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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

Directors Note

Greetings All,

It appears that we have another

week of mild weather, but winter

storms are due to arrive, often when

we least expect them.

In general, we do not close for cold weather,

but we will close when roads become hazardous. We also close when a building issue creates an unsafe situation.

In the event of a closing, we will post on our website, and we will also send out an email. If we have enough notice, we try to get the email out about 6 A.M.  We also post our closings on FOX 2, Local 4, ABC 7, WWJ-TV 62, CW 50 Detroit, WWJ 950 News Radio, and WJR Radio.

 

Additionally, if you receive texts on your cell phone, please follow the link below. You will receive a text as soon as the decision to close is made.

Sign up to receive Remind texts for school closings

 

Another matter of safety involves legislation presently being considered for passage in Lansing. Senate Bills 442 and 561 address the present controversy over guns in schools; however, they will address the issue by allowing concealed carry permit holders to conceal carry in schools. I encourage you to express your feeling on this matter as well as any of the bills outlined below to your local legislator.

House Bill 4822 requires retention of third grade students who do not demonstrate proficiency in reading on the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP). Parents have no say in retention or promotion of general education students and no consideration is allowed for students who have made significant progress toward becoming proficient. Students with disabilities may be promoted based on the recommendation of the IEP team. Recent data released by the MDE indicates that about 50,000 students would be retained if this law went into effect this year.

Amendments to Public Act 451 will allow the state or a local districts to create  School Empowerment Zones. This bill is confusing and provides for extensive changes to public and charter school enrollment as well as to how decisions regarding the opening and closing of school are made. If Ann Arbor were to become an Empowerment Zone, all schools within the AAPS geographical boundaries would be subject to the decisions of the Empowerment Zone Manager.

The bill requires the creation of an Empowerment Zone Board and administration. This entity would exist in addition to all of the local school boards. The Empowerment Zone would be funded by charging all schools within the zone one percent of their school funding. The Empowerment Zone Manager would have final say over which schools would stay open and which schools would close.

This Bill originated in a effort to address the financial difficulties in Detroit Public schools. It is anticipated that to address the financial concerns in Detroit, districts throughout the state would see state funding reduced by $50-75 per student. This reduction could cause the fund balance in many districts to drop below 5%, which would place many districts in financial distress. Once a district is in financial distress, the district or local residents through the petition process could take steps to put an Empowerment Zone in place.

Please consider how these bills would impact education at Honey Creek as well as across the state, and consider sharing your perspective with our local and state legislators.

Thank you for your continued support,

Al

Directors Note October

Greetings all,

I’d like to introduce you to a new member of our community, Stop Sign. Stop joined us in late August, and has been placed in the greenway just across from the main entrance. He is disappointed in his placement because he is rather hard to see, and as a result, he is somewhat self-conscious, believing that he is not doing his job well. Perhaps you could help me restore Stop’s self-esteem by taking notice of him and coming to a full stop before driving through the crosswalk at the main entrance. You will not only be helping Stop, but you will be providing safe crossing for our students and families.

 

 

This month we will begin our administration of the TerraNova assessment. All students in third through eighth grade will participate. The testing schedule will be determined by your child’s classroom teacher. The TerraNova requires far less testing time than state assessments. Additionally, student performance data is available within two weeks. State data often takes six months to get back to the school, and because of all of the transitions in state testing, TerraNova data is presently more reliable.

Major events this month include student/parent/teacher conferences, which are scheduled for October 16th and 23rd. The fall festival is also scheduled for the 23rd. It is a fun event for adults of all ages, so be sure to join us.

All the best,

Al

Director’s Note – November 2014

Greetings all,

October has been a very eventful month. The Walk/Run-A-Thon was a huge success, and I’d like to thank all of the volunteers who contributed on what was a rather cold and damp day.

The spirit of community again filled our school at the fall festival. All the work that went into the Harvest Dinner, Haunted Stage, and numerous festival activities made for a fun filled evening for children and adults. To all who contributed, many, many, thanks.

I’d also like to thank those of you who have supported Honey Creek by contributing to our foundation. If you have been following the various political campaigns, you know that the messages about how schools are funded have become rather confusing. On December 2nd, I will hold three meetings to explain how changes in funding continue to threaten our little school. The meetings will last about 40 minutes and will be held at 8:30 am, 3:30 pm, and 5:30 pm. Please consider attending one.

Finally, with the shorter days we will once again experience darkness in the morning and early in the evening. I ask that you remember to drive safely and slowly as you drop off and pick up your children. Keep in mind that the speed limit on campus is fifteen miles per hour.

Thank you, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Al

Director’s Note – October 2014

Dear Community,

September has been a very busy month at Honey Creek. Teachers and students are engaged, and much learning is taking place. This time of year, many of the teachers are completing their initial assessments, which guide them in the process differentiating both their curriculum and instruction to yield greater academic outcomes. Please reserve a slot at the conferences scheduled for October 17th and 24th. This is a great opportunity for you to discuss your child’s present academic level as well as the plan for addressing his or her continued achievement. Part of assuring the continued academic growth of all students is providing for the regular professional development of our teachers. This year, three of our teachers, Salli Kropp, Teresa Gonzalez-Woods, and Cindy Wauer will be participating in the second level of Assessment Literacy training. This experience will qualify them as trainers, and they will be mentoring Tammy Hall, Mary Bassett, Cheryl Quinn, and Johnny Thompson through the initial stages of the program. The training is targeted toward developing the following outcomes:

Students will:

  • Take ownership in their own learning
  •  Reflect on their strengths and weaknesses
  •  Be motivated for further study of topic
  •  Develop a deeper understanding

Teachers will:

  • Align instruction to the learning target
  • ·Allow for differentiation for individual student needs
  •  Collect accurate data for review of student achievement

 

I want to thank those of you who have worked with Shellee to enlist in our new online system. To date, she, Karen, and other members of our support staff have worked with this system to bring on our general ledger, accounts payable, cash receipts, and student billing and receipts. Additionally, we are close to implementing online enrollment, reenrollment, and attendance records. Shellee has accomplished all of this while working with our auditors to complete a flawless annual audit. Shellee’s quite awesome!

 

Your School Board has also been hard at work. The Board recognizes the hardships created by cuts in state funding as well as the numerous unfunded mandates, which have been put in place over the past few years. At our Board Retreat in September, the Board established several strategic goals to address funding and other issues. You will find an outline of the Board’s work later in this newsletter. Accomplishing these goals will be a central focus of the Board and administrations work over the next few years.

 

Finally, please keep in mind our upcoming conferences, walk/run-a-thon ( Oct. 18th) and Fall Festival (Oct. 24th).

Have a fun and safe autumn!

Al

Director’s Note: November 2013

Dear Community,
It was such a pleasure to see so many of you at our Fall Festival last weekend. I’d like to thank the Kovacs and all the other families who did so much to make this event an incredible success. I’m always left very impressed with results when our community pulls together to accomplish a goal.
As many of you know, school funding has become a serious issue in our state. Two years ago, the Muskegon Heights and Highland Park school districts closed all of their schools and contracted with for-profit charter companies to operate their schools. Then, last year both Buena Vista and Inkster school districts closed; and Albion closed its high school. Presently, there are 55 school districts in the state that are in financial distress. These schools will be required make significant budget cuts or will have an emergency financial manager appointed to operate their district. Smaller districts may face closure.
Shellee and I, as well as our school board, saw this challenge coming several years ago. We were also aware that reductions in federal funding were setting many school districts up to slide over a financial cliff. For this reason, we increased our fund balance and began making strategic cuts in an effort to retain our various educational programs. Because 80% of our budget goes to personnel costs, our teachers and staff have borne the brunt of the cuts. At the same time, their out-of-pocket costs for their benefits programs – health care and mandatory retirement savings – have increased dramatically– in some cases by several hundred percent.
Presently there are several bills being introduced to our state legislative bodies that focus on reducing the sales tax on a variety of items. If passed into law, the legislation will have a direct impact on the school aid fund, which is primarily funded by sales tax. The school aid fund provides approximately 83% of Honey Creek’s total revenues.
In an effort to address continued reductions in our funding, the Honey Creek Board of Trustees took the initiative to create the Honey Creek Community School Foundation. The focus of the Foundation is to raise funds to create a sustainable financial platform, which will also provide for the continued improvement of our wonderful school. We will do this by soliciting donations from our community, local businesses and philanthropists, and foundations, but community participation will be vital to our efforts to secure larger donations.
In the next week or two you will receive an invitation to participate in an evening event to learn more about the challenges as well as the opportunities before us. Please make the time to attend. Between now and then, there are a few things that you can do.
  • Learn more about the financial challenges facing education in our state and share that with fellow community members.
  • Consider how you can support your child’s education by giving to the Foundation.
  • Consider asking extended family members if they would be willing to support your child’s education.
  • Ask your employer if they provide matching funds for charitable donations.
  • Speak to your employer about the wonderful education your child is receiving and ask them if they would be willing to meet with a member of our Foundation Board.
Our Fall Festival is just one example of our community’s generosity and ability to come together for a common cause. I’m certain that with your support we can overcome the challenges ahead. Thank you for taking the time to read this message and for all that you do for our wonderful school.
Al

Director’s Note: October 2013

Dear Families,
        One of my greatest pleasures is to walk through the classrooms and see so many students actively engaged in learning, and my observations lead me to conclude that there is much learning going on. Based on the number of you who turned out on curriculum night, I know this learning is being supported at home, and I encourage you to follow up with your child’s teacher should you ever have any concern.
      One concern that has already been brought to my attention is parking lot safety. There are a few things that each of us can do to increase the safety for all of our building users. First, the speed limit on campus is fifteen miles per hour. As we have many small children entering and leaving the building throughout the day, it is important not to exceed that limit. Most of us can remember a time when an impulsive three or four year old broke away from us, only to run into the street. Also, I’ve noticed cars parked directly over the crosswalk at the front of the building. This requires pedestrians to walk outside of the crosswalk, and it restricts access to the building for our friends in wheelchairs.  If you need to leave your car at any time, please park in the lot. We have handicapped students from many other schools brought to High Point throughout the day, and the bus lane must remain clear to provide them with safe access. Finally, during pick-up hour, we have many children moving between and among cars. Some of these children are not tall enough to be seen as they pass between parked cars. Please exercise extra caution when leaving the pick-up line.
I’d also like to remind you that our annual walk/run-a-thon is this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This PTO sponsored event supports both school and PTO activities. I’ll look forward to seeing you there.
All the best,
Al
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