As I write this message, I can provide you with an update on current developments and also expand on some exciting news in the district. Our fall count day went well, but we are still down 18 students from last year, which translates into $131,000 less in state funding for Holt Schools. However, our K-6 fall parent-teacher conferences were well attended, which means we have very committed parents in our district. We also introduced electronic report cards for our 7th through 12th grade students that are now available to both parents and students.
As I think most of you know, our district is going through some significant changes. The state has reduced school funding and enrollment is declining – so we must look at our spending and how we educate the children and youth in our district. We choose not to slash and cut further into programs, as many districts are doing. Instead, we choose to reinvent our district, which allows us to prioritize and balance academic achievement and cost efficiency. We are committed to providing new opportunities for students –while showing we are good stewards of public funds by using existing resources effectively.
The Holt School District is starting an ambitious plan that includes adding Sycamore Elementary to the balanced (year-round) calendar, and turning Midway Elementary School into an Early Childhood Center. We know that early childhood education has an enormous impact on a student learner, so the district will focus resources for our youngest community members in one building.
In addition, we are developing a “North Campus” (currently the 9th Grade Campus) for our high school seniors that will prepare them for life beyond high school. Senior level classes will be moved across the street to the current 9th grade building and the 9th grade will shift to the 10-12 building (Holt High School Main Campus). This will give 9th graders the chance to really appreciate the importance of their time in high school, and will allow 12th graders to start earning college credits – at first through LCC, Davenport University and Olivet College at no cost. If college isn’t a student’s choice, he or she will be directed to other options such as a skills program. Equally important, these changes will allow us to focus academic resources on 9th through 11th grades and allow those students access to all content-specific classes sooner. This progressive structure will provide our young adults with the skills and confidence to succeed in a full range of postsecondary options, including a two- or four-year college, entry level career opportunities, formal job training, military service, certification programs or apprenticeships.
As Superintendent, one of the most difficult things about education is not the long hours, the endless work or the preparation, but knowing that everything I do matters. Without your support, we cannot reinvent the way we deliver education to the students of Holt Public Schools. We have a website dedicated specifically to provide information to parents and the community about the reinvention of our district: www.reinventingholtschools.org. Know that whatever challenges and decisions ahead, this district is committed to providing the best possible education for our children.
With warm regards,
Johnny A. Scott, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools