Possible alternate education for Holt Central High School

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By Ashleigh Rogers
Holt Journal staff writer

Holt Central High School may be getting a  change in its educational curriculum from alternative classroom education to an online education.

On Feb. 10, the Holt School Board discussed options to enhance the success of Holt Central High School, whose graduation rate is less than 15%.  This rate is especially low in comparison to Holt Senior High School’s graduation rate of 81%.

(from left) Bruce Duling, Jeana McKee, Johnny Scott, and Mike Flanagan

The meeting’s objective was to introduce a national alternative education program-for-hire called Ombudsman, which is already being used in the Waverly School District. Stan Kogut, superintendent of the Ingham Intermediate School District and other representatives gave a presentation highlighting the program and the success it can provide for the Holt School District.  Holt’s Director of Curriculum Dean Manikas stated that the school’s 14.5% graduation rate doesn’t meet state standards, and has had two years to correct the problem.  The district currently pays $93,000 a year to rent the building to hold the classes, which was formerly a bowling alley.

“No matter how hard you work,” stated Manikas, “catching up with these standards has become impossible.”

Families with students that attend Holt Central expressed much concern regarding possible curriculum changes.  Students and staff members explained that the new program would be too computer-oriented and there would not be sufficient instruction from teachers.  Staff and families felt that the school helped develop a close-knit family, and this was part of the reason why the school has had favorable attendance statistics.

Debra Wood is the mother of a 16-year-old sophomore at Holt Central.  “I think a personal touch is a lot better,” she stated.  “This school has been really good for my son.”

Holt Central English teacher Erin Umpstead explained that she was not impressed with the Ombudsman curriculum being used by the Waverly school district.  “I heard that the classes are in a strip mall for Lansing Waverly’s program,” said Umpstead.  “To a lot of these kids Holt Central High is a family.  Does your family live in a strip mall?”

Ombudsman representatives explained that the Holt Central staff would develop the program to fit the school’s needs.  Holt Superintendant Johnny Scott explained that the teachers would continue to teach under the new program if Ombudsman is purchased.

The fate of Holt Central High School will be determined at a third school board meeting set to be held on Feb. 24 at 6 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Lansing State Journal

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