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Director’s Note November 2017

Greetings all,

 

Its that time of year when we need begin planning for winter weather. We do not follow Ann Arbor Public Schools, and our decision to close will be based on predictions and actual conditions on the ground. Generally, Honey Creek will not close for cold weather; however, if the cold is accompanied by blowing and drifting snow causing unsafe driving conditions we will close. Once the decision is made, we will send out an email, post on our website, notify local television and radio stations, and if you have registered, send a text through REMIND. If you would like to receive text notifications of school closings, please use the link below and follow the instructions on the page. If you have subscribed to text notifications in prior years, you do not have to sign up again.

 

Sign up to receive Remind texts for school closings

 

Finding a balance between maintaining a safe environment and providing community access is always a challenge. To keep the school secure and safe we need the support and cooperation of our families. Here are a few of our expectations:

 

  • Do not exceed the posted speed limits on the driveway.

 

  • Pull up to the curb when picking up or dropping off students. Do not double-park.

 

  • The C-Wing drive is only to be used for bus service and deliveries. Do not pick up or drop off students in that area.

 

  • Enter the building through the main entry. The doors by the cafeteria and A-Wing are for staff entry and exit only. (I will unlock the doors near the cafeteria for after school and evening events).

 

  • Never block a door open.

 

Your cooperation in keeping the building secure and safe for all of the building users is greatly appreciated.

 

Our third through eighth grade students will begin taking the TerraNova assessment in November. Results of the assessment will be available in early December.

 

Finally, I’d like to thank all of you who participated in the “Tools for Schools” challenge. Your participation allowed us to pull ahead in the final days, and we accepted a check for $1000.00 from Old National Bank on October 25th.

 

Wishing all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Al

Director’s Note October 2017

Greetings all,

 

The school year is off to a great start, and I appreciate all of the effort to get students here on time each day. I know that the policy was put into place rather abruptly, so I’d like to address some of the concerns that have been brought to my attention.

 

Let me start by stating that the intent of this policy is to address chronic tardiness and absenteeism. This has been a major problem in Washtenaw County, and Honey Creek has also experienced issues regarding excessive tardiness and absenteeism. I’m also aware that for many, this has not been an issue.

 

We understand that many families have legitimate reasons for absences and tardies, and we are happy to work with you regarding those absences and tardies.  Of course, our goal will always be to increase attendance; however, this often requires working with families to assure appropriate services are in place to address the challenges impacting attendance. Communicating with us is key to addressing attendance issues and identifying possible solutions. Below is a list of criteria for considering an absence as excused after the sixth absence. Documentation is required:

 

  • Student’s illness/medical reason
  • Medical appointments (including but not limited to medical, counseling, dental or optometry)
  • Student’s observance of a religious holiday
  • Death in the student’s family
  • Other emergency beyond the control of the student or the student’s family
  • Mandated court appearance (written documentation from court required)
  • Placement by Juvenile Court in detention, shelter care, foster care or residential placement
  • Extraordinary educational opportunities as determined and pre-approved by district administrators (This can include family travels. Please check with your child’s teacher prior to the trip)
  • Absences related to parent/guardian’s military service
  • ▪Homelessness

 

This policy has already had a very positive impact on our attendance. We have seen a significant decline in the number of late arrivals, and our observation is that student learning time has been increased by as much as 100 minutes per week.  Additionally, we have had the ability to connect families to county services previously unknown to them. Implementation of this policy has enhanced the educational opportunities for all of our students.

 

We also know that there are events that take place such as inclement weather and accidents. We keep a record of those events on a calendar so that they can be noted in the event we are required to file a report to the county.

 

I’d also like to ask you to keep safety in mind. The speed limit on campus is 15MPH and 5MPH on the drive in front of the school. We have many children transitioning to and from vehicles, so please be careful as you approach and depart the curb. Please be aware and keep the children safe.

 

On another note, I’m pleased to announce that Marta England began working as our new art teacher on October 2. Marta has both a Bachelors degree and a Masters degree in fine arts. She was granted temporary certification by the Michigan Department of Education and will be pursuing full certification.

 

Finally, I’d like to thank all of you for your participation in the “Tools for Schools Challenge.” We were falling behind for a few days, but you chipped in when it really counted.

 

Picture day is October 6, and conferences are scheduled for October 13th and 20th.  The Fall/STEM Festival will take place on the 20th. Watch for messages from the PTO regarding exact times.

 

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at our upcoming events!

 

Best,

 

Al

 

Director’s Note June 2017

Greetings All,

 

It’s hard to believe that the school year is quickly coming to an end. Once again we have a full cohort of eighth grade students graduating. The celebration will take place on June 13th at 5:00. If you have not yet attended one of our graduations, you are in for a treat. School ends the following day at noon.

 

On June 19th, construction of the roundabout at Scio Church and Wagner Road will begin. Construction of the roundabout is expected to take two months. The intersection will be closed to traffic during this time.

 

We will be beginning construction on campus at the same time. The Intermediate School District will be adding two modular classrooms to support campus wide renovations. This will require both Teresa and Liz to pack their classrooms and store all of their belongings in the other two modular classrooms. Cindy and Jon will also need to pack up their rooms to prepare for renovations in those areas. While not concrete, the present plan includes temporarily moving Middle School Science and Middle School Math to the new High Point renovation modular classrooms. They will be housed there until January when they will be moved along with the 4/5 science classroom into B-Wing. This will be their permanent location.

 

Finally, I’d like to wish all of you a wonderful summer. May you do something relaxing, something new, something challenging, and something personally rewarding!

 

Best,

 

 

Al

Director’s Note May 2017

Dear Families,

 

Thank you to those of you who responded to my survey regarding an early dismissal time on Fridays. For the most part, responses were very positive; however, there were some concerns raised that I would like to address.

 

The challenge around scheduling developed when the state of Michigan increased the number of mandatory school days in the school year. The mandate required us to increase our schedule from 175 days to 180 days. Our present calendar is 180 days. We are unable to increase the number of days off during the school year or end the school year earlier in June and remain in compliance with state law.

 

Our building is shared with three separate schools, which presents many challenges to our scheduling, so changes to our schedule often require us working with High Point and Gretchen’s House to modify their schedules. If we were to shorten the school day by ten or fifteen minutes, we would not have adequate time to provide many of our specials classes without creating significant inequities in class length. This is largely controlled by availability of the gymnasium and pool as well as lunch service. A Friday dismissal at 2:10 allows us to take advantage of the two gym slots that are presently available without reducing specials class periods or creating inequities in class times.

 

The shared space also creates challenge for a later start time. High Point busses begin arriving at 8:30, but unloading those busses can often take until 9:15. We need to keep traffic clear until the unloading is complete, which would lead to a start time of 9:30 am, and a dismissal time of 4:30 pm. It would also require both High Point and Gretchen’s House to significantly modify their day schedules. This too would be a burden for many families, and it would significantly limit the number of after school activities that we presently are able to offer.

 

The administration and school board have had several discussions regarding the impact a Friday early dismissal will have on families. At this time we are strongly considering providing aftercare services from 2:10 until 3:15 on Fridays without charge; families would be asked to pay the annual aftercare registration fee.

 

If you have other questions or concerns, the survey link remains open:

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8ZBH3CJ

 

You are also welcome to attend our next regular board meeting which is scheduled for May 24 at 5:30 pm in the PIT. There is an opportunity for public comment at the beginning and end of the meeting.

 

With the end of the year nearing, we have some important events coming up.  Our Curriculum Celebration is on May 19th from 5 to 7 pm, and our Spring Concert will take place on May 25th at 3:30 pm. On June 2nd we will hold PE Play Day, so pack a picnic lunch and come out and join us.

 

Best,

 

Al

Director’s Note April 2017

Greetings all,

 

Welcome back! I hope that you found some time to enjoy our spring break. Along with all of the rain, April starts the spring testing season for grades 1 through 8. As all assessments are now online, individual teachers schedule class testing to limit loss of instructional time and as technology is available. Your child’s teacher will share the assessment schedule with you.

 

The Board of Directors and administration continue to review our school calendar. We understand the challenges associated with floating half days, and plan to reduce the number of half days to the number we have had during previous years. The added half days will now be full days. This means that while we meet the state required number of school days, we greatly exceed the number of required instructional hours. We anticipate reducing the number of hours by shortening the school day on Fridays. The dismissal time on Fridays would be 2:10 pm. Dismissal on Monday-Thursday would remain at 3:15 pm. If you would like to provide feedback on this change to Friday dismissal time, please follow this link:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8ZBH3CJ

 

Have a great April!

 

Al

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

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