. The goal of OK2SAY is to stop harmful behavior before it occurs by encouraging students to report threatening behavior to caring adult authorities who can help. OK2SAY is a program designed to empower Michigan students, parents, school personnel, community mental health service programs, and law enforcement to share and respond to student safety threats. The Community Forum provides practical tools including internet safety tips and how to: 1) access the Michigan Sex Offender Registry; 2) understand the impact of digital footprints; 3) appreciate the risk of sharing photos with embedded location information; 4) recognize the potential dangers and legal ramification of sexting; and 5) identify cyberbullying warning signs and develop a plan of action. We encourage you to attend the October 21 evening presentation to learn more about OK2SAY.

 All of these efforts listed above fall within the goals and objectives of our district’s Strategic Plan – information that is also available in more detail on our district website. As part of our continuous work to keep Wayland Union Schools moving forward, we have set the morning of Saturday, March 12, 2016 as the date for our Strategic Plan Year 1 Annual Review and Progress Report to our communities. More information and details will be made available closer to that date.

Thank you for your continued support of our students, faculty, staff, administration, and Board of Education trustees as we work together to create a Culture of Quality at Wayland Union Schools.

Please have a beautiful fall season and you are welcome to contact me anytime with questions.