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.
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.
It’s 7 p.m. on an early October evening and tensions are high as parents, teachers and students fill the school board meeting room at Holt High School’s North Campus. After several minutes of discussion, Executive Director of Curriculum and Staff Development Dr. Ruth Riddle addressed the growing crowd. “Based on our internal data, we projected being down about 50 students and we’re right on target with our budget projections,” she said. According to information gathered from MISchoolData.org, which publishes student count rates, there were 5,803 students in Holt Public Schools during the 2013-14 school year. The district saw a loss of 87 students in the next year, dropping to 5,716.