Dr. Christine Johns

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Monthly Archives: August 2016


UCS opens new school year with continued focus on student learning, safe environment


Welcome to the 2016-17 school year!

The new school year is always an exciting time full of endless possibilities and new beginnings.

At Utica Community Schools, we are adding to this excitement with important enhancements for our students as they start this new year.

For instance, we are creating greater access to computer science and coding instruction at all grade levels. This expansion will build on our commitment that UCS students have a competitive advantage for the jobs of the future when they graduate from our high schools.

We are also focused on making sure our students have greater access and success when it comes to more rigorous coursework at the secondary schools.

In addition to these changes inside the classrooms, students are also returning to important improvements in the infrastructure of the schools themselves.

These improvements, which were put into place when voters approved the 2009 bond issue, are centered are three critical areas: building infrastructure and safety, technology and creating parity between our schools.

The first area – safety – has and will continue to be a top priority for our schools. The focus on this issue, however, has gained more national prominence as a result of events from around the world and country.

As a result of these conversations and events, you may have questions regarding your student’s school. I want to assure our community of our efforts to make sure UCS students are learning in classroom settings that are safe and focused on exemplary teaching and learning.

Please be aware that we have instituted a locked-door procedure that requires visitor to use a phone system for checking in prior to gaining entrance to schools during the school day.

This year, we have provided additional security at our high schools by constructing a secure lobby entrance at Henry Ford II and Eisenhower high schools. Secure lobby entrances were created at Stevenson in 2010 and at Utica High School in 2013.

In addition to these building improvements, our district staff practice and follow critical policies and procedures that promote student safety.

For instance, we continue to conduct regular emergency drills for fire, tornado or lockdown. The dates of these completed drills for each school are posted on our website for your review at this link. Our local law enforcement agencies work with us to make sure we are communicating important information that keep our students safe.

It is not unusual to see a police car at our school, where officers are parked to write a report on something from their day or are visiting the school to become more familiar with our staff and building layouts.

We certainly hope that we will never need to use the safety procedures or drills. However, we will continue to work with our local law enforcement and district security team to focus on these procedures and make sure we are ready should they ever be needed.

Best wishes for a safe, productive and happy 2016-2017 school year.