THE DISTRICT DISPATCH Royal Oak Schools news, straight to your inbox

In This Issue

  • Back To School
  • Welcome New Staff Members
  • Honoring our Retirees
  • Operating Millage Information
  • Additional Resources for Families
  • Tuition Preschool
  • ESL & GED Registration
  • Diversity Task Force Press Release
  • Kits 4 Kids Program Success
  • Available Positions at the District
  • Social Media
Back To School

As our Royal Oak Schools staff finalizes plans for our return to school, we would like to say thank you for all of your feedback, questions, and concerns. We remain committed to a highly successful school year for all students. The staff is eager to be back working with students and their colleagues.

For families who indicated that they are in need of Chromebooks for learning at home, please note those devices will be distributed at each building during their regular materials pick-up and/or registration times over the next week. Look for details about specific dates and times in your school's communications.

If you have not already done so, please use the MiStar Parent Portal and update your family's information for the new school year. This can be completed using the link referred to in the Annual Registration information. Completing this process is required for all families regardless of the learning plan your child(ren) will use this year.

Your voice matters! At Royal Oak Schools, we are committed to continuous improvement and effective communications with the families we serve. We know how busy you are, but we are asking if you would take the time to fill out a survey to help us gauge attitudes and perceptions and help us to serve our students and community better. We depend on feedback from our community to keep improving! You may take the anonymous and confidential survey by clicking here. To help ensure an accurate representation of our community, we ask that each household completes this survey once.



The summer has been busy at the District Offices as more than 20 new staff members have been interviewed, screened and hired. Welcome to the following team members and we wish you a successful career in Royal Oak Schools.


  • Michael Carman, ELA/Social Studies
  • Heather Cleland-Host, Math/Science Teacher
  • Claudia Ortiz, Spanish Teacher
  • Megan McCaffrey, AST Teacher
  • Aime Price, 8th grade Science


  • Jenna Kotula, French Teacher
  • Vashon Strong, Counselor
  • Brittany Szunko, PE Teacher


  • Samantha Hepner, Blended Preschool
  • Cari Villaluz, Early Interventionist


  • Katherine Bontumasi, Developmental Kindergarten
  • Abilyn Cardelli, 1st/2nd Grade Loop
  • Micaela Stafford, 1st/2nd Grade Loop


  • Jan Mecano, Kindergarten
  • Kate Rybicki, Developmental Kindergarten


  • Katherine Bortolotti, Kindergarten Teacher
  • Chystin Leitzel, 1st Grade Teacher


  • Hannah Carlock, Developmental Kindergarten
  • Kaela Sakurafis, 2nd Grade Teacher


  • Jessica Nguyen, Speech Pathologist
  • Jennifer Romanczuk, Occupation Therapist


  • Mary Sier, WOAK Station Manager
  • Teresa Graham, Accountant

Watch new staff video!

Good Luck On Your Retirement!

School Board Recognizes Retiring Employees

Congratulations to these employees who retired before the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

  • Maisoon Abbawi, Addams Elementary, Paraprofessional, 25 years
  • Bertha Arribas, ROHS Spanish Teacher, 37 years
  • Diana Barber, Grade Level Secretary, ROMS, 25 years
  • Amelia Cooper, Addams Elementary Second Grade Teacher, 30 years
  • Cathy Downey, Upton/Addams Elementary Music Teacher, 38 years
  • Adria Filips, Addams Elementary Second Grade Teacher, 35 years
  • James Fitzpatrick, Churchill/MTC Teacher/Paraprofessional, 28 years
  • Pam Grier, District Administration Accountant, 24 years
  • Kathy Knapp, ROMS Counselor, 36 years
  • Thomas McLeod, ROMS Math Teacher, 22 years
  • Kim McMillan, Addams Elementary First Grade Teacher, 35 years
  • Helaine Simons, Oak Ridge Elementary Paraprofessional, 7 years
  • Karen Sirovy, Speech and Language Pathologist, Addams ECC
  • Beth Stein, District Administration Special Education Secretary, 6 years

We are happy to recognize them for their dedicated service to Royal Oak. Thank you!

Vote On The Operating Millage Nov. 3


On November 3, Royal Oak Schools will have a proposal on the ballot to restore and extend the non-homestead millage rate of 18 mills and the hold harmless millage for a period of 10 years. These millages generate $23 million for general operations of the school district. The ballot proposal, if approved, would support day-to-day operations. These millages were last approved in 2013, with a small non-homestead-only override approved in 2016. Before 1994 the millage rates were higher. The current millage expired with the 2020 tax levy.

“Without these millages the District would lose $4,220 in revenue per student of our $9,118 foundation allowance at the 2019-20 levels,” said Kathy Abela, Executive Director of Finance & Operations for Royal Oak Schools. “The loss of this funding would cause the District to make tough choices to reduce our budget, which may include program cuts, increased class sizes, staff layoffs, and/or service cuts.”

The dollars generated by these millages provide 46% of the district's budget which covers almost half of the current operations of the Royal Oak Schools District.

You can vote on this millage on November 3, 2020.

Click here for commonly asked questions about the millage.

Click here for the exact ballot language. And remember to check the back of the ballot!

The passage of this restoration millage will allow us to collect $4,220 per pupil and extend over $23 million to the general fund without increasing the authorization for homeowners. If the community supports this millage, Royal Oak Schools will be able to continue providing excellent curriculum and educational opportunities for the students.

Resources For Your Family


During this time of uncertainty, many are wondering where their next meal is coming from, or if they can pay their utility bill next month. We understand and have put together a list of resources for our Royal Oak families. On the list you'll find everything from where to find free meals to tutoring help to mental and emotional help for your students.

Use this link to see the full list. If you know of a group that should be on this list, please let us know.

Spots Open For Tuition Preschool


Tuition Preschool has openings for 3 and 4 years olds.

The anticipated in-person start date is November 9, 2020. Please email Evelyn Maurer at evelyn.maurer@royaloakschools.org for more information, or stop by and pick up a packet. Information is also available on our website. Please note that the 4-year-old morning class is currently full. All others have openings.

Registration Happening Now

Register Now For Adult Ed & More

Churchill Community High School

Daytime Alternative High School program for students under the age of 20 as of September 1st of the current school year.

  • Days: Monday through Friday
  • School Calendar: A student can take a varying course load to earn 2.5-3.0 credits per trimester. Three trimesters are offered between September and May.
  • Potential new students, please call (248) 588-5050, Ext. 1502 to schedule an interview for admission.

Adult Education/Afternoon and Evening High School

Program for adults and high school age students age 16 and older who wish to complete the requirements for a high school diploma.

  • School Calendar: Classes are offered in three terms starting in September, January and April.
  • Class Times: Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday 3:00-9:15 p.m.
  • Classes begin September 14, 2020.

Online Registration is now open. There is a $25 Registration Fee for students 18+. All other costs are covered by a grant from the State of Michigan Testing Hours by appointment only. For more details and to complete your Get Started Registration forms online for adults 18+, please see www.royaloakschools.org/churchill-center/ You will be contacted with more information upon completion of the online forms. Please call (248) 588-5050, Ext. 1502 to make an appointment. Please do not come to our building without an appointment.

Tuition: Non-high school graduates who do not attend school during the day can take classes free of charge. Students who attend school during the day must pay a tuition fee for evening classes and bring a signed permission slip from their high school counselor that includes approved courses for the student to take.

English as a Second Language

For foreign born adults who are learning the English language. This class provides basic English vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, speaking, listening and culture through various media.

Classes are provided September through May as follows:

  • Daytime classes:
  • Beginner: Tuesday & Thursday, 8:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Intermediate: Monday & Wednesday, 8:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Advanced: Monday & Wednesday, 8:30-11:30 a.m.
  • ESL Plus: Tuesday & Thursday, 8:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Conversation: Canceled until further notice
  • Evening Classes: All levels are offered on Tuesday & Thursday evenings from 6:15-9:15 p.m.

Classes begin September 14, 2020. For further information, call (248) 588-5050, Ext. 1506.

Online Registration begins August 24, 2020. There is a $25 Registration Fee. All other costs are covered by a grant from the State of Michigan. Testing Hours by appointment only. For more details, and to complete registration forms online, please see www.royaloakschools.org/churchillcenter/esl/ You will be contacted with more information upon completion of the online forms. If you need assistance with forms, please call (248) 588-5050, Ext. 1502 to make an appointment. Please do not come to our building without an appointment.

G.E.D. Preparation

These courses are designed to prepare students for the G.E.D. test. Students are taught writing skills, math skills and essay writing. Test taking skills will also be taught.

Classes begin September 14. For further information, call (248) 588-5050, Ext. 1520.

Online Registration is open until March 15, 2021. There is a $25 Registration Fee for students 18+. All other costs are covered by a grant from the State of Michigan. Testing Hours by appointment only. For more details, and to complete your Get Started Registration forms online, please see www.royaloakschools.org/churchill-center/ You will be contacted with more information upon completion of the online forms. If you need assistance with forms, please call (248) 588-5050, Ext. 1502 to make an appointment. Please do not come to our building without an appointment. A mask is mandatory for entering the building. We will be screening people for illness. Please do not come to school if you have been exposed to the Coronavirus, feel sick, or have a fever.

Diversity News

ROS Board Members named to Oakland County Diversity and Inclusion Task Force

Deborah Anderson (L) and Maryanne VanHaitsma (R) have been named to the Oakland County School Boards Association Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Royal Oak Schools Board of Education members Deborah Anderson and Maryanne VanHaitsma have been named to the Oakland County School Boards Association Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. The committee’s mission is to help remove systemic barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in all Oakland County K-12 public schools. “The work of the countywide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee will complement our continued efforts at Royal Oak Schools to create a learning environment that promotes diversity and inclusion, prioritizes equity and fairness, and helps all students succeed,” said Mary Beth Fitzpatrick, Royal Oak Schools superintendent. “I am confident Deborah and Maryanne will return with fresh ideas and strategies that will help our continued efforts to provide a safe, nurturing and inclusive learning environment for all our students.”

The countywide committee’s goals are to:

  • Build understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion in K-12 education
  • Define barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in Oakland County schools
  • Share and highlight best practices for addressing diversity, equity and inclusion among Oakland County districts, and
  • Develop recommendations to the Oakland County School Boards Association board

“I am honored to work with my Oakland County colleagues to discuss and develop strategies to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the county’s K-12 public schools,” said Anderson, Royal Oak Schools board treasurer. “I am excited to draw on the experience and expertise of board members in other communities to help inform our continued efforts to address social equity at Royal Oak Schools.”

“At Royal Oak Schools, we have taken significant steps to achieve equity, inclusion and diversity in our buildings over the past four years with input from parents, students, community members and other stakeholders — and our work is far from done,” said VanHaitsma, ROS board secretary. “This task force provides a unique opportunity to learn new strategies and tactics from other Oakland County school leaders that will help our continued efforts to create an environment that promotes equity and fairness in our schools.”

The Cultural Competence Engagement Committee is open to all parents to join our efforts. If you are interested in joining the CCEC as we continue our work, please send an email of interest to Mr. Joe Youanes, Principal of Addams Elementary at joseph.youanes@royaloakschools.org

To learn more about the district's work to date and the work of the committee, please visit https://www.royaloakschools.org/community/forward-together/



The COVID-19 crisis has affected the way students share supplies in the classroom and prompted two Royal Oak High School seniors to come up with a plan to get supply kits in the hands of over 500 kindergarteners. Class of 2021 students, Nadia Weller and Danya Sahib, reached out to Royal Oak Schools with the idea of raising money and getting items donated for students.

“We knew we wanted to give back to the community before we graduated and we had plans of doing some kind of project, but when the coronavirus hit us, our plans were altered a bit,” said Weller and Sahib. “The opportunity presented itself when we saw that schools would be facing budget cuts. We immediately thought about how this would impact younger students in school and realized the use of shared supplies wouldn't be a possibility anymore.”

Their grassroots efforts are behind, "Kits 4 Kids," a donation drive for supplies for kindergarteners.

“It’ll be their first time at school and we wanted to make their new experience as comfortable as possible, especially now with the stress of the pandemic,” they said. “We didn’t want the parents and students to be any more stressed out over this new adaptation than they needed to be.”

Danya attended Edison Elementary as a kindergarten student, and Nadia went to Keller. That’s how Keller Elementary Principal Marcie Dryden got involved.

“I couldn't respond fast enough as I wanted to know more about why the girls wanted to take this action and, of course, how I could help bring their vision to fruition," said Principal Dryden. "The bonus part was that Nadia is a former student of mine from Keller so I was excited to know that what she learned about taking action from Keller didn't end at 5th grade. This was a true full circle moment for me and our staff. We are very proud of the girls.”

Then they needed approval from the district. Weller and Sahib said they were a little nervous talking to the Superintendent and other administrators at first, “But everyone was super nice and helpful, which made it so much easier,” they said.

“I was excited to learn more about this very helpful initiative," said Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick. "Nadia and Danya have been passionate about this project since our first conversation. They have taken charge of the details and I'm impressed with their enthusiasm, organization, and willingness to give back to Royal Oak Schools. We are extremely fortunate to have this project in our district as community members, parents, students and staff work together to support our kids.”

The ladies created a wishlist with the help of Principal Dryden. They researched the items needed and put together cost points to determine how much a kit of the supplies would cost per student. They created the marketing for the project, created a gofundme account for donations and an Amazon wishlist.

“Both of us have worked on fundraisers before, but nothing nearly this large,” said Weller and Sahib. “This is a very new thing to us, but we’re forever grateful for this new experience!”

The ladies are collecting the donations and making needed purchases for the student kits from the gofundme money. Then they will put together all of the donated items into usable, individual supply kits for kindergarteners for the fall. Their goal is to raise $5000 or to receive all of the items needed for the 525 kits.

The ladies will be attending Royal Oak High School in the fall and would both like to go into the STEM field, either exploring studies in Biology or Chemistry. Both ladies said that the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge adjustment in their lives. “Having this happen during the last part of our junior year was hard for us academically. Being isolated is hard for us all, so we were just glad we could start a project that emphasizes community and reminds everyone that we are all in this together.”



EduStaff is the district’s partner for substitute teachers, paraprofessionals and secretaries. If you are interested in learning more, please go to www.edustaff.org for information and to apply.

Individuals interested in working with and caring for school age children before and after school for our Young Oaks (Latchkey) Program should contact the Addams Early Childhood Center at (248) 288-3220.

For instructional and administrative positions, check the Oakland Schools Consortium portal at http://bit.ly/ROSJobs

If you have further questions, feel free to contact Beth Caverly at the District Offices: elizabeth.caverly@royaloakschools.org or (248) 435-8400 x1210.

There's always something going on at the district! Follow us on Facebook @RoyalOakSchools and Twitter @RoyalOakSchools and Instagram @roschools for more updates and other news. We also have videos posted on our YouTube page. Check the district website, too, for the latest information.

Speaking of Social Media - did you know that our School Board meetings are available online? So if there's a meeting you want to see, just head over to the Royal Oak Schools YouTube page to watch it.

Comments? Story ideas? Send them to: communications@royaloakschools.org

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The District Dispatch Mission: To inform all with an interest in the Royal Oak Schools community and deliver information straight to them through stories of our people, our successes and our future.


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