Superintendent's Scoop

March 2019

Dear Parents/Guardians/Community Members:

The calendar shows that the first day of spring is March 20th - I hope Mother Nature is using the same calendar! What a wild Michigan winter! The number one question I am asked is how many days of school will need to be made up. State law mandates that public schools must be in session for a minimum of 180 days and have 1098 clock hours of instruction. The state "forgives" six days of school cancellations, and districts may ask for a waiver of three additional days. HLCS has been "forgiven" the maximum of nine days, leaving us with seven days to make up in June. While the state debates whether or not to "forgive" additional days, we are preparing to extend the 2018-2019 school year.

March is a big month for our school district! The district has spent a considerable amount of time preparing for a 2019-2020 school year that provides increased opportunities for our students, families and community partnerships. Opportunities include increased programming options for our seventh and eighth grade students, better vertically aligned PreK-6th grade programming, and improved teaching and learning environments. While the planning for the grade-level realignment is well under way, the Board of Education has some decisions to make at the March 11th board meeting.

First on the docket is the renaming of the main campus buildings. The renaming of Houghton Lake High School to Houghton Lake Junior/Senior High School is one proposal. The other proposal is to name the newly aligned PreK-6th grade building Collins Elementary, housing a lower elementary and an upper elementary.

The second issue is the recommendation to realign the PreK-6th grade building's administrative team. This proposal includes having a PreK-6th grade principal, a PreK-2nd grade assistant principal and a 3rd-6th grade assistant principal. This alignment maximizes our administrative resources to provide a heightened focus on the Instructional Infrastructure and support to the Intense Student Support Network of the MiExcel Blueprint initiative the district is installing.

The final recommendation includes the Board of Education to taking action to accept the $750,000 31b Balanced Calendar Program grant awarded to the Houghton Lake Community School District by the Michigan Department of Education. If the board elects to accept the grant, our Kindergarten-6th grade students will have the opportunity to opt into a balanced school calendar beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. It is critically important for families and community members to understand that both the traditional school calendar and the balanced school calendar will run next school year - families will have the opportunity to decide which calendar best fits the needs of their children and family. The grant monies will provide cooling to balanced calendar classrooms and to common areas in the reconfigured PreK-6thgrade building. Every child and staff member will benefit from the cooled spaces such as the gymnasium, libraries and computer labs.

At a special Board of Education meeting on March 19th, the board will look to approve the district’s five-year strategic plan. On a Saturday in February, a group of over twenty stakeholders met to drive the strategic planning discussion and set goal areas. Goal areas for the district include academics, facilities, finance/operations, communication, and technology. The administrative team will develop objectives, implementation strategies, and timelines. The community is invited to the March 19th Board of Education meeting to learn about the final product.

While there are changes for Houghton Lake Community Schools, the changes are purposeful and take into consideration the whole child, including both academic and non-academic needs. The Houghton Lake Community School District is not interested in change for the sake of change, to jump on the “latest and greatest” educational band wagon. What is a priority for the Houghton Lake Community School District is to provide the best educational experiences for our students and families while meeting the needs of our diverse community. Educational research guides school initiatives. Needs of our families and the community guide choices. It is an exciting time to be a Bobcat!

For the most current district updates, visit the Houghton Lake Community School Web page at The Facilities Forum and Superintendent’s Scoop tiles to the right of the main page will provide community members with the most up-to-date happenings in the district.