Holt Schools Move Students To Save Money

By: Brian Johnson
By: Brian Johnson

"We want students to have similar types of experiences that they would have in a college setting so that if we are truly going to prepare them for where they are going to be heading, let's try to construct that experience."

Holt Superintendent - Dr. Johnny Scott

Rather than cut traditional services, like school buses, counselors or sports, Holt Public Schools is getting creative. The district wants to change its 9th grade campus to what is called a "Middle College."

It's one of eight ideas under consideration. Like many districts, Holt has hit hard economic times. Costs keep rising, yet state funding has dropped by about $500 per student each year. That, combined with more schooling options and lower birth rates, attendance at Holt schools has hit a seven year low.

"The funding structure that we have in K-12 education definitely has not kept up with the cost that we are incurring," said Dr. Johnny Scott, the Superintendent of Holt Public Schools.

In the coming school year, Holt has to cut up to $3 million to make ends meet.

What is currently a separate 9th grade campus would be switched to house 12th grade only. It would save the district money and could help the students transition both academically and socially from high school to college life.

"I wish they would have done something like that when I was in high school," said Kim Whitehead, a parent of Holt High School student. "I would give the seniors a little bit more experience of what it's going to be like when they leave high school and they are in college."

But students who have graduated beyond the 9th grade campus are less thrilled.

"My son told me about that yesterday and to him he said 'I'm glad I'm graduating this year' because he said he wouldn't like that at all," said Lynn Tyler, another parent.

"We were already over there for a year and we just don't want to go back. It's small and we want to be over here with all the rest of the people. We've been waiting a while to go to this school," said Katelyn Churchill, a student at Holt High School.

The proposal was presented on Monday to the school board. A final plan won't be adopted until June.

"One of the things that we feel real proud about: in this proposal we have not talked about eliminating services to kids," said Dr. Scott. "We are talking about how can we repurpose to do some things differently and be cost effective."

The district also plans to relocate 13 preschool classrooms which currently are spread across 6 different school buildings and put them all into one "preschool only" building. That would lower costs by eliminating some administrative staff.

Holt also plans to switch another elementary school to a year-round calendar, with just a six week summer break.

It is also considering closing the pool at the junior high.

None of the proposals are a done deal yet. The district plans on taking the proposals to the community for input and feedback in addition to asking for another millage.

You can review the other cost-saving items under consideration by going to the website below.

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