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News and Notes

MIdweek UPdate: 2/14/2023

Tom DeKeyser, Superintendent

Dear WLPS Families

Michigan State University:

Our hearts break for all those affected by the MSU tragedy last night, especially the victims and their families, and we send them our support.

Whether you have direct connections to MSU or not, you are a parent and guardian. As you navigate the days ahead, remember that our support staff are available to help students and staff and provide resources to families. Children will look to the adults in their life for information and guidance. Below are some resources to help you navigate these conversations. If you feel your child would benefit from a check-in with our support staff, please contact your building directly.

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

Helping Children Cope After a Traumatic Event

Helping Children Cope with Frightening News

A Guide for Parents and Educators Tips for Talking to Children and Youth After Traumatic Events

Taking Care: A Guide to Mental Health for Everybody

I’ll continue to work with the county on making our schools safer. I’ve been a part of teams that met with officials from Sandy Hook and Oxford.  We are learning how to respond to violence and threats faster and more proactively.  But… collectively, we (the adults) have to find a way to get ahead of this violence. We need to do better. Our children deserve better.

Take care of each other, and let us know how we can support you.


Operating Millage

At this month’s Board of Education meeting, our Board voted to put the WLPS Operating Millage back up for a vote at a special May 2, 2023 election.

In November this proposal failed by a slim margin. If the millage does not pass in May, WLPS will lose over $400k in funding over the next 4 years. Feedback we received from our community was, “We didn’t know about it,” or “We didn’t understand it.” There are 12 weeks between now and the election–plenty of time to become an informed voter.

Below are the key takeaways you need to know about this millage:

  • Only businesses and second homes/properties are impacted by this 10-year millage. Primary homes are not taxed.
  • WLPS will lose over $400k in funding if this does not pass. This millage pays for operating costs–everything from building security to electrical bills. If we lose funding, we will need to make cuts elsewhere to cover these essential costs.
  • This is not a new tax. The last time voters renewed the current operating millage for WLPS was in 2016. That operating millage has eroded from 18 mills to 17.9458 mills and will continue to decrease as property values change. That might not sound like a lot, but it results in over $400k less in funding over 4 years based on our conservative estimates.

Essentially, a YES vote will let us continue to levy the required 18 mills AND have a 3-mill “hedge,” which is government speak for having 3 mills worth of wiggle room to make up for any loss as property values change. This is common practice among schools so they don’t have to keep going back to voters every time property values change–like we are doing now. Voting NO means WLPS will lose over $400k in state funding.

Operating millages are required by law for school districts to receive per student funding from the State of Michigan.

Help us inform voters in our community by forwarding this message and/or sharing this Information Sheet with your family and friends in the district. And, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


Let Us Know Poll

Please take one minute to let us know if you understand what the operating millage is and how it affects you as a taxpayer in this month’s “Let Us Know Poll.”


Academic Calendar for 23/24 and 24/25

Preparation for next school year is well underway. To aid in your family plans, you can access downloadable academic calendars for the 23/24 and 24/25 school year on our website HERE.


Middle School Drama Production This Weekend

In the synopsis of last weekend’s WLMS Drama Club production, The Internet is a Distract- OH LOOK A KITTEN!  It was described as a “high-octane comedy.” I might adopt that as the new way to describe our Drama Clubs in general.  In only six weeks, 28 middle school students in grades 5-8 spent nearly 30 hours preparing for this production. While enjoying each of their productions, I’m always struck by their confidence and creativity and by the teamwork and collaboration that goes into making the production run successfully. Similar to team sports, the benefits of being involved in our drama clubs are endless.

We are lucky to have strong theater art leaders on our staff. Patti Kobeck, the 5th/6th grade English Language Arts teacher, is the director of our Middle School Drama Club.  David Chapman, our 5th/6th grade science teacher, built the sets, and our Elementary art teacher, Stephanie Showman, helped with costumes for this production. Students’ experiences in Middle School Drama build a solid foundation for our High School Drama Club, led by WLHS Drama Club alumni, current WLMS/HS English teacher, and WLHS Drama Director, Carol Spilak.

New this year, we offer our middle and high school students Theater Arts as an elective co-taught by Ms. Spilak and Mrs. Fixler.  Students in this class learn techniques for auditions, sound, lighting, set construction, costuming, set painting, make-up, marketing, and vocal and dance techniques specific to musical theater all while focusing on producing one specific show for the semester. We are grateful to have her expertise and expand the opportunities available to our students.

You can witness another high-octane performance next month when our WLHS Drama Club presents Mary Poppins Jr. Details can be found HERE.


Tom DeKeyser


Whitmore Lake Public Schools

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