Delhi Township’s home values and population continue to rise thanks to the reputation of Holt’s Public Schools and the great recreation options that are available in the area. According to U.S. Census data, Delhi Township increased its house occupancy by 19 percent from 2000 to 2010. That was the biggest change of any township in Ingham County during that time span. Not only does the population continue to go up, but the median value of owner-occupied housing units is higher in Holt than the state as a whole, according to Census data from 2010 to 2014. “Its location, schools and then the amenities like trails are a big draw,” said C.J. Davis, Delhi Township Supervisor.
After Holt Public Schools Trustee Mark Needham attended an Ingham Schools Officers Association meeting he knew that Holt Public schools needed to improve their plan to keep students in the classroom. “While our dropout rate is on par with national average we have a fair amount of ninth-grade students who start high school within the district and then end up switching to a different district,” Needham said. “That’s where our problem lies, and we are working every day to figure out why students are leaving and what we can do to keep them here.”
According to The National Center for Education Statistics the national high school dropout rate is about 6.5 percent and while Michigan’s dropout rate is 9.61 percent Holt Public Schools remains right with the national average at 6.9 percent. Most students who dropout of high school fit in the at risk category regrading GPA’s, family life and economic status. Barbara Markle, Assistant Dean for K-12 Outreach in the College of Education at Michigan State University talks about the programs she works to implement in schools for at-risk students.
In 2009 Holt Public Schools with the help of the surrounding community and Lansing Community College, wanted to make it possible for students to further their education, even if they didn’t have the financial means. That’s when then-Holt Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Johnny Scott, along with his board members founded the H.O.L.T. scholarship program, with the first scholarships being given out in 2011. H.O.L.T. stands for Helping Others Learn Together. This fund will help children who are at risk of not furthering their education access two years of free tuition at Lansing Community College in exchange for graduating from Holt High School. According to the H.O.L.T Scholarship Program information, a student is eligible based on the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria for at-risk students. The U.S. Department of Education website states that the criteria includes race, whether the student live in a single parent home and whether the student’s family income is on or below the poverty line.
A continuous battle has been raging between parents and Holt Public School administrators over the last two years in what is appropriately being called the “switch.”
The “switch” refers to the creation of a North Campus, which is located across the street from the high school, where only seniors have classes. The intent was for seniors to get a feel for what it would be like to navigate a college campus and to be responsible for getting to class on time. According to Holt Public Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hornak, most students and teachers are in support of the stand-alone North Campus, but it’s the parents who have the most concerns. While students seem to be more concerned about parking issues in the winter and the possibility of having open lunches, parents are most concerned over the safety of their children walking back and forth between campuses. Jennifer Bertram, the mother of two Holt High School graduates, is just one of many parents who has outwardly protested the “switch.”
“We were passionately opposed to the plan laid out by the district…” said Bertram.
Back in the 1970s when Holt Public Schools Superintendent David Hornak went to school, every student was taught the exact same thing the exact same way whether they could understand it or not. “Back when I went to school it was ‘this is the way you’re going to be taught. If you get it, great. If you don’t, that’s your problem,’” Hornak said. “Whatever teachers were instructed to teach is what they taught and they just hoped it stuck with the majority of students.”
Having worked in the Holt Public School District for 22 years now, Hornak shed some light on the program that the district now uses to evaluate each individual student and how they try and meet their needs.
By his own accounts, Holt Public Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hornak has been in office for just over 120 days. But, does anyone in the district really know him yet? Behind the thick-rimmed glasses, white button-down shirt and larger-than-life smile, you will see a man, who, in his own words is, “tickled to be here.”
Sitting down for an interview, Hornak exudes confidence and charisma with every word he says about Holt Public Schools. It takes only a matter of seconds, and a quick glimpse around his office, to see just how passionate he is about his students and his role as superintendent. Before taking his current position as Holt Public Schools superintendent, Hornak spent 22 years working in the district as both an elementary school teacher and principal.
By Aundreana Jones-Poole
Holt Journal staff reporter
Krista Oesterle-Smith is a mother in Holt. She moved here as a young woman and has loved it ever since. “I moved away from my parents at age 24 to Holt because I liked the small town atmosphere,” said Oesterle-Smith. “I got married, bought a house and had two children here.”
She’s not alone in her feelings. Last year, Holt was placed in the top 10 for best places for home ownership in a study done by NerdWallet, a consumer finance advocacy Website. When choosing a home, Oesterle-Smith and her husband wanted to purchase a place in their price range that they wouldn’t have to put a lot of money into fixing.
Holt Public Schools will experience major school issues this year due to a number of
confounding factors, a school district official said Jan.14, 2013. Executive Director of Finance and Business Services Kim Cosgrove said Holt Public Schools are making reductions to the budget and facing a decline in enrollment. Cosgrove said the state of Michigan decides every year how much money to give each public school district, and Holt Public Schools were expecting to receive $7,714. “Eighty-six percent of the revenues for all public schools in Michigan comes directly from the state of Michigan,” she said. Cosgrove added that the state of Michigan made an estimate, but then said that it didn’t have enough money because of the downturn in the economy.