Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lake Orion programs win Oakland Press/Oakland Schools 2014 Excellence in Education Award

Tonight was the Oakland Press/Oakland Schools Excellence in Education Awards Recognition Program at which Oakland County's top educational programs are honored.  Eight finalists were selected from the entire county and Lake Orion had  three of the eight  programs in the running; Learning Options High School,  Blanche Sims Elementary Kindergarten Kickoff, and the Districtwide Early Intervention Reading Initiative.  
Three programs were selected as top honorees. I am so proud to announce that the Blanche Sims Kindergarten Kickoff program was selected as 3rd place and our Early Intervention Reading Initiative won 1st place!
In addition to recognition and lots of photos in an upcoming Oakland Press, 3rd place program receives $500 and a plaque and 1st place program receives $1000 and a plaque.
This is the second year in a row that a Lake Orion academic program won 1st place; last year Webber Elementary's Academic Booster Council won 1st place. 
Congratulations to  Heidi Mercer, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for her leadership and to Drew Towlerton and the Learning Options staff, Jennifer Goethals and the Blanche Sims staff, and Julie Stucky and the intervention staff!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New Schedule for Make-Up Days

Recent legislation has reduced the number of days that the LO schools must make-up as a result of cancellations due to power outages and winter weather conditions.

All elementary schools (including Carpenter) and all three middle schools will be in session as follows:

  • All day: Friday, June 13, Monday, June 16, and Tuesday, June 17
  • Half-day a.m.: Wednesday, June 18 (last ½ day of school)
Lake Orion High and Learning Options will be in session as follows:

  • All day: Wednesday, May 7 - No late start for all students, including seniors
  • All day: Wednesday, June 4 - No late start for grades 9-11
  • All day, Thursday, June 12 and Friday, June 13 for grades 9-11
  • Half-day a.m./Exams: Monday, June 16 and Tuesday, June 17 for grades 9-11(last ½ day of school)
    • High School Seniors last day of school has not changed; it is May 30th
    Individual school principals will send specific information about end-of-the-year activities.
    • IMPORTANT NOTE: This schedule is predicated on no additional school cancellations. 

    Sunday, April 13, 2014

    Storm Damage Update

    UPDATE MONDAY, APRIL 14: All Lake Orion schools and buildings are open today, Monday, April 14, with the exception of Blanche Sims Elementary. It is closed.

    As you well know, the storm that went through Lake Orion last night did significant damage to the area including some of our schools.  As of late this afternoon, many of our schools/facilities are still without power and we are checking hourly with DTE as to when power might be restored.  Additionally, there has been some damage to buildings as a result of fallen trees and flying debris.  Our operations staff has been working all day to clear the areas so that upon power restoration driveways are clear to facilitate transportation of students.  

    I have made NO decision to close any schools at this time; however, please tune in to the local media stations in the morning for any cancellations.  Messages will also be sent through school messenger and on the district Website and Facebook pages should cancellations be necessary.

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

    FAQ's regarding school cancellation make-up days

    As you know, winter weather and power outages have caused cancellations at all Lake Orion Schools beyond the six days allowed by the Michigan Department of Education.  A notice of our make-up plan was sent to all parents/staff and is in the Blog post below this. I have had questions about our plan and pose those below along with answers.  Please feel free to add any questions you have in the comment section of this Blog post and I will reply with an answer to your question.

    Q. How many days/hours of instruction are required?
    • 170 days and 1098 hours of instruction are required for the current school year. However, Lake Orion has more days than required; at the elementary level we have 176 days, at the middle level 177 days, and at the high school 180 days. 
    Q.  Why does Lake Orion have more than the required number of days of instruction?
    • We are required to have more days because of a stipulation in the school aid act,  “However, a district shall not provide fewer days of pupil instruction than the district provided for 2009-10. Some districts, like ours, exceeded the 170-day requirement in that school year and have had to maintain more days since then.  
    Q.  How many days have we missed?
    • We have missed 11 days at all schools except Carpenter (9 days) and Oakview (12 days).  These were due to weather and power outages. 
    Q.  How many days are "forgiven" by the state?
    • Six days are forgiven which means that most schools need to be in attendance 164 days; however, because of the school aid act stipulation, Lake Orion must be in attendance 170 days at elementary, 171 at the middle schools and 174 at the high school.  
    Q.  Which days were cancelled?
    • November 18 for power outage (also November 19 for Oakview)
    • December 20 
    • January 2*, 3*, 6, 7, 8, 24, 27, 28  (*Carpenter was not scheduled on these two days)
    • March 12
    Q.  Can we use our "extra" days to count for some of the make-up days? 
    • As of Friday, March 21, this appears unlikely. While the House of Representatives eliminated the stipulation language indicated above in the legislation last week, the Senate put it back in on Friday, March 21.  
    Q.  What if we don't make up the days?
    • If we do not make-up the days, we will lose funding from the state.
    Q.  What if students don't attend school on the make-up days?
    • A district’s daily pupil attendance must meet a minimum 75% pupil attendance requirement in order to avoid a state aid deduction. The percentage of pupil attendance is based upon the actual number of pupils enrolled and scheduled for pupil instruction compared to the number of pupils actually in attendance on that day. 
    Q.  What about the high school seniors?  Do they have to make-up days, too?
    • We are checking with the Michigan Department of Education for direction on how make-up days affect our seniors and will send out information as soon as we know.
    Q.  What about exams?  
    • The high school will be revising the 4th quarter exam schedule and will send out the information very soon.
    Q.  Why don't you cancel the remaining professional development days and use those? 
    • Professional development days are already counted as instructional days.  The law allows schools to count 38 hours of PD time as part of the required number of days of instruction. So eliminating them and having kids come to school on those days will not reduce the number we have to make-up.  
    Q.  Why don't you cancel high school late-start Wednesdays and use that time for make-up?
    • Late start Wednesdays already count as a full day of instruction. Surprisingly, the law does not specify how many hours constitute a day so a partial day counts as a full day.
    Q.  Did the district consider people might already have vacation plans for the extra week students are now in school?
    • We recognize this; however, there is nothing we can do in order to maintain our funding which would have a severe impact on our district.
    Q.  Was there any consideration given to eliminating Spring Break? 
    •  Given the fact Spring Break is only a couple of weeks away and many families have travel plans that were made last fall or earlier, we determined it would be unreasonable to eliminate this vacation period.
    Q.  Is this schedule definite?
    • As of right now, it is.  However, if anything changes in our favor, the schedule will be revised and parents/staff will be immediately notified.   
    • It is important to note that in addition to meeting the required number of days of instruction, we must also meet the required number of hours of instruction. The current make-up plan meets both requirements. 
    Please feel free to add any questions you have in the comment section of this Blog post and I will reply with an answer to your question.

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

    Make-up days for school cancellations

    As you know, winter weather and power outages have caused cancellations at all Lake Orion Schools beyond the six days allowed by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). There is proposed legislation (HB4295) that may favorably impact the number of days to make-up; however, while this legislation has passed in the House of Representatives, it is still pending in the Senate.

    To be on the safe side, we will assume that all missed days of instruction beyond the six allowed must be made-up and the school year will be extended as specified below. (In the event the legislation indicated above passes, we may have fewer days to make-up and this schedule will be revised with immediate notification sent to parents.)

    ·       Blanche Sims, Orion Oaks, Paint Creek, Pine Tree, Stadium Drive and Webber Elementary Schools and Waldon and Scripps Middle Schools
    o   School will be in session all day on June 13 instead of half-day as originally scheduled.
    o   School will be in session all day on June 16, 17, 18, and 19 and half-day on Friday, June 20.

    ·       Carpenter Year Round Elementary will be in session all day June 18 and June 19 and a half-day on Friday, June 20. (Because of the year-round calendar, Carpenter was already scheduled to be in session all day on June 16, 17 and half day on June 18.)

    ·       Oakview Middle School
    o   Oakview will be in session all day on June 13, June 16, 17, 18, and 19 and a half-day on Friday, June 20.  Because, Oakview had one additional cancelled day because of a power outage, Oakview will also be in session on Monday, June 23 unless an appeal to the MDE is approved.

    ·       Lake Orion High School except *seniors:  (The high school will be in session as shown below; however, there may be some adjustments. A detailed June schedule, which will include the exact 4th term exam schedule, will be forthcoming from the high school).
    o   June 12 and 13 will be full days of instruction instead of half-days as originally planned. 
    o   School will be in session all day on June 16 and 17. 
    o   Wednesday, June 18 will be a late start. 
    o   June 19 and June 20 will be half-days and tentatively scheduled as exam days.  

    ·       *Lake Orion High School Seniors: Principal Steve Hawley will send the senior schedule within the next week once a few issues are verified with the MDE.

    ·       Learning Options will follow the LOHS schedule.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Individual school principals will send specific information about end-of-the-year activities.

    Saturday, March 8, 2014

    Lake Orion Schools are "springing" forward

    Despite the freezing temperatures caused by the polar vortex, our LO Dragons are "breathing fire!" Below are just some of the highlights of the great things happening in our schools and the month is just beginning.

    • MEAP scores show Lake Orion students perform among the best in Oakland County - well above the state and county averages.
    • Of the eight programs nominated throughout the County for the Oakland Press/Oakland Schools Excellence in Education Awards Recognition Program, three are Lake Orion programs:
      • Early Intervention Reading Initiative- District
      • Kindergarten Kickoff, Blanche Sims Elementary
      • Learning Options High School
    • Oakview Middle School has been recognized as a "National School to Watch", the first middle school in Michigan to be recognized as such three times by meeting the criteria for high performance, academic excellence, challenging students to use their minds well, responsiveness, sensitivity to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescents, and providing every students with high-quality teachers, resources and support. 
    • With only 100 pieces of art selected across the state, all three middle schools and the high school had art pieces selected to go to the Michigan Youth Arts Festival. 
    • LOHS students attended the 66th Annual Michigan Youth in Government State Conference and two students had a bill they wrote get passed by the student legislature and signed into law by the youth Governor; one student had a national proposal make it through four rounds of intense debate and passed by the General Assembly of the National Issues Forum.
    • The LO Forensics Team competed in the Dexter Tournament and captured two first-place finishes. 
    • The LOHS Students Offering Support (SOS) Program has been recognized by the Oakland County Commissioners and received a proclamation for bringing awareness about teen crises, breaking down myths about mental health issues and suicide and providing peer-to-peer support.
    • LO students ranked among the highest in the state and county for achieving beyond expectations based on a study by Bridge Magazine and the Center for Michigan.