Archive | February, 2016

Director’s Note February


Winter is slowly slipping past us, but the chance for a significant storm or two remains. It is common at this time of year for there to be some confusion regarding our school cancellation policy, and I’d like to remind you that we do not follow Ann Arbor Public School closings. The decision to close is made by the HCCS administration after consulting with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District and reviewing weather conditions. In general, Honey Creek Community School does not close for cold weather; however, if cold weather is accompanied by blowing and drifting snow, which contributes to unsafe driving conditions, the school will close. Snow closings are based on actual conditions on the ground and forecasts. As Honey Creek Community School serves families throughout Washtenaw County, conditions may vary. Students who are unable to attend due to unsafe road conditions will be excused.

Honey Creek Community School maintains several systems for announcing school closings. The most efficient way to receive notification is through the school text messaging system. Families may sign-up to receive text notifications at: https://www.remind.com/join/honeycr. Additionally, Honey Creek sends out notifications through our email system and places a banner notification on our homepage: honeycreekschool.org. We also post with the following media outlets: FOX 2, Local 4, ABC 7, WWJ-TV 62, CW 50 Detroit, WWJ 950 News Radio, and WJR Radio.

While I’m hopeful that winter will fade away without any major weather events, I felt it important to review our policies and notification systems.



Board News February

The Board of Trustees met on January 27, 2016 at 5:30pm. Board members present: Greg White, Karen Andrews, Christine Kelley, Sara Hoffman, Megan Masson-Minnock, Pamela Reister, Steve Rich. Staff and community present: Al Waters, Shellee Almquist, Sue Hofbauer, Mary Bassett, Karen Giltrow.

The Board focused much of its attention this meeting on the first reading of the updated budget, which includes hard numbers for both revenues and expenses. One primary concern was preserving a healthy fund balance while also offering increased pay to faculty and staff. The finance committee had prepared some figures looking at 1%, 1.5%, 3%, 4%, and 5% raises. Discussion followed, with Karen Andrews encouraging board to find potential places to reduce costs as we prioritize teacher compensation. Shellee Almquist advised a conservative approach to spending, pointing to decreasing projected fund balances over future years. The finance committee will take the budget and provide some recommendations about appropriate steps forward, and the board will vote on a final budget in February.

Director’s Report:

Al reported that the building was thoroughly cleaned over the break, with some delays due to roof leaks and waiting on construction crews (which inconvenienced some teachers who had to wait to get into classrooms until just before school resumed). He intends to test air quality again, and is continuing to work with WISD to maintain facilities.

Reviewed enrollment meetings, including current 104 interested families. This is down a bit from previous years; Al’s guess is that increased options (STEAM school, expanded Open school, schools of choice) and our reputation for taking few new students annually has contributed to this.

Reviewed the generally positive (for Honey Creek) MSTEP results.

Informed board of a concern a family had brought forth about social curriculum. Al and the executive committee of the board have consulted a lawyer around this concern, and have a plan to address the concern.

Finance Committee Report:

Still needs a chair/treasurer. Worked with Shellee to prepare the budget. Will be looking into a line of credit as an alternative to maintaining a very high fund balance.

Foundation Liaisons Report:

Foundation had annual retreat, and has committed to raising $125,000 for the school in the coming year.

Governance Committee Report:

Continued working on updating board documents.

Four individuals have expressed interest in serving on the HC board. Committee will meet with them to assess interest/fit, and will bring candidates to the board at our next meeting.

Communications and Outreach Committee Report:

Continuing to work on strategies to improve internal and external communications, including direct communication between stakeholders, website, email, newsletter, promotional materials.

Branding/Marketing Committee Report:

Steve Rich reports that Erin Peterson has joined him in his work, and they hope to produce a draft of the marketing platform by March.

Faculty Liaison:

No report.

New Business:

Karen Andrews had to leave the meeting early, so discussion on her proposal to form a Facilities task force was tabled until our next meeting. Goal of this would be to have regular inspections of the facilities to look for work that could be considered in-kind per new lease, and to confirm that WISD is managing the space.

Board kudos: To the teachers, for hard work producing semester reports; to Sarah VanLoo, Teresa Gonzalez Woods, and Jessica P’Simer for running after school art; to the students, teachers, and parents for another impressive Curriculum Celebration; to the teachers, staff, and parent volunteers for hosting the Enrollment Meetings; to Margaret Wessel-Walker for her work in the media center, at lunch, and after care this fall.

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