By Andrew Merkle
The Holt Journal
There were a couple of key issues that highlighted the last Holt Public Schools Board of Education meeting, which took place in March.
The first was an updated curriculum in the district. At Dimondale and Elliott Elementary Schools, a new STEM Program has been instituted and is having much success.
Last year Holt applied for and received a STEM grant of more than $12,000 to be able to implement a STEM program. STEM focuses on science and mathematics, which is made clear by its full name: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The program is Lego-based said Josh Cooper, Dimondale Elementary principal, and currently 245 students from kindergarten through fourth grade are enrolled in the program. The five year goal is for the program to impact more than 3,000 students.
There are currently 10 people trained by STEM professionals, including two administrators and one parent in the district, Cooper said.
Eric Grabow, teacher at Sycamore Elementary, works with the STEM program and is said the program is a success.
“The value of perseverance and teamwork … it’s amazing to see,” Grabow said. “For them to work together and my role is to just guide them. I’ve very rarely put my hands on the Legos with the students.”
Another issue covered at the board meeting was the results of the February count day.
Pupil Accounting and Data Coordinator Jan Dodge presented the board with preliminary results of the student count number. The count showed that Holt Public Schools lost 31 students overall. This is typical, Dodge said, and it is part of a trend in the district and across the county.
While Holt lost a net of 31 students overall, it showed a net gain of 25 students at the kindergarten level which could be a sign for optimism and potential growth Dodge said.
The board also saw a millage restoration presentation from Executive Finance Director Kim Cosgrove.
Cosgrove demonstrated the PowerPoint presentation that would be shared during public information meetings about the millage restoration ballot. She also spoke about activities that are and are not permitted under the Michigan Finance Law during millage campaigns.
Cosgrove had one bid of advice for the board when speaking to the public regarding the millage vote.
“In the general spirit of this, if you feel that you’re advocating, then you probably shouldn’t be saying it,” Cosgrove said. “Make sure it is factual in nature when you talk to the public.”
The state of Michigan assumes school districts collect 18 mills from taxpayers, but Holt — due to millage rollbacks — only collects roughly 17.2 mills, Cosgrove said. This leads to Holt Public Schools’ General Fund losing roughly $142,000 annually, which is approximately $25 per pupil.
The current proposal asks for an increase in taxes of two mills, contingent upon millage reductions in the next two years.
What this means, according to Cosgrove, is that the mills Holt collects will increase from just more than 17 mills by two full mills. This is assuming that in the next two years millage reductions will lower the collected mills back to the standard of 18.
Voters will decide at the polls on May 5.