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.
Just last year, Holt High School sent seniors on their own while freshman joined everyone else. The North Campus holds college class for seniors and the South Campus, or the Main Campus, holds class for the freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Holt Public Schools Superintendent David Hornak said this change was beneficial to all students of high school age. Prior to this change, ninth-graders had their own building, separate from grades 10-12. “Moving the ninth-graders to the senior high helps them to engage in high school experiences for preparation of high-stakes standardized testing and provides resources to keep students on a path to a successful future,” said Hornak.
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.