Parents Attack Holt Switch at Emergency Meeting

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The plan has already been approved, but for some parents of students in Holt Public Schools, the battle is far from over.

More than a hundred people showed up to an emergency town hall meeting Saturday, most in opposition to a plan that would see Holt High School seniors and freshmen swap buildings.

"I think we're creating more problems than we need," said Jennifer Bertram, a parent who spoke against the move. "We're creating more logistical nightmares than we need."

The plan, unanimously approved by the school board last month, is designed to ease the transition to high school for ninth-grade students, while creating a proper environment for a "middle college" program designed to prep seniors for post-grad.

"We're trying to do what's in the best interest of the Holt community and all 5,800 kids in our school district," said Holt Superintendent Dr. Johnny Scott. "I think the biggest thing that people should take away is probably the notion of suspend judgement and suspect good intentions."

Not everyone sees it that way. In a meeting that lasted more than two hours, parents and students voiced concerns over safety, transportation and the move's impact on drop-out rates. Students would have to cross the street to the main high school for certain electives or to catch buses.

The Class of 2015 has said it wants a chance to be leaders as upperclassmen in their school.

"It's gonna implode," said Holt junior Connor Webster. "It's like building a skyscraper without any internal support. It's gonna fall down."

Webster says nearly every student he's spoken to opposes the plan. What's more, he said, the district team at the meeting still didn't give him any concrete answers to his questions, a point Summer Rose, a mother of two Holt juniors, echoed.

"I don't feel like any questions were actually answered at this meeting, I think things were addressed that are of concern," she said. "We're wondering how these people we elected into office are not listening to the voice of the community."

Dr. Scott maintains that there is a solid constituency of parents who are supportive of the switch. Tim Hall, a Holt alumnus, is one.

"This is research based," he said. "We're seeing the district trying to promote a plan that is going to improve the services that we provide to our kids transitioning that is going to keep more kids engaged and being promoted toward graduation. I think it's hard to argue with those kind of initiatives and the results we're going to see."

Hall says he thought the district did a good job of supporting its plan, adding that he thought many answers just weren't being heard.

Parents can again voice their opinions at a parent advisory meeting Monday night at Holt High School. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.