Despite rising tensions around a re-vote of Williamston school board over a trans-inclusive bathroom rule, the Oct. 1 meeting was business as usual. The board focused on working to get a passenger van, approve the construction of a dividing wall to separate a section of the gym for the wrestling team and review the goals of the board and its respective progress. The decision between whether to vote for new board members or re-vote for the same members over a rule passed by the current school board which attempted to be more inclusive for transgender students in the district. The rule wanted to lay out a rule that would allow students who identify as transgender to use the appropriate school facilities during the school day according to their gender identiry, which has become a divisive topic at previous school board meetings overshadowing other work being done at the meetings.
After months of deliberation and a slew of meetings trademarked with passionate arguments, the Williamston Community Schools Board of Education passed a pair of policies in November 2017 in relation to transgender youth and their definition, among other guidelines. And despite passing months ago, the debate surrounding the policies have yet to go away. Currently, there’s a pending federal lawsuit that names six of seven Williamston Board of Education members as defendants: Greg Talberg, Christopher Lewis, Sarah Belanger, Nancy Deal, Kathy Hayes and Joel Gerring. The seventh member of the board at the time, Jeffrey West, was the lone vote against the policies, which the school board passed 6-1. He is not named in the lawsuit.
On Oct.13 Williamston Elementary School’s annual fun run event raised over $30,000 for the district — the most money raised in eight years of the event. Students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade went outside to run and exercise for 45 minutes with volunteers, parents, and teachers for donations. The fun run event is coordinated by the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) for the elementary schools in Williamston. Students began accepting donations from the entire community on Sept. 11 and ended on Oct.
The water in all of Williamston’s schools is being tested as a precautionary action, school officials say. Narda Murphy, superintendent for Williamston Community Schools, said that the school is working with Testing Engineers & Consultants Inc. to test the water. Greg Talberg, one of the trustees on Williamston’s School board, asked at the Jan. 18 School Board meeting if the water at the middle school had been tested yet, according to unapproved minutes from the meeting. Talberg said in an interview this week that he asked the question due to what is happening with the Flint water crisis and due to a strange odor and taste in Williamston Middle School’s water.
A new co-ed tennis team at Williamston Middle School was approved this month by the Board of Education. The idea was pitched by Tom Hampton, Williamston Community Schools’ athletic director, on Jan. 18 at a Williamston Board of Education meeting and was approved on Feb. 1. “Last year some other area coaches and I met during the season to discuss the possibilities of having a middle school tennis league,” said Nathan Schwarzbek, high school varsity coach.
In celebration of fire prevention week, the Williamston Firemen’s Association is hosting the 6th annual pancake breakfast and open house on Saturday, Oct. 10. Between 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., members of the association will serve all-you-can-eat pancakes with scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns, orange juice, milk and coffee at the NIESA/Williamston Fire Station, 1296 W. Grand River Ave. “It’s a fundraiser for the association, (which) uses it to buy equipment for the department,” said Capt. Scott Cochrane. “We also give money to local charities like the food bank.”
Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for children under 12 or $20 per family.
WILLIAMSTON – Loss of funds has not stopped Williamston High School from providing sports programs for its students. The high school has avoided cutting sports teams and coaching positions but has had to trade two part-time athletic directors for one part-time athletic director and assistant principal, Mike Freeman, who took on the extra role without additional pay. The school has also had to cut back on uniforms, supplies and materials. Finance Director Steve Cook said the district has lost $270 per student, or about $500,000. The district’s total budget is just shy of $16 million.
WILLIAMSTON – Williamston Community Schools have had to cut spending for academics, faculty and administration. Finance Director Steve Cook said that for this school year the district lost $470 per student but regained $200 per student in incentive money based on percentage growth in state test scores. In total, the district lost $270 per student or about $500,000. The district now gets $6,888 per student, or a total budget just shy of $16 million. Cook said that there is a potential for gaining another $90 per student through incentives for the coming school year, and that other money for the district should stay the same.
Haslett Public Schools and Williamston Community Schools have agreed on a consolidation technology agreement. Haslett will provide technology services for Williamston. The agreement comes as a result from rising education costs and a lack of federal resources. Williamston has never been in the position of having to cut programs from their school curriculum. Students will not be impacted in any manner from this agreement.