April 8, 2024



    Dear UCS Community,


    It seems hard to believe that only nine weeks remain in this year’s academic calendar. The pace that we experienced this year will only increase as we move into the last academic quarter and begin to conclude the year with the multiple celebrations and traditions that champion our success. Throughout this school year, we have felt a positive energy from day one – the successes have felt greater and the traditions that continue to return are deeper.


    In this backdrop of success, we recently shared a profile of 2022 graduate Ethan Gastmeier. In the feature, Ethan shared how his dual enrollment opportunity in UCS and Oakland Community College led him to study Japanese language and literature abroad. It is an experience that changed his future path.


    His advice: “I would tell current students to take risks in their academic careers and try something outside of their comfort zone. Be open to all sorts of ideas and ways of living; the world is wide.”


    Ethan’s life-changing experiences are what we seek for all of our students. No matter where their future will take them, we want them to find their passions by challenging themselves and taking advantage of the multiple pathways available in Michigan’s second largest school district.


    A legacy of excellence lives within Utica Community Schools, inspiring curiosity, discovery, and excellence for generations. Today’s students continue these traditions, as they are empowered to learn, grow, and realize their full potential.


    As the district builds for the future, we recognize that to respect our history and maintain our energy towards remarkable student achievement, we must continue to evolve. If we do not change, we will prevent the innovation and growth that has provided UCS with a legacy of excellence.


    The transformational changes that will continue this tradition of innovation are found in the pages of our UCS Empowered Strategic Plan and its cultures of empowerment, caring and transformation.


    A clear example of our work to guide our future is the implementation of the $550 million bond issue, supported by voters in May 2023, the largest in the history of our district.


    The first phase will feature projects across the district that improve the safety of our schools at every building and specifically address the urgent need at our “open concept” schools - existing elementary schools that do not have a complete set of interior walls or doors for classroom areas.


    The bond issue also begins to reimagine how our facilities are designed to support learning. This new design will be introduced at DeKeyser Elementary, which is undergoing significant reconstruction to address needed learning and safety improvements. Ultimately, it will serve as the guide for future change at all elementary schools.


    All phase one projects have been shared with our school communities. Even as we begin this summer’s improvements, we are already planning the second phase of bond projects. This planning includes identifying elementary schools for reconstruction or replacement and reviewing attendance areas that support neighborhood schools. Over the next few weeks, we will share additional information on both facility improvement and usage.


    Phase one improvements, an updated Q and A and design images that represent the future for our elementary schools are on our website: http://www.uticak12.org/safetyandsuccess.


    Over the past year, our Teaching and Learning department has also introduced significant improvements that have impacted nearly every academic subject area of our district.


    An important tool that we use to guide these improvements is the series of state and national tests that begin this week. Each assessment is a measure of the knowledge and skills our students learn in school.


    Students can use the assessment to identify both their accomplishments and areas where they may need additional support. For families, these assessment results reflect how their child is performing academically. For our UCS team, the assessments represent a critical evaluation of our programs and services. It is one of the determining factors for where we need to place our energy and resources to meet the high expectations we have for our students.


    Families should encourage their students to do their best and maintain a serious approach to the assessments. It is also important that they maintain a good routine including being well-rested and maintaining a nutritious diet.

    As Ethan demonstrates, opportunity is found through multiple pathways within Utica Community Schools. At UCS, it is the person that is important, not just the pathway that they choose.

    The challenge that remains for all of us is to give our students and staff the tools and opportunities they need and deserve to find that pathway that will empower their future success.


    Lastly, this afternoon we will have an amazing educational opportunity with the Total Solar Eclipse. Our schools were provided safety glasses for all students and staff as well as educational resources. Principals have shared information with their communities on protocols that are in place so that we can safely experience this rare event.




    Robert S. Monroe
    Superintendent of Schools