Williamston Community Schools’ water being tested

By Kelsey Clements
The Williamston Post

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.

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Ingham County health officer, Linda Vail talks about the water testing in Ingham County schools. Photo by Kelsey Clements

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.

“It is just some precautionary procedures due to Flint,” said Talberg. “I am confident that the administration is handling it and doing its best to keep students and faculty safe.”

According to Williamston School Board member Joel Gerring, water testing is different for each district. The water quality permits vary for each school district and community.

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New Williamston co-ed middle school tennis team approved

Kelsey Clements
The Williamston Post

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.

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Williamston Community Schools’ tennis courts which will be used by the new co-ed tennis teams

“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. “Our sport has seen a vast decline in participation since 2007 when Michigan High School Athletic Association switched the boys and girls tennis seasons and because of that, we want the sport to grow.”  Continue reading

Schools update with cyber-bullying policies

By Teresa Fata
The Williamston Post

The April 20 school board meeting for Williamston Community Schools began with a public hearing about cyber-bullying amendments to the district’s Bullying Policy and Rules.

Although the bullying policy had been updated in 2012, it was updated again to include cyber-bullying.

Later during the school board meeting, the members of the school board unanimously voted to revise the policy to include cyber-bullying, which is defined as aggressive behavior toward another person that takes place via any type of electronic communication was never explicitly stated in the 2012 bullying policy.

The updated policy says that any students who feel they’re victims of cyber-bullying should report the issue to their principal or assistant principal, whereas before that was only the case for bullying and/or hazing.

After the meeting, many parents expressed joy that the update had been approved, including parents who don’t allow their kids much time on social media or the Internet, stating that regardless of how much time they spend on the Internet, the update makes them feel more comfortable allowing their children to spend time on the Internet.

Board President Marci Scott said  “(I) absolutely (think the update was necessary). The 2012 version didn’t have cyber-bullying called out specifically,” said Scott. “The revised school code has Matt’s Safe School Law, and so this is what charged us with, and charged all of the districts with adding these kind of things to it. It’s a really nice connection.”

Williamston Schools thrive on Tier System

By Julie Dunmire
The Williamston Post

A presentation on educational improvements made in Williamston Community schools was given to the school board at their last meeting. The primary focus was the benefits the “tier system” has made in recent years.

IMG_2948The middle school made strides in increasing its proficiency across reading, writing and math, by preaching literacy to students.

This improvement can be attributed to the “tier” adaptation being put in place, to help at-risk students get the help they need, while encouraging higher-level learning for students who may be ahead.

Kelly Campbell, multi tiered system of supports coordinator, works hand in hand with both the middle school and high school curricula and says that working hard and as a team is the key to a student’s education.

“Really, our school improvement is about making sure all students are improving,” said Campbell. “We want to make sure all students have a quality core instruction that is going to give them 21st century skills.”

This skill set is one that should transfer into high school, as well. Williamston High School Principal Dr. Jeff Thoenes says that the coordination and transition from middle to high school is highly valued.

“The middle school and the high school coordinate really well,” said Thoenes. “Best I’ve seen in my career.”
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Deal, Grant and Lewis win school seats

By Katie Krall and Tiago Zielske
The Williamston Post

Nancy Deal, Timothy Grant and Christopher Lewis won 6-year seats on Williamston’s school board Tuesday.

Deal pulled away with 22.25 percent of votes. Grant secured 17.17 percent of votes and Lewis finished with 14.85 percent. After the election is certified, the candidates will need to sign documents accepting their positions, but the three new board members won’t begin their terms until January.

Deal said that when she heard the news, she was excited.

“I am very humbled and honored to be voted into the position as a Williamston school board member,” Deal said. “I am also grateful for all the support I received during my campaign.”
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Rolling Video Games coming to Williamston High School

By Tiago Zielske
The Williamston Post

A new attraction could roll in for Williamston High School’s home football playoff.

Board Member Charles Hasemann presented the school board with the fundraising idea Oct. 20.

Rolling Video Games is a game truck trailer with four widescreen high-definition TVs that cover the walls of the trailer, with built-in vibration motors synched to the on-screen action and speakers in the front and back.

Hasemann said, “At events where there are lots of families with lots of kids who aren’t participating in the event…it gets all the siblings engaged in something worthwhile to the kids.”

The school board wanted to get the trailer for the last home game but missed their opportunity, so they will have the trailer come in for the first playoff game for the Hornets.

It will be parked by one of the end zones and kids will be able to buy a wristband to get access for the evening.

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Williamston schools suffer from enrollment slump

By Kelsey Parkinson
Williamston Post staff writer

While Michigan is recovering from the economic downturn over the past few years, the state’s schools are still suffering – but not from funding. From declining enrollment.

Williamston Community Schools’ student enrollment has gone from 1,884 students during the 2009-10 school year, to 1,799 students this school year, according to the Michigan Department of Education.

chartThis trend is being seen statewide, according to Brian Ciloski, analyst at the MDE.

“Statewide, we went from 1,623,000 in 2009-2010, to 1,523,000 this year,” Ciloski said. “There’s been about 20,000 students a year that the state has been losing.”

What has been causing this downward trend? Williamston School Board Trustee Rhonda Coon thinks that it might have something to do with a kind of “baby boom.”

“The largest graduating class was in 2010, with 191 students graduating,” Coon said. “There was a small baby boom, I guess you could say, in 1991 and 1992. Those kids graduated in 2010.”

Coon herself moved to Williamston at about the time her own son was starting kindergarten. He graduated in 2010.

“There was a lot of growth at the time I moved to Williamston,” Coon said. “We’re now seeing that boom affecting us.”
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Williamston Community School Board deliberates new medication policy

By RuAnne Walworth
Williamston Post staff writer

Williamston Community School Board met Oct. 21 and deliberated on the new policy change of administering medication in the schools.

According to Board President Marci Scott, this is pretty heavy-duty policy change that has been further looked into by the superintendent.

The new policy is recommended by the Michigan Association of School Boards, Trustee Rhonda Coon said. According to the school board, one of the main points the new policy enforces deals with procedures on how medications are distributed to students.

“We are now asking that with prescription medication that there are two adults supervising, rather than just one. The same thing goes for recording use of medication.” Coon said. Continue reading

Deliberation on new superintendent form for Williamston School District

By Leslie Spector
Williamston Post staff writer

Standing left to right: Secretary Ernie Gaffner, Vice President Lary Ward, President Marci Scott, Treasurer Gordon Wenk Sitting left to right: Trustees Charles Haseman, Rhonda Coon and Jeff West

Standing left to right: Secretary Ernie Gaffner, Vice President Lary Ward, President Marci Scott, Treasurer Gordon Wenk
Sitting left to right: Trustees Charles Haseman, Rhonda Coon and Jeff West

The main topic at the Williamston school board meeting on Monday, Sept. 30, was the superintendent evaluation form.

Currently, the Williamston Board of Education uses the Michigan Association of School Boards evaluation for the superintendent. Narda Murphy, superintendent of the Williamston school district, suggested to the board to switch to the Michigan Association of School Administration, or M.A.S.A., superintendent evaluation.

Murphy prepared a PowerPoint presentation for the meeting, which included information about the new evaluation and an explanation of how the board could benefit.

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