Important Messages/Updates

Internet Connectivity Resources (New April 4)

As a part of the district's remote learning plan, we are working on ways on another distribution event to ensure that all students who do not already have access to a learning device can get one.  Please check our website regularly for more information.

 

Internet connection at the Library

The Herrick District Library has set up their Wi-Fi signals to project out into their parking lots, where people are encouraged to work. 

Internet connection at the Holland Civic Center Place

The City of Holland has set up a high-speed Wi-Fi network anyone may connect to for free from the parking lot of Holland Civic Center Place. The Wi-Fi network is called MiHollandFreeWiFi and is accessible from the north lot. While the Civic Center building is closed to the public, the Wi-Fi may be used while parked in the lot. Overnight parking is prohibited by city ordinance, so hours are limited to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

At-home Internet Resources

Spectrum/Charter (FREE internet service for 2 months for students grades K-college): 1-866-866-4959

Spectrum Internet Hotspots (FREE)

Spectrum Internet Assist (LOW COST)

Xfinity Hotspots (FREE)

Internet Essentials from Comcast (LOW COST)

Access from AT&T (LOW COST)

AcenTek (Free broadband and WiFi internet access until June 1, 2020, to students and teachers who do not currently have internet service)

EveryoneOn (Find low-cost Internet and computers in your area)

Information About 2020 AP Exams (New April 3, 2020)

We recently received an email with the following updates about AP Exams
 from the Advanced Placement Program:

Exam Dates

Most AP teachers and students we surveyed prefer to test earlier, while the content is still fresh.

•Exams will be given from May 11–22.

•Makeup test dates will be available for each subject from June 1–5.

•Students can take exams at home or in schools, if they reopen.

•Each subject's exam will be taken on the same day at the same time, worldwide.

View the full testing schedule.

 

Exam Format

Most exams will have one or two free-response questions, and each question will be timed separately. Students will need to write and submit their responses within the allotted time for each question.

•Students will be able to take exams on any device they have access to—computer, tablet, or smartphone. They'll be able to type and upload their responses or write responses by hand and submit a photo via their cell phones.

•For most subjects, the exams will be 45 minutes long, plus an additional 5 minutes for uploading. Students will need to access the online testing system 30 minutes early to get set up.

•Certain courses—Art and Design: 2D; Art and Design: 3D; Computer Science Principles; Drawing; Research; and Seminar—will use portfolio submissions and will not have a separate online exam. All deadlines for these submissions have been extended to May 26, 2020, 11:59 p.m. ET. Teachers and students may receive separate course-specific communications.

•Students taking world language and culture exams will complete two spoken tasks consistent with free-response questions 3 and 4 on the current AP Exam. Written responses will not be required. We'll provide additional details in the coming weeks to help students prepare.


Tips for testing on specific devices will be available in late April.

Exam Scores and College Credit

As usual, students' work will be scored by our network of college faculty and AP teachers, and will be reported on a 1–5 scale. We anticipate releasing scores as close to the usual July timeframe as possible.

We're confident that the vast majority of higher ed institutions will award college credit as they have in the past. We've spoken with hundreds of institutions across the country that support our solution for this year's AP Exams.

Exam Security

Like many college-level exams, this year's AP Exams will be open book/open note. The exam format and questions are being designed specifically for an at-home administration, so points will not be earned from content that can be found in textbooks or online. However, students taking the exams may not consult with any other individuals during the testing period. We'll take the necessary steps to protect the integrity of each exam administration, as we do every year.

We're confident that the vast majority of AP students will follow the rules for taking the exams. For the small number of students who may try to gain an unfair advantage, we have a comprehensive and strict set of protocols in place to prevent and detect cheating. While some of these practices are confidential to maximize their effectiveness, students and education professionals can learn more about our security measures.

At a minimum, test takers should understand that those attempting to gain an unfair advantage will either be blocked from testing or their AP scores will be canceled, and their high school will be notified as will colleges or other organizations to which the student has already sent any College Board scores (including SAT® scores). And they may be prohibited from taking a future Advanced Placement® Exam as well as the SAT, SAT Subject Tests™, or CLEP® assessments.

Remote Instruction and Practice

On March 25, we began offering free live AP review courses, delivered by AP teachers from across the country. The courses have been viewed more than 3.2 million times since they became available. On-demand lessons are now available for Art and Design, AP Capstone™, and Computer Science Principles.

In addition to sharing information about these classes with students, teachers who are providing remote instruction can use AP Classroom for most subjects. We've now unlocked secure free-response questions in AP Classroom so teachers can digitally assign relevant practice questions students can take at home. Additional tips for helping your students practice are available.

For any additional information contact your AP Course instructor.

List of important community resources for your family during COVID-19 Pandemic. (Updated 4/3)

Physical, Medical or Safety Emergency:

9-1-1

Holland Hospital Emergency Department: (616)392-5141 (CALL FIRST)

Non Emergency Line for Holland Police Department: 1(800) 249-0911

Resilience Hotline (for Domestic Violence, Emergency Shelter). See how they can help by going to the webpage: Supporting Survivors Amid COVID-19 or call: 1(800)848-5991 For English,1(866)728-2131 for Spanish. 

 

Mental Health Crisis:

Community Mental Health 24 hour Hotline (616) 396-HELP (4357)

Community Mental Health Non Emergency Access Center: (616) 393-5681

Holland Behavioral Health: (616)335-3926

24 hour mental health crisis line: 1-866-512-4357 (Community Mental Health)

Crisis counselor text line (24/7, national service): text HOME to 741741 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Submit tip of criminal activity (OK2SAY):

General Information/Resources:

United Way (all general community resource inquiries): Call 2-1-1

COVID-19 Resources:

Michigan DHHS Coronavirus Hotline: 1-888-535-6136, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 7 days/week

Food Resources:

Interactive Food map. Search by address

Feeding America Food Trucks(HMS Food Truck 4/20 @4pm-open to all families and staff)

Community Action House

Ottawa Food

Michigan Unemployment Benefits 

Recent expansion of qualifiers due to COVID-19): 1-866-500-0017

Internet Resources:

Spectrum/Charter (FREE internet service for 2 months for students grades K-college): 1-866-866-4959

Spectrum Internet Hotspots (FREE)

Spectrum Internet Assist (LOW COST)

Xfinity Hotspots (FREE)

Internet Essentials from Comcast (LOW COST)

Access from AT&T (LOW COST)

Parent Resources

Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope With the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) 

Guía de ayuda para padres y cuidadores para ayudar a las familias a enfrentar la enfermedad Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)

How to talk to kids about Coronavirus

District response to Governor's Executive Order to cancel remainder of school year. (New: 4/2/20)

As you may have heard, today, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order No. 2020-35 officially closing all public and private K-12 schools for the remainder of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Holland Public Schools appreciates the assertive and decisive leadership of Governor Whitmer to protect the safety and well-being of our staff, students, and families. This is not easy for any of us, however, working together in simple, consistent, and collaborative ways, we will continue to provide support to our students and families for the remainder of the school year.

While there are still some questions about how this executive order will impact students and families of Holland Public Schools, here is what we understand today:

All HPS buildings will be closed. All playgrounds and recreational facilities will continue to be closed until further notice.  HPS will continue to provide weekday breakfast and lunch for kids 18 and under at our distribution sites around the district and for special needs students 26 and under. This will continue on Mondays/Wednesdays including during Spring Break.

HPS will provide a Remote Learning Program (RLP) for students through the remainder of the school year. These opportunities will likely include a combination of online learning support, printed/mailed lesson packets, telephone call support, social/emotional support, mental health services, health services, and/or local television programming.

A team from HPS has already been working with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District to establish what this learning model will look like. Our goal is to make this as simple and consistent as possible across the district for parents and students to navigate from our District Website. Additionally, we are looking at the possibility of established office hours during which staff will be available by phone, email, or in an online environment to assist students and parents.

Timeline: Here is the current timeline that we are working under:

  • April 6-10 HPS Spring Break-A team will continue working on the development of the Remote Learning Plan (RLP) for HPS. There will not be universal learning activities provided by the District. Food Distribution will continue.
  • April 13-17 Professional Staff Development and Communication to Parents on the RLP.
  • April 20-24 RLP will be activated for students to access.

HPS students will advance. High school seniors who were on pace to graduate on March 13, will graduate. We are working on opportunities for seniors to continue with their academic progression to prepare for post-secondary and career success. A student who was not on track to graduate will have opportunities to complete this work to bring them into on-track status.

Students in grades TK through 11th grade will advance to their next grade at the beginning of the next school year, assuming they were on pace to advance before the shutdown. For those students who were not on pace to advance, participation in the learning opportunities listed above will become very important. We will work with each family to credit recover or supplement learning as necessary to be as prepared as possible for the next school year. Some level of final exams may be provided, or other learning opportunities through project-based learning for students needing to demonstrate learning for advancement and graduation.

No student in K-11 may be penalized per the Executive Order for not completing work or receiving a grade. However, it is very important that students and parents understand that any learning activities not attempted the rest of this school year will have an impact on their success next year. TK will transition to K. Please do what you can to support the learning that will be provided through our RLP at home. We are still working on what this means for course level advancement. We are also still working on CR/NC vs. receipt of a grade.

Current high school juniors will be given an opportunity next fall to take the SAT. The PSAT will be given in the fall as well so that we can assess the progress of student learning needs.

Michigan’s third-grade reading law, which recommends third-graders who are more than a year behind in reading be retained in third grade, will not be enforced this year.

Here is what we are still working on:

We will work with families to do all we can to provide a reliable connection to the internet and a device to be used for online learning opportunities. If you need assistance with connectivity or your student still needs access to a device, please call your school office by April 6. We are looking at a second device distribution opportunity.

In anticipation of today’s announcement, and as a way to honor the Class of 2020, we’ve already started working on plans for an alternative graduation ceremony this summer. And if possible, we hope to host end of year picnics or parties for our schools and classrooms to bring closure to the school year and to collect any personal items at school. Stay tuned!

We are working to finalize the RLP (see above).

Here’s what you can do:

Stay at home. The only way to “flatten the curve” and stop the spread of this virus is to limit contact with one another.

Stay connected with the district by regularly checking our website, our Facebook page, or on my twitter account. When necessary, we’ll also continue to send district-wide emails and text-alerts.

Be patient as we embark on this new learning platform with you. We know that this is new for everyone and we will work together to simplify as much as possible as to not overwhelm each other.

Thank you for your time and support. We are here to walk with you and support you.

Brian Davis 
Superintendent of Schools

 

A Letter to the Class of 2020 (updated 3.31.20)

Dear Class of 2020 Parents and Students,

The high school administration and I are reaching out to you today to address some of the many questions, concerns, and anxiety that you have relative to your senior year at Holland High School. We both understand and appreciate the importance of your senior year and the negative impact that the COVID-19 Pandemic is having.

Please know that we are going to do everything that we possibly can with guidance from the Michigan Department of Education and State Legislature to maximize as much of the learning, celebrations, and commencement as possible. Our hearts go out to you knowing that there will sadly be some things that may not happen.

Here is what we know and can share today: 

Commencement, at this point in time, is still scheduled for Tuesday, May 26 for Holland High School/Holland Early College students and Monday, June 1, for HVRT students. We are currently in the process of looking at alternative dates/locations for graduation if we need to reschedule these events. This also includes Convocation and “Senior March.”

In a conversation earlier this week with Dr. Michael Rice, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, he indicated that we will likely receive guidance from the Michigan Department of Education and Governor this week with respect to graduation requirements. This will likely be a local district decision based upon the state required Michigan Merit Curriculum, and HPS Board of Education graduation requirements.  In short summary, if a student was on track to graduate from Holland High School as of March 13, 2020, he/she will still be able to graduate. 

We do not yet know how credit will be reported or grades established for any remote/distance learning for the remainder of the year at this time in the event that school does not resume April 13, 2020.

As this is impacting all high schools across the state/country, the college/university and employee setting will also need to shift regarding the requirements for admittance or employment. Try not to worry about this at this time.

For students who were not on track to graduate, we are looking at what summer school credit recovery options may be available.

We will continue to provide updates to our Class of 2020 as we receive information that we know is as solid as possible and not likely to change. In the interim, if you have any questions, needs, or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to your high school counselor, one of your teachers, or ourselves. We are here to help you. 

Dr. Brian Davis 
Katie Pennington 
Josh Rumpsa 
Andrea Mehall 
Zach Kapla

Spanish Version: Watch this video for the latest information about school closings due to COVID-19 (updated Friday, March 27):

Spanish Version: Watch this video for the latest information about school closings due to COVID-19 (updated Friday, March 27):

An English version of this video is available on our homepage or on YouTube

Social & Emotional Support Resources (Updated 3/25)

Talking with Children about COVID-19

 

General Well-Being and Mental Health:

 

What if I Need Help for Myself or my Child?

  • Michigan Crisis Hotline: Dial 211
  • Network 180 Access Center: (616) 336-3535
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Meal Services during COVID-19 closing (Updated Friday, March 23)

Meal Services during COVID-19 closing

(Updated Friday, March 23)

On March 23, Governor Whitmer enacted a Stay at Home order for non-essential activities in Michigan.

Holland schools will continue to provide breakfast and lunch for children 18-years old and younger during this order.  

Meals will continue to be made available Mondays and Wednesday 9-11am at the following locations:

  • Park Christian Reformed Church - 1496 West 32nd Street
  • St Francis de Sales Catholic Church - 171 W 13th St
  • Providence Church - 821 Ottawa Ave
  • Christ Memorial - 595 Graafschap
  • Stratford Way Apartments - 450 Stratford Way
  • Meadowlanes Townhomes - 287 Meadow Lane Dr.
  • Harbor Village Apartments - 287 West 40th Street
  • Crown Point Apartments - 1180 Matt Urban Drive
  • Maple Ave Church & Ministries - 427 Maple Ave
  • Hope Church - 77 West 11th Ave
  • BLVD Church - 238 West 15th Street
  • Trinity Reformed - 712 Apple Avenue
  • Calvary Church on 8th - 995 E 8th St
  • Lincoln Estates Mobile Home Park - 1139 Lincoln Ave
  • Willow Park Mobile Home Park - 1055 Lincoln Ave
  • Ridge Point Community Church - 340 104th Ave
  • First Reformed Church - 630 State Street
  • Greenbriar Apartments - 121 S. Waverly Rd

  • Bay Pointe Apartments - 791 E. 16th St. 

Monday's deliveries will consist of two days of breakfast and two days of lunch. Wednesday's deliveries will consist of three days of breakfast and three days of lunch.

A parent may pick up meals for children in their home 18 and under. Students do not have to attend with their parents. We welcome any family in our community to participate. 

 

 

K-8 iPad and Chromebook Distribution. Updated March 23, 2020

In anticipation of a school closure that might now extend after spring break, HPS wants to provide resources (beyond what has already been sent home) to families as you work to support learning at home. 

This week, K-8 students will be issued a Chromebook or iPad to take home for the duration of the school closing.

  • Distribution dates/time are March 23 from 10am- 2:00 pm and 4-6p.m at West, Jefferson and Holland Heights Elementary Schools & Holland Middle School. (If your student attends HLA, and still does not have access to a school-issued iPad, please contact the school.)
  • Parents will need to come to school to pick up their devices unless a barrier or other situation prevents this. HPS students do not need to come with you. We will be doing our best to accommodate everyone's needs. Please note devices will be sent home for only HPS students. 
  • We will be doing both curb-side and walk-up pick up during these times so you do not have to leave your car. We ask that you please do not congregate in groups at the front entrance of the school and practice social distancing.
  • Please plan on showing some form of identification as a parent/guardian in your home if not immediately recognized by an HPS staff member. 
  • Parents will be asked to sign an acceptable use policy on behalf of their students as well as an understanding of the use of the device in the home and responsibility for any loss or damages.
  • Please note that these school devices, once signed on to, will connect through the HPS internet server, filtering content in the same manner as if the device was being used in school. 
  • The participation in this learning opportunity is completely voluntary and will not impact a child's grade advancement or grade reporting for this school year. 
  • If you have connection issues with the device, please email our HelpDesk team. Please be as descriptive as possible when describing your issue so they can begin working on a fix for your problem.
  • We have identified district-wide grade level teachers who will be posting and sharing instructional activities by grade level K-5 and content area 6-8. We are also looking to address music, art, P.E., and STEM activities where possible. In addition, we will be sharing public access extended learning opportunities. We are also working on ways to accommodate our second language learners and any special education student who has needs to the best degree possible.
  • Information will be posted to our district website with learning opportunities.
  • We will establish collection dates at a later time if school should be canceled for a longer duration than currently in place. 

Spring Break or Other Travel Recommendations - Updated March 20

Spring Break or Other Travel Recommendations

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Holland Public Schools, as well as schools across the region, has been receiving questions from families regarding spring break travel plans and how they might impact their student’s ability to return to school once schools re-open.  
At this time, HPS, along with Ottawa County Department of Public Health, strongly recommend that families consider CDC advisories as they relate to personal travel. The following considerations may be found on their website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html 
Things to consider before travel: 

  • Is COVID-19 spreading in the area where you’re going? If COVID-19 is spreading at your destination, but not where you live, you may be more likely to get infected if you travel there than if you stay home. If you have questions about your destination, you should check your destination’s local health department website for more information.
  • Will you or your travel companion(s) be in close contact with others during your trip? Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like coronavirus may increase in crowded settings, particularly closed-in settings with little air circulation. This may include settings such as conferences, public events (like concerts and sporting events), religious gatherings, public spaces (like movie theatres and shopping malls), and public transportation (like buses, metro, trains).
  • Are you or your travel companion(s) more likely to get severe illness if you get COVID-19? People at higher risk for severe disease are older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes). CDC recommends that travelers at higher risk for COVID-19 complications avoid all cruise travel and nonessential air travel.
  • Do you have a plan for taking time off from work or school, in case you are told to stay home for 14 days for self-monitoring or if you get sick with COVID-19? If you have close contact with someone with COVID-19 during travel, you may be asked to stay home to self-monitor and avoid contact with others for up to 14 days after travel. If you become sick with COVID-19, you may be unable to go to work or school until you’r e considered noninfectious. You will be asked to avoid contact with others (including being in public places) during this period of infectiousness.
  • Do you live with someone who is older or has a serious, chronic medical condition? If you get sick with COVID-19 upon your return from travel, your household contacts may be at risk of infection. Household contacts who are older adults or persons of any age with severe chronic medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Is COVID-19 spreading where I live when I return from travel? Consider the risk of passing COVID-19 to others during travel, particularly if you will be in close contact with people who are older adults or have severe chronic health condition These people are at higher risk of getting very sick. If your symptoms are mild or you don’t have a fever, you may not realize you are infectious.

Following these guidelines is particularly important for those who may have compromised immune systems that make exposure to COVID-19 a higher risk. While this may not describe you or your family, carrying the virus may have significant impact on other school families and community members. We are taking direction regarding school attendance from our local health department and the CDC. 
 

Please know we are doing our absolute best to promote the health and safety of our students, school families and staff and continue to monitor updates from the CDC and our local health officials as we navigate challenging questions raised about international and domestic travel. 


We ask for your patience, flexibility, and understanding during this unprecedented time.


Stay healthy,
Dr.  Brian Davis 
Superintendent-Holland Public Schools

Paul A. Heidel, MD, MPH Medical Director Ottawa County Department of Public Health

Great Learning Resources (K-8) Updated 3.15.20

Great Learning Resources (K-8).

Our School Improvement team has put together a great list of learning resources for you and your student during the COVID-19 closing. 

Overview of Daily Activities

Encourage your student to complete these fun learning activities!

  • READING: 30 minutes each day
  • MATH: 15-30 minutes each day
  • SOCIAL STUDIES: Choose one topic each day
  • SCIENCE: Choose one topic each day
  • WRITING: Reflect on learning from each activity

Follow this link to learn more about these free and educational websites to keep your student engaged during this clsoing.

 

 

Answering your Questions about the COVID-19 Closings (Updated March 15, 2020)

Answering your Questions about the COVID-19 Closings (updated March 15, 2020)

We know you have so many questions about what’s happening with COVD-19 and how it will impact your family. The Governor’s announcement closing all K-12 schools in Michigan for the next three weeks likely stirred up another round of questions. While some of this information could change, we wanted to reach out to you and answer some of the questions we know you have.

Again, please know that some of the information here could change quickly. The best way to stay informed about how the COVID-19 closings are impacting families at Holland Public Schools is to:

  • Regularly visit www.hollandpublicschools.org for updates
  • Follow us on facebook
  • Watch for emails from the district
  • Sign up for our mobile text alerts

If any of the answers to the questions below should change, we will let you know.

What about Spring Break?

Unless mandated by the State of Michigan, Holland Public Schools will NOT be changing Spring Break (April 3-10).  As of now, our first day back at school will be Monday, April 13.

Will the school year be extended?

Maybe. If we are required to make-up these days (another decision that will be made at the state level), we would likely do so at the end of the year. It might be a good idea to look ahead and to start adjusting your calendar if necessary.

Will my student have homework to complete during the closing?

You can expect that your child’s teacher will stay in touch with students electronically over the break. Additionally, they will likely send home some resources, reading, or exercises to keep students engaged in learning during the break. While these materials will NOT be counted toward their final grade, we hope you will encourage your child to complete them. 

During this break, we encourage students to continue reading at least 15-minutes a day.

Finally, our School Improvement team is putting together a list of education resources that will help you keep your child engaged in learning for the next few weeks.

Detroit Public Television to Provide Educational Programming

Detroit Public TV, in partnership with community educators and in collaboration with PBS stations across Michigan, will be providing educational programming and associated digital resources that adhere to Michigan’s state curriculum to foster at-home learning across all grade levels.

As many of you know, Detroit Public TV and PBS educational programming and resources have been shown by multiple evaluations to be effective tools for teachers and parents. They are curriculum-based by state, and they have been classroom-tested by teachers.

The Detroit PBS KIDS Channel (56.2) is available 24 hours a day seven days a week with kids’ favorite shows – Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Arthur, Pinkalicious and Peterrific, Wild Kratts, Odd Squad and many others. The programming also can be accessed on the Detroit PBS KIDS website and on the PBS KIDS app, available for free on a wide range of platforms.

 Detroit Public TV will also be providing daily communications with suggestions for content, activities and learning opportunities through newsletters and social media, as well as at DPTV.org and DetroitPBSKIDS.org. Please share these materials with your organizations and communities as well.

To sign up for the newsletter visit Detroit Public TV’s website.

Will the district be providing food to students and families?

Yes! HPS will be providing food delivery on Monday/Wednesday at Lincoln Estates, Willow Park, Meadowlanes, Crown Pointe and several other area churches (Park Church, St. Francis Church, Providence Church, Christ Memorial, Heights of Hope, Maple Ave. Ministry, Bldv Church, Calvary, and Ridgepoint) to cover our school district. Food picked up on Monday will be for two days. Wednesday’s pick up will cover the rest of the week M-F. Food can be picked up between 9:00-11:00 a.m. A parent may pick up meals for children in their home 18 and under. Students do not have to attend with their parents. We welcome any family in our community to participate. 

Kids Food Basket is partnering to provide sack suppers and Hand2Hand weekend supplies. 

Will the Vocal Dimensions performances still happen?

Vocals on Broadway will be rescheduled and tickets that have already been purchased for the show will be honored for the rescheduled performances. If a ticket-holder is unable to attend the rescheduled performance, they will be offered a refund or an opportunity to donate to the High School Choir program.

How will this impact athletics team practices/games?

Practices and team activities will be held as scheduled on Friday, March 13th. Beginning Saturday, March 14th, all athletic related activities (games, practices, workouts — indoors and outdoors) are suspended until further notice.  We will continue to evaluate as additional information is available.

Will the district office remain open?

Yes! District offices will remain open Monday through Thursday so that key functions of the district can continue and to serve as a communication-hub for families.

Will the district provide medical or counseling support during this time?

The District is able to provide basic medical referrals to you. We encourage families to directly contact your family doctor, the emergency room, urgent care, or the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. We are working on a plan with our counseling and social work team to provide ongoing counseling support to our students and families who rely upon these services during the school year. 

There are great resources for managing anxiety and stress during this time, what to watch for in your children and resources of how to talk to them through the CDC here.

Is there anything I can do?

Yes! We’ve already heard from so many people who want to know how they can help out during this closing. One of the best things we can all do is be a great neighbor: find creative ways to offer a helping hand to your neighbors (without sharing germs). And we could also use help delivering meals to our students and families. Watch the website, social media, or emails for a sign up sheet to help out with food services.


Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time. If nothing else, this public health crisis is an opportunity for us to demonstrate that Holland is a community that looks out for one another and cares for one another. The next few weeks could be difficult on us all, but as a community we will come out stronger than before.

As always, thank you for supporting Holland Public Schools.

Brian Davis
Superintendent

Special Education & 504 Plan Student Information (Updated Friday, March 13)

Special Education & 504 Plan Student Information (Updated Friday, March 13)

The office of Student Services is currently open and will provide regular updates to parents & students as information becomes available.  Your child’s special education needs, civil rights, and disability rights are our top concerns at this time. 

Please see this Q&A document from the Office of Special Education that provides answers regarding the provision of special education programming and related services, homebound and hospital bound supports and services, as well as 504 plan accommodations during this extended break. 

Both teachers and therapists may be reaching out to you regarding specific information on upcoming IEP meetings, 504 plan meetings,  and or evaluations. As a result of the closure, these activities may either be postponed or held via phone or virtual meeting format.  You may be asked to sign information releases or evaluation extensions depending on circumstances. We ask for your patience and understanding as we work through this in partnership with you.  

Lastly, our amazing team is busy creating resources and information that can be referenced from home and will hopefully help support your individual student’s needs from home.  This information can be found here.


 

COVID-19 March 12, 2020 Update

COVID-19 March 12, 2020 Updated 3.12.20 11:30 p.m.

Governor Whitmer has ordered the closure of all PreK-12 schools in the State of Michigan through April 6, 2020, beginning on Monday, March 16. School will be open on Friday, March 13, 2020, in order to prepare students for this extended leave to exit HPS with the best hope and reduction of fear. 

At this time the Governor stated that schools need to return on April 6, 2020. This impacts the spring break of HPS. We will address this as soon as possible with the Governor's office recognizing the many travel plans of families and staff. 

****

March 12, 2020 5:00 p.m.

HPS Announces Plans through April 2, 2020 

I apologize for the length of this communication in advance. It is my hope that we are able to answer as many questions as they are known at this time.

We are incredibly appreciative of our staff’s hard work and commitment to our students and families during these unsettling times. Additionally, we are thankful for the support being provided as we endeavor to keep our students, staff, families, community partners, and volunteers safe and informed through this ever-evolving situation. We continue to partner with public health officials to make decisions based on the safety, health, and well-being of everyone involved. Your continued patience and flexibility during this unprecedented time is deeply appreciated.

The Ottawa Area ISD has assembled a COVID-19 Response Team which is meeting frequently with Ottawa County Department of Public Health officials, other ISDs across the state, and leaders from local public school districts, public school academies, and non-public schools to collaborate on processes and decision-making with a goal of limiting the spread of the virus. We are discussing collaboratively how to implement the recommendations put forth by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services during last night’s press conference with Governor Whitmer.  

Our immediate plan for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in our communities while advancing student learning is based on three factors:

1.  Avoiding unnecessary exposure of our staff and students to illness.

2.  Working to the best of our ability to ensure the continuity of teaching and learning in the Ottawa area.

3.  Protecting the health and well-being of our multigenerational community, especially those who are most vulnerable to illness.

The recommendations put forth by MDHHS for community groups and organizations include canceling or postponing large gatherings or athletic events with more than 100 people in attendance or fewer if possible. Along with other schools in our region, Holland Public Schools will work toward reducing group sizes or modifying/canceling events when possible, recognizing that each situation will need to be evaluated individually. Please understand we do not make these decisions lightly. We recognize extracurricular activities and events are a rich part of the school experience for students. These decisions are being made in consultation with the Ottawa County Health Department, the Michigan Department of Education, and the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, as this is a public health emergency and we must follow their guidance.

At this time, we are remaining fluid as we evaluate cancellation or postponement of events and activities between now and spring break, keeping in mind that we are operating in a fast-evolving situation that changes nearly by the hour.

As we prepare for all possible scenarios, we are asking you to develop a plan for your family in the event schools were to close for an extended period of time. We are taking COVID-19 very seriously and hope that with your help, we can mitigate the spread of this virus in the Ottawa region.  Please follow the recommendations to wash your hands, stay home when you are sick, and practice good hygiene.

Here is what this means for Holland Public Schools effective March 13, 2020. This is effective through April 2, 2020. We will be reviewing the status of events prior to Spring Break. Please know that this information is true and accurate to the best of our ability as of 5:00 p.m. Thursday, March 12, 2020.

  • School Closure: At this time, ALL HPS buildings remain open. If a decision is made to close an individual building or the district, our procedures for a snow-day cancelation will take place. This will happen based upon the recommendations of the County Health Officials. The spread of COVID-19 is a fast-evolving situation that changes hour by hour. The Ottawa County Department of Public Health recommends schools operate as usual until directed otherwise. Ottawa Area ISD remains in close and regular communication with the OCDPH and other partners to monitor the situation and will send updates as necessary. 
  • Attendance: OCDPH encourages parents of students with high-risk conditions or fragile immune systems to have a conversation with their pediatrician and school staff regarding school attendance and preventative measures. Under the consultation of a physician, students will be excused under our attendance guidelines. 
  • Field Trips: All field trips are canceled or suspended through April 2, 2020. This includes trips/activities during the school day and on the weekends. This includes our Co-Op/Community-Based programs, special education Community Based Instruction (CBI) programs, Rotary Interact etc. and all general education programs. We will be reviewing field trips scheduled after April 2, 2020, including out of state field trips, on March 19, 2020, for further consideration.
  • Careerline Tech Center: At this time, students will still participate in the Career-line tech center programs at the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District.
  • Ottawa Area Center: This program remains open at this time.
  • Holland Early College: Davenport University recently announced that they will be suspending in-person classes through the remainder of the Winter 2020 semester. This will not impact 9th graders who are taking INTD 100 with Mr. VanHarmelen at HEC, nor will it impact our 10th graders who are taking COMM 120 with DU Professor Sharbo at HHS.  Both of those courses are scheduled to continue as normal. The greatest impact will be felt by our 11th-13th year students, who are accustomed to taking live-taught courses on the DU campus.  Each individual professor will make the decision as to whether they move forward with an online or real-time virtual format. We will know more by Monday, March 16, regarding each professor’s decision of method of delivery and/or classroom expectations.  
  • Volunteers: We will be suspend the use of volunteers in our schools in an effort to contain the spread of the virus as much as possible. We recognize and appreciate the many community-based organizations that help in supporting our schools. During this time, we are taking a pro-active step to prevent the spread of the virus as much as possible. This applies to parent-volunteers.
  • After School Events/Performances: All concerts, performances or events (excluding athletics at this time) are canceled with the potential to be rescheduled. This includes Vocal Dimensions, middle school concerts, literacy nights, special PTO events etc. After school extra-curricular activities that involve practices will continue.
  • Assemblies: School-wide assemblies will not take place.
  • Athletics: We will follow the guidance of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. MHSAA At this time, HPS will continue to conduct practices for Spring sports. We are in the process of evaluating attendance at spring sport competitions. All Winter MHSAA Post-Season Tournaments are suspended effective immediately per the MHSAA.
  • Facility Rentals: All non-HPS facility rentals have been canceled effective March 13, 2020. No new requests are being taken at this time. 
  • HLA Parent Meeting March 26 will be rescheduled.

In the event of a school closure:

  • Instructional Delivery: While adult and higher education institutions may already offer or are able to transition coursework to online delivery, the primary form of instructional delivery for most pre-K through 12 students is largely face-to-face.  In the event of a school closing, we are committed to providing quality learning experiences for students and are working to determine which educational resources could continue to be available to parents and students during the interim. This will be done in a way to ensure equity, adequacy, and access. We are in the process of exploring what an extended school closure could mean for providing instructional support for students who are scheduled to take Advanced Placement tests this spring.
  • Child-Care Contingency Plans: As the first school in Michigan has closed, it is important that parents begin the process of developing a plan should school have to cancel for an extended period of time. We recognize that limiting or closing school may put a strain on working families. Unfortunately, the District is unable and will not be providing child-care services.
  • Food/Nutrition: Should we happen to close schools, we recognize that many students rely upon the district for breakfast and lunch.  We are working collaboratively to ensure that students continue to have access to healthy, school-sponsored meals. This may take the form of designated access points throughout the district, or specific outreach to families.

Spring Break Travel: If you are traveling to an identified Level 3 Country or state (Iran, Italy, China, South Korea or others as the list continues to grow) we ask that you share your travel plans with your school administrator prior to Spring Break. We will be assessing the need to limit the return back to school in consultation with local health officials. Please know that we are not trying to invade on anyone's privacy, rather, working to keep everyone as safe as possible. 

Community Partners: We are asking that our community partnerships make their own decisions relative to the continued after school programming made available to students such as Boys & Girls Club, CASA, First Tee, Girls on the Run, Boy/Girls Scouts, Young Life etc.

If you have specific questions about how this information applies to your family, we ask that you contact your school office for clarification.

Again, thank you for your grace, patience, and understanding during this unprecedented time in public education and public health.

Dr. Brian Davis

COVID-19 March 11, 2020 Update

District officials continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on local, state, and national operations. 

This afternoon, Superintendent Davis participated in a conference call with lead physicians with the Ottawa Department of Public Health and Department of Health & Human Services. This meeting was facilitated by Dr. Paul Heidel, Medical Director of the ODPH. The current public policy approach and advisement for preK-12 school districts is one of the least restrictive as possible. They will recommend the closure of schools only if there is an imminent danger or the need to reduce transmission risk of the COVID-19 disease. This is in part due to the number of known cases in the state of Michigan currently at two, and no known cases at this time in Ottawa County. 

WHAT IS KNOWN 

  • The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified and causes a respiratory illness ranging from a mild cold-like illness to severe pneumonia.
  • More than 80% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in China had mild disease.
  • Similar to influenza, the people who are most likely to have severe disease and complications from COVID-19 are older individuals (>60 years old) and those with other medical conditions like heart and lung disease or diabetes.
  • There is no vaccine or treatment currently available for COVID-19.
  • As of March 11, 2020, there are 2 presumptive positive COVID-19 cases in Michigan. At this time, cases are in Wayne and Oakland Counties.
  • As of March 11, 2020, there is NO confirmed community spread of COVID-19 in Ottawa County, but experts predict there will eventually be community spread.

HOW THE VIRUS SPREADS

  • COVID-19 is believed to spread primarily the same way the common cold or flu spreads—through respiratory droplets that are produced when someone coughs or sneezes.
  • People who are most at risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 are those who have been in close contact (within about 6 feet) with someone who has the disease.
  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread of the virus might be possible before a person has symptoms, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

As a result, Prek-12 school operations in Holland and the State of Michigan are operating on a normal schedule.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has also advised that all sporting events and practices remain in operation as well.

We are aware that many post-secondary institutions have made decisions to suspend in-person activities on campus. The preK-12 school community will be taking the direction from the ODPH and/or the Governor's Office on any school closures.

At this time, as an added safety precaution, I do however recommend that any family who has a medically fragile child contact their pediatrician or family doctor for advisement on the best course of action to take with regard to school attendance and additional safety precautions. If a decision is made by your physician not to attend school at this time for medically fragile situations, please provide a doctor's note in this regard to the school office noting the amount of time the child will not be in attendance and these absences will be excused. If you have a child who receives specific IEP'd services through special education in this regard, please contact Jennifer Headley-Nordman, Associate Superintendent for Student Services, at 494-2100. Our school nurses at each building are also able to assist.

I also know many of you have plans to travel over spring break. We will continue to seek feedback from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ODPH regarding those that travel and return to our district. While we know these are decisions you will have to make as a family, please know our priority is to keep our district a safe environment for our staff and students. At this point, we have not been instructed by the CDC or the Ottawa County Health Department to alter any school-sponsored trips or events.

We will keep you posted in the coming days and weeks as information regarding this virus evolves rapidly. We will continue to use this web page for updates, instant alert messages, and district email. I too appreciate and understand the anxiety that this current situation presents and the inability to escape discussion/news in this regard. Please know that we are sharing everything that we know at this time and any phone calls to district offices will be directing you back to our district web page designated for communication of what is known.

Thank you,

Dr. Brian Davis

Coronavirus and Conferences - A Handshake-free Zone (Updated March 10, 2020)

Message to parents...keeping you informed,

In our continued efforts to keep everyone healthy during the flu season and the possible onset of COVID-19, we all need to do what we can to keep students and staff engaged in the learning process while mitigating the spread of infections.

As you consider visiting the school office or attending parent-teacher conferences, we ask that you consider the following simple actions that can help.

  • Remain at home if you are sick. We are happy to respond to emails, set up google hangouts, conference calls etc. to keep you informed of your child's progress.
  • Recognize that our normal greetings of handshakes will be greeted by a warm smile and hello. 
  • According to public health officials, the way COVID-19 is spread is very similar to the flu and common colds. For this reason, we are encouraging our students and staff to actively wash their hands and take all of the same precautions they would normally take to avoid these illnesses. Please encourage and follow the same at home and during your visits to our schools.
  • Learning at our high school and in some cases middle school primarily occurs inside classrooms with face-to-face teaching by certified instructors using interactive technology tools. Any guidance on administering and recovering the learning that may be lost during a potential school closing will come from the Michigan Department of Education. We will continue to use Google Classroom and other existing platforms to communicate with students.
  • We remain sensitive to implicit biases that may be associated with the virus. All members of our school community have the right to be safe, valued, and respected.

We continue to collaborate with state organizations, the CDC, and local health departments to evaluate additional precautions and responses that might direct us to change from our normal school day operations. This is inclusive of both in/out of state field trips.

Thank you,

This has been a message from Holland Public Schools.

Warm Regards,

Superintendent Brian Davis

Follow me on Twitter @bdavisHPS

Holland Public Schools-Right for Me!

District Preparations for Coronavirus (Covid-19) Updated 3.10.2020

Holland Public Schools is aware of a self-quarantine of a student at Hope College. At this time PATH and CASA programs continue to run on a normal schedule. Hope College is on Spring Break next week, PATH will continue to run during their Spring recess.

There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 strain of the Coronavirus. We understand the growing concerns that families have about this virus and want to be as transparent as possible; sharing information about what Holland Public Schools is doing to prepare for the possibility of an outbreak in the area. 

As recent as Tuesday, March 10, 2020, Superintendent Davis has been in conversation with the Ottawa County Health Department. 

We are working with the OCDPH and are prepared to respond with their action-plan should a case come to Ottawa County, the City of Holland, and/or Holland Public Schools that requires action on our part. We saw a similar collaboration with OCDPH work a few weeks ago when West Elementary was closed due to an increase in the number of absences brought on by flu-like illnesses. Closing the school helped prevent the further spread of the illness and gave sick students time to recover. It also gave crews time to sanitize the building before students returned to their classrooms.

As a district, we are fortunate to have school nurses and health aides in each of our buildings to monitor students and to report on illness-related absences. They are also a tremendous resource to help educate our students and community about hygiene practices that can help prevent the spread of any virus:

  • Remain at home if you are sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you or your child has a fever, you/they should stay home.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap is NOT available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cough into the crook of your arm or cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid at this time shaking of hands, fist bumps and the like.

In addition, Holland Public Schools has directed our cleaning crews to be especially vigilant over the next few months in the cleaning of frequently touched surfaces: doorknobs, desk and table tops, drinking fountains and bathrooms.

It is important that we all remain calm. It is also important that we are doing all we can to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus should it make its way to West Michigan. The Ottawa County Health Department has some great resources on their website to learn more about COVID-19 and to get tips on helping to prevent the spread of the virus.

As with any district alerts or emergencies, we will utilize our Instant Alert telephone text messaging service, our Infinite Campus email, and District Facebook/Twitter accounts to push information out to families. In the interim, school activities and learning continue to take place on a normal operating schedule. 

With regard to field trips both in/out of state, we will continue to monitor these on a case-by-case basis. 

If you come into contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, we ask that you work with your doctor and health officials regarding a self-quarantine. If you or child have been exposed like this and are under self-quarantine, we ask that you kindly share that with us at school. At this point in time, we are unaware as a district of any staff member, volunteers, contractors, or students who have been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. 

We will be providing additional information and precautionary measures as we enter into Spring Break given the number of individuals who may be traveling.

If you have any additional questions regarding your child's health, please feel free to contact your school office and speak with our school nurse or health aides from Holland Hospital. 

District PSD-November 1, 2019

District Professional Staff Development

This is a friendly reminder that there will be no school this Friday, November 1, 2019, as our teachers and administrators participate in professional staff development. This is new to our calendar this school year and we appreciate our school community understanding the importance of ongoing training and support for our staff to ensure that we are meeting the needs of each child in our school programs.

Here is a brief summary of some of the many activities that will be taking place on Friday.

  • All staff will be continue their learning and understanding on equity and inclusion as we continue our work with Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. and Dr. Penick-Parks. We continue to assess our own personal understanding of institutional racism and the implicit bias that can exist in any organization that unintentionally or intentionally marginalizes students. 
  • Our focus on early literacy continues with our elementary teachers focusing on the teaching of small group instruction. This is important to make sure that each child receives instruction at his/her level. This is part of our ongoing work embedding the principles of the Reading Now Network into our curriculum and instructional practices.
  • Our elementary teachers will also participate in GIANTS (Geographic Inquiry and New Temporal Sequencing in Social Studies) training. Simply, this is our preparation to implement new social studies curriculum into our program. We are excited that Joy Kooyer, 3rd grade teacher at West Elementary, will assist in leading this learning as she is a co-writer of this new curriculum state-wide. This curriculum is already being used in grades 6-12.
  • Jill Wallaker, our district math coach, will continue training with our teachers in grades 3-5 on the critical math standards necessary for student success.
  • Teachers in grades 6-8 will be diving into their students' state data to unpack what we are doing well and what needs targeted focus. Specifically we will be looking at why some students perform better than others as it relates to socio-economic status and ethnicity. We are working hard to lift the performance of all students while narrowing the achievement gap.
  • Middle school teachers will also work on literacy standards and WAC (Writing Across the Curriculum).
  • We are excited that students from Student Leaders Initiating Change (SLIC) will be working with our 9-12 teachers to talk about continued efforts to promote equity within our high school classrooms and programs. We have learned recently the importance of student voice in creating a culture where all feel a sense of belonging and have equitable access to our core and extra-curricular programming. Staff will then be diving deep into their student achievement data through the lens of equity.
  • Our music teachers will have an opportunity to review their curriculum and assess the implementation and outcomes from our new program implemented recently.
  • Our special education staff will continue training on the importance of family engagement in the development of Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and a new software system to manage all of this important data.

As you can hopefully see, this work is related to our three district priorities:

  • Literacy Pre-13: All students will be able to read and write well and independently at grade level.
  • Social Competency-All students will be afforded powerful learning opportunities in safe, secure, and predictable learning environments.
  • Instructional Pedagogy-All staff will demonstrate professional growth in the use of formative assessment and differentiated instruction for instructional design.

Thank you again for your support of our continued efforts to support our staff in their work and why HPS is right for them, which in turn improves student outcomes and why HPS is right for your children and their learning.

Holland Public Schools-Right for Me

Teacher Shortage Crisis-Michigan “We HAVE a problem!”-Holland Sentinel, October, 2019

Teacher Shortage Crisis-Michigan “We HAVE a problem!”

“Houston, we have a problem”, a popular but erroneous quotation, was used in the movie Apollo 13 to convey to NASA Mission Control, during the Apollo 13 spaceflight, that there was an explosion in flight that crippled the spacecraft. The words actually spoken initially by John “Jack” Swigert were “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

As a school superintendent in the state of Michigan, I would like to convey to our community that “we’ve had a problem here” across the state filling all of our classrooms with highly qualified and certified teachers to start the 2019-2020 school year. In some areas, there are still positions that remain unfilled and/or are being taught by long-term substitute teachers or individuals on emergency certificates.

There is a growing critical shortage of teachers. It is time to acknowledge and name this crisis for what it is and to raise the level of consciousness and understanding of the impact that this is already having in classrooms today, and what is likely to occur in the future if we do not work collectively to lift the honor and respect of our teachers.

According to the September 2017 White Paper Report: Trends in Michigan Teacher Certification-Initial Certificates Issued 1996-2016 published by the Michigan Department of Education, the number of annual initial teaching certificates in Michigan rose from 6,077 in 1996-97 to an all-time high of 9,664 in 2003-04. But, the number has been on a downward decline since to 3,696 in 2015-16. The biggest single year difference of -19% occurred in 2013-14, the time that many of our current kindergarten students were born. This equates to a 62% decrease in initial teaching certificates since its peak in 2004.

While some will argue that the overall public school population during this same time period has only declined by 14%, it is important to note that there are several other factors that should be taken into consideration including: the number of additional public school academies/charter schools, the number of individuals who hold teaching certificates that are currently retired and/or in administration, and the number of individuals that have simply left the profession.

Special education certificates have declined by 33% since 2011-12 and early childhood education by -48%. The sciences have been hit even harder with a decline of 37% (math), 45% (biology), 64% (chemistry), and 54% (physics) during this same time period. While Michigan has historically produced more teachers annually than the number of new teachers employed each year, the number of new assignments has exceeded the number of new certificates issued.

This decline in teacher certification results in competition between/among districts to hire teachers. This includes those new to the profession and those who may be seeking to relocate due to higher wages, closer proximity to home, fields of interest, or changes in the population in which they seek to serve. Turnover like this, or the inability to hire qualified and certified staff that results in vacancies in classrooms, often results in low performance and learning outcomes.

To illustrate this, in a West Michigan district, not too far from the City of Holland, lives a 5th grade student. We will call her Gabby. Here is a breakdown of her first six years in her elementary school:

  • Kindergarten: One long-term substitute teacher (uncertified)
  • 1st grade: Teacher left mid-year, replaced with a substitute
  • 2nd grade: Teacher left mid-year, replaced with a teacher
  • 3rd grade: Three teachers over the course of the year
  • 4th grade: One certified teacher all year
  • 5th grade: Five substitutes throughout the year

According to a recent survey of just under 17,000 teachers by Launch Michigan “MI educators’ concerns are serious enough that only a quarter would recommend education as a career for young people they know. In particular, they say they are worn down by heavy workloads and what they see as lack of support or respect, and sometimes active hindrance, from political leaders…As policy-makers consider efforts to improve schools and educational outcomes, educators are open to a number of approaches. They prioritize smaller class sizes and expanding access to Pre-K and are generally supportive of ideas ranging from distributing funding based on need to adding literacy coaches.”

Only 25% of those surveyed would recommend the profession. We have to do something about this.

How can we expect Gabby, and her classmates, to achieve the grade level expectations that have been set forth from the state of Michigan? Unfortunately, this example is not isolated to this one classroom and one district. How can we ensure that she and her peers are going to be contributing and productive citizens in West Michigan? What can we do to recruit and retain the best individuals into the teaching profession? What is one simple thing that each of us can do today?

Let’s all collectively lift the teaching profession by thanking our teachers for the work that they do each and every day. Thank your child’s current teacher. Thank your children’s teachers from last year. Look up your teachers you had in school and thank them. They deserve this praise and appreciation.

 

Public School Reform in Michigan-Holland Sentinel Editorial-September, 2019

Public School Reform in Michigan

The call for education reform has been a topic of conversation since the inception of formalized schooling dating back to the 19th century. The traditional curricula at that time was rooted in class distinction and preparation for post-secondary education at the university level. Calls for more progressive education focused on experiential learning, integrated/thematic units of instruction, community service, emphasis on life-long learning skills, social responsibility and democracy, problem solving and critical thinking, a de-emphasis on standardized assessment, and movement toward competency-based education are all associated terms of a more progressive movement in education.

The challenge that remains today, however, is an emphasis on high-stakes assessments that have created high-stakes environments of school choice and competition. Some argue that this culture has actually expedited the shift in school demographics in many public school systems, particularly in urban/city centers across our state. There is a growing disparity in free-reduced lunch qualification based upon socio-economics, ethnicity, special education needs, and second language learners from one zip code to another. To complicate things even further, Michigan now has two state accountability systems to measure student achievement in our schools. One that is based upon an A-F grading system, yet to be implemented, and another that is based upon a complexity of multiple measures in the form of parent dashboards and school transparency reports. As schools are ranked from top to bottom, passing or failing, the call for reform continues.

It is important to take a look at some of the things that have changed in our public schools and some that have remained the same. Reading is still fundamental. However, starting this school year, students who are not proficient and more than one grade level below on the state test may be retained. This assumes that all children enter our kindergarten classrooms at the same space and place in social, emotional, cognitive, and academic development ready to learn.

Writing is also still fundamental. Students at the elementary level are asked to take positions, write persuasive essays, and even compare and contrast basic elements from passages that they have read. With the onset of technology and social media, some argue that as a society we are losing our basic means of effective communication. Where did cursive handwriting go, and what happened to writing in complete sentences with a capital letter at the beginning and punctuation at the end? Even adults have replaced dialogue in person WITH ALL CAPITAL LETTERS to convey different emotions. We send text messages to one another, sometimes at the same dinner table without talking to each other. Spell check has replaced spelling.

Oh, and what about mathematics, the third fundamental curriculum? Do we dare use calculators? What about the ability to make change, tell time on an analog clock, or even calculate things mentally? How many of us took Algebra II as a requirement for high school graduation and use it today in our daily lives? Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are now being integrated together to answer the age-old question, “When am I ever going to use this in my life?”

If these three curricula are still fundamental, why are they no longer given the time that they deserve? Why are the test scores arguably low in Michigan?

School safety has evolved in the wake of school shootings from secure front entrance and safety drills to a district in our state considering arming their teachers with hand guns. There is an increased focus on community mental health and creating trauma-informed communities for those children who have been traumatized by experiencing adverse childhood-experiences. Administrators and teachers who were once educators, shifted to care-givers and schools are now being asked to address many adverse or preventative social constructs in our community. We are now asked to be counselors, social workers, mental health providers, dentists, behavioral experts, neuroscientists, psychologists and the list goes on. We need to know and understand the field of epigenetics and the changes in brain development caused by a modification of gene expression and DNA through the ways in which we respond to children in need. What an incredible role of educators today.

Let us also not forget school funding. At the time of writing this editorial, we still do not have an adopted state budget. While as a school leader, I wish the budget were better, and I still call for the study and implementation of equitable funding as presented in the Michigan School Finance Research Collaborative https://www.fundmischools.org/, it is time to move forward.

These and many other topics are set to be the focus of sharing and discussion over the next several months as I approach and present concepts that are impacting public education today. I encourage you to contact me at bdaviseducationideas@gmail.com for topics that you would like to me to share more about and/or to respond to the topics that have been shared. The education of our young people in our community is a shared-responsibility and the more that we can collectively grow and learn together, the more equipped we will be ensure the success of each child.

Homecoming Activities/EEE Communication 9.30.19

Dear HPS Family & Friends,

As we prepare for an evening of community and celebration of school spirit for homecoming on Friday, October 4, 2019, we have decided to take additional proactive measures in light of the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) that has impacted multiple counties in Michigan. While at this time, there are no known EEE cases reported in Ottawa County, we are monitoring this health concern closely.

As you may have heard, state and many local health officials are urging caution after several cases of a rare, mosquito-borne virus called EEE that have been reported in multiple counties including Kent and Allegan. EEE is transmitted to people from the bite of a mosquito that is carrying the virus. Due to our proximity, and potential impact on homecoming activities this week, we believe it is wise for us to take proactive measures now, so that we can appropriately plan ahead should a more direct impact occur.

After careful consideration at this time the following will be taking place this week:

  • Soccer games at West Ottawa on Monday will be changed to 3:45 p.m. (JV) and 5:30 p.m. (Varsity)
  • The home soccer games on Wednesday vs. Hamilton will be changed to 4:00 p.m. (JV) and 5:30 p.m. (Varsity)
  • JV football on Thursday will be at 6:30 p.m. at Zeeland as previously scheduled
  • The Varsity football game will begin at 5:00 p.m. The homecoming dance will still take place on Saturday 8:00-11:00 p.m. Please be prompt in picking up your son/daughter. Details surrounding the homecoming parade are still being discussed and additional communication will be forthcoming.
  • Elementary recess will continue to take place during the day when the risk is lowest.
  • Nearly all of our athletic practices take place immediately after school during daylight hours.
  • For activities that do take place at or after dusk, or in more natural areas (i.e. Cross Country, Golf, Marching Band), we encourage our students, coaches, and staff to follow the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recommendations:
  • Apply insect repellant prior to spending time outdoors that contains the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered products. If you choose to apply insect repellant to your elementary student, please do so prior to the start of the school day. (The school will not be supplying or applying insect repellant to students)
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when possible in addition to socks and shoes.
  • Be aware of the signs of EEE and contact your doctor immediately, should your student experience any symptoms. (Sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, body/joint aches)
  • Additional precautions at home include maintaining window and door screens, using nets or fans over outdoor eating areas, eliminate standing water, avoid outdoor activities from dusk until dawn.

Although sports and outdoor activities are an important part of a child’s education, nothing is more important than their health and safety. Being proactive and prepared is one of the best things that we can do. Please watch for additional information regarding fall sports from the athletic department.

To learn more about EEE, please contact the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services or the Ottawa County Health Department.

Respectfully,

Dr. Brian Davis

Regular Communication Updates from the Superintendents Office-Updated 9.9.19

Communication Updates from the Superintendent's Office

In a continued effort to keep our school community informed of district initiatives, highlights, interests, and celebrations a regular update will be posted and provided here. We have much to celebrate in HPS and we are pleased to partner with you in your District of Choice that is Right for Me!

September 9, 2019

It has been a great start to the new school year. Thank you to everyone for their support and collaboration.

  • What's New in Holland Publics Schools-Don't forget to check out our weekly podcasts on WHTC radio. They are taped live every Wednesday morning between 9:15-9:30 and then posted on our district website here. They are quick updates on events happening across the school community.
  • Student achievement is on the rise at Jefferson Elementary. We are very proud of the efforts of our professional and support staff who work with our students each day. Jefferson, when compared to like peers, is now one of the highest performing elementary schools in the state. Check out the Holland Sentinel article here.
  • Congrats to Superintendent Davis and Principal Nick Cassidy on being trained and earning their Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) Champion designation. They are now part of a group of mental health stakeholders in the community equipped to share the impact of negative childhood experiences on the long-term growth and development of children over time.
  • Holland Hospital and Holland Public Schools have teamed up to launch a School Mental Health Care Manager to support students and families who are at-risk of self-harm. In case you missed this story, you can read the Holland Sentinel article here.
  • We are please to have a new school resource officer at Holland Middle School this year. Officer Sok is already making new connections with the school community and is eager to begin co-teaching with our professional staff. In case you missed the story, you can read more here.
  • Thank you to all of the individuals who helped to support our HHS Marching Dutch Band members attend the 2019 DCI International World Championships in Indianapolis this summer. This proved to be an inspiring opportunity for our students to see what can be accomplished when hard work pays off. Our students are currently preparing for the MSBOA festival in October.
  • Nature-based playgrounds are beginning to take shape across the district thanks to the support and creative design of the Outdoor Discovery Center. We currently have three installed at each of our elementary schools for our Great Start Readiness Pre-School Program. Currently, we have a larger play area going in at Longfellow School to support the play needs of the Holland Language Academy students during their transition. These play areas provide students with creative physical/motor development opportunities. This school year we are working with building teams to improve each of our playgrounds across the district. The HPS Board of Education has allocated approximately $1.3M in sinking fund dollars to enhance our playgrounds through this process. 
  • Spectator Expectations-Thank you to everyone for a great beginning at our extra-curricular events. We appreciate everyone adhering to these guidelines to ensure that our students have the ability to showcase their talents free of disruption and distraction. In case you missed them, you can read more about them here.

 

What's New In Holland Public Schools Radio Broadcasts-Updated 9.4.19

September 4, 2019

Holland High School Band Director Bethany VanOss talks about the readiness of the marching band for the upcoming season. Listen

August 28, 2019

Holland School Superintendent Dr. Brian Davis talks about state education funding. Listen

August 21, 2019

Dr. Brian Davis discusses the first day of classes and mold remediation process in three different schools. Listen

Shakespeare to return to HHS-Theatre Update 9.5.19

Dear Participating Members and Supporters of the Holland Public Schools Theatre Community,

The purpose of this communication is to provide you with a status update of securing a qualified and energized individual to lead forward our Holland High School Theatre Department. We appreciate the patience that has been extended to us during this search process. It has been the ongoing goal of the high school and district administration, with board support, to have a person in place to start this new academic year.

Over the course of this past spring and leading into this school year, we have reviewed and interviewed multiple candidates for this position. Through this process, we have made two separate job offers to individuals, each candidate bringing extensive theatre production and teaching experiences.

Our first candidate, due to personal family reasons, withdrew.

Unfortunately, in a second round search process, our finalist who accepted the position, is currently under contract and unable to start with us this fall as we were all anticipating and has had to withdraw. This candidate was overwhelmed with the level of community support and district tour that was provided to them last Friday. From the Performing Arts Center itself and scene shop area; to the extensive collection of wigs, props, and costumes; they were eager to start with us and to continue a program of excellence.

We received notification today, September 5, 2019 that they would not be able to join us. It was our hope that the communication this week was to announce their full acceptance and addition to our performing arts department.

The position has been posted again, and we will continue the search.

In the interim, I am pleased to share that PJ Maske has accepted and will begin putting together a Winter Shakespeare production incorporating dance and live music  for those students who are interested in doing an after school extra-curricular production. Ms. Mask has a combined sixteen years of teaching, directing, producing and professional acting experience. She has her BA from James Madison University with a double major including theatre/dance.  She also has a MA in Movement Studies from Central School of Speech and Drama, London, UK.  She is the founding producer/artistic director of Urban Garden Performing Arts with over fifteen productions as well as over ten directing credits for other productions in the UK, North Carolina, and Virginia. Part of her teaching experience as a Shakespearean Teacher was over a five year period of time in North Carolina, hence her interest in this year’s production.

If you have a high school student who is interested in participating in this year’s production, we ask that your child stop in to the Student Success Office at Holland High School and indicate that they are by Friday, September 13. We will then make sure that Ms. Maske is able to connect with these interested parties directly as we move forward.

In the interim, we will continue our work to prepare for the Competitive Theatre season and filling our full-time opening.

School Aid Budget Update 9.5.19

The purpose of this communication is to update you on the state budget process in Lansing and possible impact on Holland Public Schools. I encourage you to read this communication, listen to the radio interview, and contact your State Senator and House of Representative. You can search them specifically online by entering your address. Senator Victory (517)373-6920, Senator Nesbitt (517)373-0793 and House Representative Slagh (517) 373-0830 or Whiteford (517) 373-0836 cover most of our school district. Representative Lily would also be a good contact at (517) 373-0838.

As of today, we are 16 business days until the end of the fiscal year for the state budget in Lansing. For the first time in nine years, the HPS Board of Education had to pass our annual operational budget without the state budget defined and how much revenue we would receive for school operations. Our fiscal year begins on July 1, while the state fiscal year begins on October 1. This is a critical issue facing all of our public schools today.

Last week, the state's Budget Director, Chris Kolb, issued a memo to all state department directors about having a contingency plan in place in case there is not a budget by midnight on Sept. 30. It stated, in part:

"Our goal is to determine those functions within your department that would be continued and those that would be temporarily discontinued in the event of a government shutdown.... we are looking for a comprehensive list of all functions and services within your department, including administrative functions, and whether they will be continued...Again, I want to emphasize that we remain hopeful that a budget agreement can be reached prior to October 1, but we are taking the necessary planning steps now as a precaution to ensure that state government is fully prepared should negotiations extend past September 30."

The Senate passed a shell supplemental School Aid budget and sent it to the House of Representative for consideration. This budget has no numbers or specific language included. It was simply acted on as a procedural move to put all of the pieces in place for the Legislature to act quickly once a compromise on the budget is reached. It was passed on a party-line vote. It is now time to hold our legislators accountable in filling in all of the missing pieces and finalize a budget.

Near the end of the day last Thursday, rumors started to heat up that the Republican majorities in the House and Senate will pass their version of a complete budget this week and send it to the Governor. It will probably not include road funding, as the Senate leaders have said that will be dealt with separately. Governor Whitmer has consistently shared that she will veto any budget that does not protect and bring more funding to our K-12 schools and addresses the infrastructure needs of our state, largely roads.

Are We Prepared for a Possible Continuation Budget?

Conversations have turned to the possible need for a continuation budget to avoid a government shutdown. A continuation budget would mean flat funding for schools until a budget is signed. This would mean an annual projected loss in anticipated revenue to Holland Public Schools for this year of approximately $350,000. We would have to review what this means and the impact on programming. This would be evaluated on a month-month basis. We are carefully reviewing all hires and requests from the classroom, building, and district level. Honestly, without a budget from the state, we are simply unable to enact any increased expenditures at this time that are beyond absolute necessity.

To gauge the impact a flat budget would have on school districts, the Michigan School Business Officials surveyed its members and found:  

  • More than 80% of districts passed budgets in June based on some level of increased per-pupil funding. (In HPS, we used an increase of $100/student.)
  • Depending on how large an increase and how long it takes to resolve the state budget, these districts may have to go back and make cuts to those budgets.
  • The survey also found more than 30% of districts would have cash flow problems this fall and be required to borrow money to meet payroll and operation expenses if there is a continuation budget.
  • The data also indicated that if a continuation budget is passed 44 percent of school districts would increase class sizes, 67 percent would decrease educational supply budgets, 25 percent would lay off staff, 60 percent would defer needed maintenance and 89 percent would be unable to make the changes needed to bring their budgets into balance.
  • Additionally, MSBO reported that nearly 1/3 of districts report that they would require an additional cash flow borrowing to cover payroll and operational expenses if a continuation budget were to be in place for 90 days or longer.

HPS may have to make difficult decisions for the current school year, but we would be able to continue school operations with regard to payroll and operational expenditures unless a reduction in state aid over last year is put into place. Unfortunately, this has happened before.

While not expected, and hopefully avoided, a state government shutdown would put all public school districts in Michigan in jeopardy. Districts would begin not receiving their state aid from the Department of Treasury beginning in late October. HPS would have enough cash reserves to operate the District for approximately two months.

Governor Issues Letter to School Community on Budget

The Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators, and the Middle Cities Education Association, all of which HPS is a member district of, supports the School Aid budget proposed by the Governor because of the steps it takes toward implementing the School Finance Research Collaborative and removes universities from the School Aid Fund. Your HPS Board of Educations passed a resolution of support of this funding methodology last spring. Of course, this will take an increase in state revenues to increase funding for our infrastructure and maintain current state programs. We hope that the Legislature will make the hard decisions to increase investment in our state public education system specifically and STOP diverting dedicated money from the School Aid Fund to other general fund expenditures. The Legislature needs to find a real fix to both the School Aid budget and the General Fund budget without shifts from one fund to another or one-time revenue that just creates further issues.

I would encourage each of you to contact our area Senator and House Representatives to share your concern about funding public education in our state and the critical need to have a budget in place by September 30. Our students deserve better.

You can listen to a podcast that I recently did on WHTC Radio on August 28, 2019. It is linked on our district website.

Thank you for your continued support and urgent attention to this matter.

Athletic/Extra-Curricular Spectator Expectations 9.4.19

In our continued effort to improve the spectator experience and increase safety and security for all, I would like to take this time to remind each of us expectations for attendance and participation at all sporting/extra-curricular events both at home and away. This includes venues that are Holland Public Schools owned and operated, other school districts, and venues that are rented for a specific use from the public and/or private sector. This applies to the facility itself, parking lots, and open public areas that are designated as parts of the venue where the event is being held. While most of these expectations are not new, I felt it was important to make sure they are clear to students, parents and community members.

We encourage all students and their families to participate in extracurricular activities and sporting events. This is a great way to build community and celebrate the many accomplishments of our students.

  • While in attendance, we strongly recommend that all TK-8 students that attend events be accompanied by their parent(s) or guardian(s).
  • We ask that students in grades TK-5 follow our “POWER” expectations: Pride, Own Your Actions, Wise Choices, Engaged, Respect; and students in grades 6-12 follow our “ DUTCH” expectations: Diverse, United, Thrive, Committed, Honorable. These expectations are taught and reinforced in our classrooms. It is expected that these behaviors extend to extra-curricular events and activities.
  • The expectation remains that students will also follow the HPS code of conduct at sporting events and all school-sponsored events. The District’s code of conduct is posted on our district website as links from each of our school programs.
  • Last year, with your support, we initiated a "No Re-Entry" policy at our home football games. This practice will continue. Please make sure that you take all personal belongings needed for the game with you upon entrance into the stadium.

Our positive shared experience at events is dependent upon all of us working together and our self-monitoring and accountability. Students will be held accountable for their behavior in the following manner.

  • Students failing to follow the school code of conduct (including profanity, disruptive behavior, disrespect, loitering etc.) at such events will result in students being removed from the event and issued a disciplinary infraction and “Trespass Notice.” They will also be subject to school consequences in similar fashion as if this behavior occurred at school.
  • Students failing to follow these expectations more than one time, after a first restorative session and review of expectations, will be subject to additional accountability for their actions which may include additional school consequences and exclusion from all athletic events and other school-related extra-curricular activities.

At the conclusion of a game, all spectators are asked to leave the venue within 25 minutes. Specifically at the Ray & Sue Smith Stadium on the campus of Hope College, a 25 minute countdown will begin at game’s end to notify everyone when the stadium needs to be cleared.

If you ever see any unsafe activity or behaviors interfering with your ability to enjoy our events as a spectator or a participant, we ask that you report this to one of the many administrators and event coordinators on site. In addition, members from the Department of Public Safety are available to assist.

By working together, we can ensure that our student participants, and our spectators are able to enjoy these special events together as we cheer on our many athletic and extra-curricular participants.

We appreciate your support and encourage you to discuss these reminders with your family.

Thank you,

2019 Fiscal Budget Update-March 5, 2019

2019 Fiscal Budget Update-March 5, 2019

In a press release earlier today by MASA, The Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators (MASA), the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB), the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA), and the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP) applaud Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on a budget proposal that invests in the classroom and recognizes the need for school funding equity based upon a weighted formula. The budget, as outlined, addresses the concerns of Michigan citizens, 70 percent of whom (in a statewide poll commissioned by the School Finance Research Collaborative) said they believe Michigan’s schools are underfunded.

As a contributing member to the work of the Michigan School Finance Research Collaborative Project, and Superintendent of Holland Public Schools, I too applaud Gov. Whitmer on her education proposal. Basing funding on the actual cost to educate students with differing needs is the most equitable way to structure school funding and ensure that all students achieve at the highest level. The results of the recent Michigan School Index and results of the Reading Now Network point to this correlation of achievement and need.

If the Legislature adopts the budget proposed by Gov. Whitmer, this will be one of the most significant changes in the way we fund schools in Michigan’s public education system in a generation, and the largest operational investment made in education since 2002.

Included in the budget proposal was a boost in funding for students impacted by poverty, special education students, and additional funds to increase the number of literacy coaches statewide – a topic that came up during Gov. Whitmer’s State of the State Address last month where she discussed Michigan’s rank nationally for student literacy.

"Some students need more supports than others. Our schools provide individualized instruction for each pupil and our state budget should recognize that we need individualized funding based on each student's need," said Wendy Zdeb, MASSP executive director. "The governor's budget is a huge step in the right direction because it recognizes that a one-size-fits-all funding formula and top-down decision making doesn't provide many students with the support they need to be successful."

“We look forward to working with the governor and the Legislature to get a budget passed before school budgets are due in late June,” said Don Wotruba, executive director of MASB. “This will ensure our students receive a high-quality education, and that school boards and administrators can make timely and accurate budgeting decisions.”

Key factors in the proposed budget include:

  • $507 million in investment for a new, restructured weighted funding model that includes a base per-pupil amount plus additional funding for students with more costly educational needs:
  • $235 million to increase base per-pupil funding to $8,051 for districts at the minimum (a $180 per pupil increase) and $8,529 for districts at the maximum (a $120 per pupil increase). This reduces the gap between the highest and lowest funded districts to $478 per pupil.
  • $120 million to increase state reimbursements for special education services by 4 percentage points. This brings total state funding for special education services to $1.1 billion, which will help districts address the wide variety of needs for special education students, which range from academic supports to one-on-one specialists.
  • $102 million to provide an estimated $894 per at-risk or economically disadvantaged pupil (11 percent of the state minimum foundation allowance). This brings total funding for this purpose to $619 million. Economically disadvantaged students tend to have lower academic success rates. The recommended funding will allow districts to provide additional instructional supports like tutoring and non-instructional supports like counseling to improve academic outcomes for these students.
  • $50 million to provide an estimated $487 per career and technical education pupil (6 percent of the state minimum foundation allowance). This brings total funding for this purpose to $55 million and will help support the higher costs of materials, equipment, and staff for career and technical education courses.
  • $85 million to expand state-funded preschool programming. This investment expands eligibility to 4-year-olds in families with an income up to 300% of the federal poverty level, and also increases state payments per child. This investment brings total funding to $328.9 million and will provide preschool education to an estimated 42,500 children, an increase of 5,100 children from current funding levels.
  • $24.5 million to triple the number of state-funded literacy coaches available to assist elementary school teachers and help improve early literacy attainment. 

I look forward to working with Gov. Whitmer on her plans for the future and a new funding plan for public education in our state. We are a long way away from a final budget but this is a step in the direction needed for Holland Public Schools.

Michigan School Index Report-What it means! March 5, 2019

Michigan School Index Report-What it Means!

I hope that each of you took the opportunity at our elementary parent-teacher conferences or soon will be at our upcoming secondary conferences to talk with your child’s teacher about student growth and performance. This is one way in which we enjoy sharing with each other the learning taking place at Holland Public Schools. We have much to be proud of and to celebrate.

In addition to our local assessments that we use to measure student growth, the state of Michigan is required to demonstrate growth to the U.S. Department of Education. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) developed the School Index System to comply with accountability requirements established in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. ESSA replaced the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

The School Index System provides parents and school districts comparative information about school performance in six areas: student growth, student proficiency, school quality/student success, graduation rates, English Learner progress, and assessment participation. It also provides comparative data to like schools serving similar student populations.

Schools receive:

  • An overall composite index value, or score
  • Index values for each performance area scored, and
  • Index values for student subgroups, including students with disabilities, English learners, various racial/ethnic subgroups, and economically disadvantaged students

Index values range from 0-100. Schools with low index values in one or more performance area or student subgroup (ie. ethnicity, free/reduced lunch status, special education, are learning a second language) are targeted for support through the MDE and their local Intermediate School District (ISD). Schools that are targeted for support will work with the MDE and local ISD to develop an improvement plan.

We are proud that Holland Public Schools ranked very high in several areas, including School Quality and Student Success, Graduation Rates and Assessment Participation. Across the district our scores ranged from 30.01-100. Each of our elementary schools and the middle school program have outscored our peer group comparisons for the last three years that data is available.

We have had the opportunity to review our scores and teams are already in the process of planning work to address our areas of improvement. We did qualify for Additional Targeted Support (ATS) at Holland High School  as we continue to assess and build core academic proficiency and supports for our students who are learning English as a second language.

One of the ways in which we are meeting the needs of our English Learners is through our dual language immersion program at Holland Language Academy, Holland Middle School and next year at as this program will transition into Holland High School. This soon to be TK-12 program has been growing over the past several years and we are excited about the academic progress to date.

Our faculty and staff are extraordinarily talented and dedicated to ensuring that each and every student succeeds. That said, we recognize there is always room for improvement, and we are constantly seeking ways to collaborate and grow. We look forward to working closely with the Ottawa Area ISD and MDE to identify ways we can best meet the needs of all students in the district.

Our experienced staff will continue to customize learning plans that best meet the needs of students identified through this state accountability plan. That is our goal every day – and that goal is not changing. One way that we are already doing this is through our successful Individualized Reading Improvement Plans in each of our elementary schools. We also continue to focus on our district identified priorities of literacy, social competency and teaching practices.

We celebrate the fact that students at our schools speak over 30  different languages – from Burundi to Rohingya to English. We welcome the opportunity to build on the success we’ve had educating – and, in fact, learning from – an extraordinarily diverse student body. We remain committed to ensuring that our programs and performance standards are right for every child in our community. Through our work on equity and building culturally responsive classrooms, we will be beginning an intensive three-year professional development plan this April to ensure that each child, regardless of their ethnicity or economic status, will achieve at high levels of growth and proficiency.

Our Compassionate Staff, Leading Edge Programs, and partnerships with a Committed Community will ensure that we are able to Embrace, Engage, and Empower each student for success in an ever-changing world. Holland Public Schools is Right for Me!

You can learn more about the Michigan School Index System at their website and view results at the parent dashboard.

Thank you for your continued learning and partnership with us as your district school of choice.

 

Family Engagement Strategic Plan Update 1.27.19

Family Engagement Strategic Planning Update

A group of dedicated parents, support staff, teachers, and administrators worked over the course of several months to develop a family engagement plan for the district. This work was embedded in study with Dr. Karen Mapp through online learning in partnership with Harvard. This information will be presented to the HPS Board of Education in February, 2019.

Definition of Family Engagement:

Family Engagement is a full, equal, and equitable partnership among families, educators, and community partners to promote student learning from birth through college and career.

Vision Statement

Partners in Education

To ensure a family engagement partnership that supports the life-long success of each student

Families as First Teachers, Trusting School Culture, Collaborative Relationships and Community

Mission Statement

Enhance student learning through Engaging, Educating, and Empowering families and school teams.

Core Beliefs

  • All families have dreams for their children and want the best for them.
  • Families are the first teachers. We recognize the critical role that parents and other caregivers play as the first teachers of their child and the shared responsibility they have for learning.
  • Student Achievement is central to our work. Our parents and staff must work together to increase the level of individual student performance.
  • Trust and Communication are foundational. Families will engage in the school setting if they believe that they can trust the individuals in the school setting. Trust builds through two-way transparent, simple, clear communication in a language they understand.
  • Connections foster more engagement. A family-friendly and welcoming culture that supports family engagement and student learning is critical to building strong partnerships. This is built through ongoing education of all stakeholders.
  • The responsibility for building and sustaining partnerships between school, home, and the community rests primarily with school staff, especially school leaders. A family engagement program needs to be developed and sustained, with the necessary resources and infrastructure to support its endeavors.

Focus Areas:

  • Parent-Teacher Conferences Format and Structure-Provide a structure that allows for two-way dialogue and collaboration throughout the school year focused on the developing needs of a child socially, emotionally and academically.
  • Learning at Home Resources-Facilitate information, ideas, and resources with/for/by families about how to help their children at home with homework and other curriculum-related activities, decisions, and planning.
  • Communication-Design effective forms of school-to-home and home-to-school communications about school programs, student learning and community resources.
  • Parenting-Encourage opportunities for families to establish home environments that support their children as learners through education and networking.
  • Decision-Making-Include and inform families as participants in school decisions and develop parent leaders across the school community
  • Ongoing Education for Stakeholders-To build capacity of staff, families, and community partners that supports successful school-family partnerships that lead to student achievement.
  • Benchmarks of Success-It is important to define the outcomes and data that will inform our work and measurement our impact.

It’s easy to criticize public schools, but without proper funding, there’s only so much they can do.

I came across this opinion article and found it worth sharing with our HPS family. It was written by Ron Wilson-Superintendent of Ionia Public Schools.

This week I would like to talk about criticism.

My father once told me, “Son, do not criticize someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes, because if they become angry, they will be a mile away and won’t have any shoes!” My father is always good for a humorous quip, sprinkled with some blatantly good advice. I think the point he was making speaks to our tendency to criticize and judge before we first seek to understand.

It’s certainly easy to be a critic. I think the following excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, “Citizenship in a Republic,” delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910, sums that up:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Since the early 1990′s Michigan public schools and educators have been criticized for poor student achievement scores and a plethora of other social ills. But without adequate funding, schools are limited in what they can accomplish.

The recent study completed by Michigan State University, titled “Michigan School Finance at the Crossroads: A Quarter Century of State Control,” concludes that our public schools are not adequately funded

An article published in the Jan. 23 edition of MSU Today summarized the report.

“Michigan has tried to improve schools on the cheap, focusing on more accountability and school choice,” said David Arsen, MSU professor of education policy and lead author of the study. “To make those policies effective, they have to be matched with adequate funding. We have been kidding ourselves to think we can move forward while cutting funding for schools. We don’t have to wait any longer. We know that this isn’t working.”

One fact that surprised me, is that after adjusting for inflation, Michigan’s education funding in 2015 was only 82 percent of what it was in 1995, and worse than any other state.

The report found that the State of Michigan covers less than one-third of the costs for federally-required special education programs. It also found that students from low-income families now account for half of all students, but per-pupil state support for them has dropped even more sharply, by 60 percent.

The study reaffirms an earlier 2018 study by the Michigan School Finance Research Collaborative, or MSFRC, which estimated the base cost of $9,590 to educate a typical student to meet state performance standards. It recommended additional funding for districts with large numbers of students living in poverty, English language learners, special education students and large geographic boundaries.

It's time for less testing, more funding for Mich. schools

I came across this opinion page written by Ron Koehler-Assistant Superintendent at Kent Intermediate School District and found it worth sharing with the HPS family.

One of my favorite music artists, John Prine, once wrote a song with the refrain “It don’t make much sense that common sense don’t make no sense no more.”

That is about the only rational thing I can say about the current state of politics. The most recent example is the record-setting orgy of excess that recently concluded the 99th session of the Michigan Legislature.

For the third time in as many years the Legislature refined the school accountability measurement system by adopting an A-F formula that will give schools letter grades on their performance on standardized tests.

The Legislature also diverted more funds from the School Aid Fund to repair potholes and finance environmental cleanup. This diversion — more than $140 million immediately and growing to nearly $180 million on an annual basis — brings this year’s total to more than $1 billion when added to the $908 million already being taken from our K-12 classrooms to finance higher education.

The A-F bill was passed, of course, because lawmakers claim schools are failing to produce college and career-ready students. Of course, they are diverting more funds away from K-12 classrooms each year to ensure our K-12 districts will not have sufficient resources to meet their demands.

The most comprehensive school funding study in the nation released earlier this year by the School Finance Research Collaborative makes it clear Michigan districts cannot afford the supports students and teachers require to achieve Michigan standards.

So, the beatings will continue until morale improves. More apt, however, is the observation made by an Iowa farmer and school board member some years back when discussing the new standards put in place by President George W. Bush under the “No Child Left Behind” elementary and secondary education act.

“You can’t fatten a hog by weighing it,” said the farmer, expressing the simple truth that coming up with new, more frequent and elaborate measurements will never take the place of adequate nourishment and husbandry.

Our Michigan Legislature and the Snyder administration ignored this simple piece of common sense. Following the $470 per pupil “rebasing” of the per-pupil foundation grant in 2011, this administration spent 77 cents of every new dollar in the School Aid Fund somewhere other than the classroom. Much of it was spent on community colleges and higher education — even as they criticize our students for needing remediation (fattening) once they get there — and most of the rest on unfunded pension liabilities.

The $470 per pupil cut that afforded Gov. Snyder his signature $1.5 billion corporate income tax cut means every child who started kindergarten in 2011 will have had $3,760 less invested in his or her elementary and middle school experience than if there had been no cut at all.

For a classroom of 30 — too large, says the research, but common in Michigan — that’s $112,800 less. That could have brought those children the expertise of reading experts and professional development for their teachers. It could have brought a social worker or guidance counselor to those children, to provide expert assistance for social and emotional needs.

Instead, those dollars went to tax breaks for corporations that, from 2011 through today, have enjoyed the longest period of economic expansion in Michigan and U.S. history. Those diverted dollars virtually guarantee our children cannot achieve the standards our Legislature set for them. That was the conclusion of the School Finance Research Collaborative study.

Hogs don’t gain weight by standing on a scale. Children don’t learn without the educational nourishment to fulfill their needs. It’s just common sense, which is pretty uncommon in today’s world.

This guest commentary first appeared in Bridge Magazine, an online publication of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Center for Michigan.