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Director’s Note February 2017

Greetings all,

 

I’m sure you are aware that a nasty virus has been taking its toll on our students and faculty. This weekend the cleaning crew will be taking extra steps to sanitize all surfaces in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. You can help us by keeping your child home for twenty-four hours after the break of a non-medicated fever, diarrhea, or vomiting.

 

The timing of this outbreak coincides with “count day” which is Wednesday February 8. If your child is ill on “count day” please do not bring your child to school. We have an alternate method for including your child in the count.

 

In late November and early December, third through eighth grade students participated in the TerraNova Assessment. Individual reports are now available at the front office. Please stop in at your convenience to pick up your child’s report. If you have questions about your child’s results, please contact you child’s teacher. If you have remaining questions, please feel free to contact me.

 

January and February tend to be busy months for both students and staff. The shorter days limit the exposure to sun and the outdoors. For many, it is time for a short break. Honey Creek will be closed on February 16th and 17th for our mid-winter break.  We will resume classes on February 20th.

 

Stay healthy!

 

Al

Director’s Note December 2016

Greetings all,

As always, December is a busy month.  Third through eighth grade students will begin taking the TerraNova next week. Your child’s teacher will have the testing schedule.

Due to conflicts with the High Point calendar, the craft fair has been moved to December 14th. The Winter Performance will take place on the fifteenth and begin at 3:30. Please remember not to park in the fire lane.

We have a full day of school on December 22nd. Our break begins on December 23rd and we return to school on January 9th.

Once again I’d like to thank all of the community members who supported Honey creek by participating in the AdvancEd accreditation interviews. Once I have the final report I will share it with the community; however, if you are interested in the visitation team’s exit report, I will be presenting it at the next PTO meeting on December 9th at 8:15 a.m.

Have a safe and joyous holiday season!

Al

Director’s Note November 2016

Greetings all,

Thanks to all who planned and worked at the harvest Dinner and Fall Festival this year. The food was fantastic, and from all appearances our students had a wonderful time. We are fortunate to have a community so invested in operating these events.

Our AdvancED accreditation visit will take place on November 9,10, and 11. Parent interviews are scheduled for November 9 from 3:30 to 4:15. If you are available to attend, it will significantly aid in our accreditation efforts. If you need child care, please contact Sue Hofbauer in advance. There is no fee if you are participating in the interviews.

Each year we assess our third through eight grade students with the TerraNova assessment. This assessment provides us with consistent information regarding student progress at a time when state assessments continue to change. We plan to begin assessments after Thanksgiving. Your child’s teacher will share with you specific details regarding the assessment schedule.

I had ice on my car this morning, so it is once again time to share information regarding school closures. 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 HoneyCreek 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 pass without any major weather events, I know it is important for you to have this information in advance.

Have a wonderful November!

Al

Director’s Note October 2016

Greetings all,

It has been a very busy start to the school year, and we are anticipating a very busy October and November.  Major upcoming events include student/parent/teacher conferences, which will be held on October 14th, and 21st and the Harvest Dinner and Fall Festival on October 21st. If you have not had a chance to dine with us at the Harvest Dinner, please join us. I believe that you will find the food and company quite pleasing.

I’m sure that you are aware that our driveway can become quite congested during pickup and drop off periods. Please keep in mind that there are a few simple rules to follow to keep all children safe.

    • The drive is a no parking zone. If you need to leave your car, please park in the lot.
    • The speed limit on campus is fifteen miles per hour.
    • Pick-up and drop-off should only take place in the lane along the curb.
    • Use your turn signal when changing lanes.
    • Watch for children entering the drive from between parked cars.
    • The back drive is not designed for pick-up and drop-off. You may find that it is faster and safer to have your student walk to the front of the school.

If we all follow these rules it will make for much safer and more orderly pick-up and drop-off periods.

Last spring our students participated in the state mandated M-STEP assessment for the second year. The first year the assessment was given in a paper and pencil format. Last year, our students took the online commuter adaptive assessment. Because the assessments are so different, there is little correlation from one year to the next. While these assessments can only give us a snapshot of how our students perform, trend data indicates that our students generally earn proficiency rates greater than those earned by students from across the state and county.

Later this fall, in the federally mandated Annual Education Report, I will provide trend data for the MEAP, M-STEP, and TerraNova assessment given over the past few years.

The table below summarizes the percent of students who scored proficient or better on the spring 2016 M-STEP assessment. The Honey Creek percentages in green indicate that our proficiency rate exceeded those of the state, county, and Ann Arbor Public Schools. The Honey Creek percentages in blue indicate that our proficiency rate exceeded those of the state and county, and the Honey Creek percentages in yellow indicate that our proficiency rate exceeded those of the state.

Have a safe and wonderful fall!

Al

Foundation Gives $100,000 to Honey Creek!

The Honey Creek Community School Foundation is a non-profit group seeking to serve one purpose: to raise funds, both from within and outside the Honey Creek community, to directly benefit our school.

In 2015, we did just that.  Due to the generous support from the Honey Creek community, the Foundation was able to gift $100,000 to our school (in 2 installations).  Because the Foundation supports Honey Creek directly, these gifts will enable changes such as improved technology, increases to staff compensation and professional development opportunities.  In 2015, 58 families made one-time contributions to the Foundation.  37 families made monthly contributions, which ultimately provide sustainable gifts for the Foundation and predictable revenue for our school.

The all-volunteer board, comprised of current student and alumni parents as well as HCCS teachers and staff, is committed to not only help Honey Creek weather times of decreased funding to education, but to provide sustained financial support to ensure a vibrant future for our school.  It is our goal to reach 100% participation from Honey Creek families in 2016!

Director’s Note February

Greetings,

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.

Best,

Al

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.

Director’s Note January

Dear families,

I hope that your holidays were filled with family, friends, and fun. While on break, a great deal of work was completed in our building. Ceiling tiles were removed from all of the classrooms in the main building, the area above the tiles cleaned, the grids were painted, and new tiles installed. All of the floors in the building were cleaned and waxed, and the gym floor was completely resurfaced.

You may be aware the State released last year’s M-STEP score the week before break. Parent Reports arrived that Friday, which left little time to get them sent home. I will be sending them home with students on Friday, January 8. Please check your child’s planner or Friday folder for the report. At this time we have not received comprehensive reports from the state, so we can answer specific questions regarding the parent report, but do not have additional information, which should become available within the next few weeks.

The new assessment, the M-STEP, is aligned to our new state standards. It is more comprehensive and requires greater critical thinking and problem solving skills. The state predicted significant reductions in proficiency percentages, and like schools across the state, Honey Creek did see those reductions; however, our students’ performance remains competitive with the highest scoring districts in the county and state. Because this is a new test, historical performance data does not exist.

The tables below will provide you with the percentage of students who scored proficient or better in the state, county, AAPS, and Honey Creek. Honey Creek percentages have been highlighted to indicate where our school falls when compared to the other three. Percentages highlighted in blue indicate that the percentage of Honey Creek students scoring proficient or better exceeds the state, the county, and AAPS. Scores highlighted in green indicate that the percentage of Honey Creek students scoring proficient or better exceeds the state and the county, and Scores highlighted in yellow indicate that the percentage of Honey Creek students scoring proficient or better exceeds the state. If you have questions, fell free to contact you child’s teacher or me.

Happy New Year, Al

M-Step

Directors Note December

Hi all,

I’m looking forward to our Winter Performance on December 10th. I hope to see you there, and I wish

you a very joyous and safe holiday season.

TerraNova results arrived last week, but we are still waiting on the results from the state assessments given last April.

Below are tables and charts that outline student progress as measured by the TerraNova 3 assessment.  The table provides you with the aggregate mean of the National Percentile (NP) and Scaled Score (SS).  The national percentile is determined by the pool of students taking the exam any given year. As this pool of students changes each year, fluctuations in the NP are common.  The scaled score is based on the number of questions a student answered correctly, and is a better reference to measure actual student achievement. A decrease in the scaled score from one year to the next indicates less than one year of academic growth.  An increase in the scaled score from one year to the next indicates more than one year’s academic growth. This year, many of our scaled scores have decreased. This is largely due to a change in the assessment period. In the past this assessment has been given in April. This year it was given in October, which means a decrease of instruction of six months. This change was implemented because of the change in the state-testing calendar.

Any one assessment can only give us a snap shot of how a student or group of students is performing on any given day. There is always the chance that other influences can impact a student’s performance negatively. It is for that reason that I prefer to look at patterns.

The table below provides mean grade level scaled score for the most recent assessment windows.

Individual reports will be sent home in your child’s planner or Friday folder on Friday, December 4.  If you have questions regarding your child’s performance, please contact your child’s teacher.  If questions remain,  please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Al

Pick-up and Drop-off Etiquette

Dear Honey Creek Families,

Please help keep our kids safe! And be great role models for them! There have been numerous complaints about unsafe traffic conditions, both in front of the school and especially back near the modulars. Below are guidelines for navigating the parking lots; most importantly please STOP at crosswalks and NEVER double-park.

–Fire lanes

There is no parking at any time in the fire lane. These are the lanes by the curb both in front of the building and along the fence by the modulars. You may stand in these lanes (remaining in your car) at pick up and drop off, but you may never leave your vehicle unattended in these lanes. This includes outside of normal school hours (such as pick up from aftercare or activities, or during school gatherings — even in the evening). If you use the curb area for drop-off or pick up, please use your directional signal and check for traffic before driving away from the curb.

If you find yourself using the curb lane when school buses are present, then you should use the designated parking lots instead. Buses at High Point are transporting students with disabilities and always have priority over other automobile traffic.

If you need to leave your car to enter school, even for a few minutes, please park in a designated parking area.

Of course it is NEVER acceptable to double park even if you remain in your vehicle. If you cannot find a space at the curb, you must use the designated parking areas.

–Crosswalks

Drivers, please come to a complete stop at each crosswalk. There are six crosswalks on the circular drive through the WISD campus. Four of these crosswalks are regularly used by families with young children. Because children are often entering crosswalks from between two cars, they may be difficult to see and their view of oncoming traffic will be limited.

Pedestrians, please use crosswalks to move across traffic, especially during busy drop off and pick up times. Children should never be unattended either in drive lanes or in parking areas.

It is NEVER acceptable to drive around other cars stopped at a crosswalk or to swerve around pedestrians in the crosswalk. It is also NEVER acceptable to park in a crosswalk. Pedestrians have the right of way.

–Speed limits

The posted speed limit within the WISD is 15 miles per hour, 5 miles an hour through crosswalks. Please comply with this speed limit at all times. Be prepared to stop during peak pedestrian times such as morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up.

–Standing lanes

During pick-up and drop-off, cars may stand in fire lanes. Please use turn signals to indicate change in lane. Forming a second line of cars is not safe for children and is confusing to other drivers. If you are not able to join the line of standing cars, please keep moving or park in a designated parking spot.

–Aftercare

If children are not picked up within 15 minutes of dismissal (by 3:30 for normal school day), they need to report to aftercare until an adult arrives. Children must be encouraged to wait safely (out of drive areas) for parents.

–Drop-off/Pick-up Near the Modulars

The pedestrian walkways are less defined near the modulars. Drivers should be extra cautious in this area. Double parking is not permitted in the area near the modulars. Please be mindful of your speed and of other drivers and use directional signals when re-entering traffic.

Please use curb as drop-off area, use turn signal to indicate that you are moving into drive lane, and use the circular drive to continue out of the parking area.      

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