Holt schools fight for quality despite budget cuts

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Comparing changes in class sizes

Comparing changes in class sizes

By Elizabeth LeCrone
Holt Journal staff writer

Like many districts in the area, Holt is dealing with the continuing need for budget cuts. Despite its struggles, the district is trying to maintain its students’ education.

Kim Cosgrove, Holt’s executive finance director, presented her multi-year projection review to the board on Monday, Jan. 14. She presented a grim view of the reductions the district has to make to continue providing quality education.

Holt Public Schools has to keep its fund balance percentage above 10 percent, according to its fiscal policy. The fund balance is the district’s total revenue minus its expenditures.

The district will have to cut $2.5 million to keep its fund balance percentage above 10 percent, and that figure will only suffice if financial conditions stay relatively constant over the next two years. According to Cosgrove, 86 percent of all public school revenues come from the state, and uthis has been steadily decreasing since 2009.

Cosgrove noted that, in several cases over the past couple years, the district could have compensated for the decrease in state funding by accepting more school-of-choice applications. After all, more students equal more money. But rather than damage the learning environment by cramming too many students into classrooms, the district took the financial hit.

“When we’re working, it’s about the students, and the learning outcomes of our students,” Dean Manikas, principal of Hope Middle School, explained during his professional development update at the meeting. “It’s not for the sake of learning cool new techniques… The issue is, are our students learning?”

According to Manikas, this question has been the center of the district’s professional development focus this year in all its buildings, and the issue will be re-emphasized when school principals meet Friday, Jan. 18.

“First, you need to know [the students] are struggling,” Manikas said after the meeting. According to Manikas, the district is looking at measures other than standardized testing. Students need to be engaged, and teachers need to be able to recognize a student that isn’t involved. He also explained that students need to be given more time to practice what they learn. “It’s about letting them fail and come back from it without flunking,” he said.

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