Monday, July 25, 2011

Lake Orion Schools for Lake Orion Students

Recent remarks from Governor Snyder in his education reform message to the Legislature indicate he wants to mandate that every public district become a school of choice. “The goal is to provide options for students in failing schools,” he said.   "Resident students in every district should have first choice to enroll, but no longer should school districts be allowed to opt out from accepting out-of-district students."

Currently, 452 of the 551 districts in the state participate in schools of choice.  Most districts select open enrollment because they receive the state funding that would go to the student’s home district or they choose to do so because of declining enrollment in their district.  There is some latitude in accepting students based on “if there’s room” or specifying certain grade levels. 
To date, our community has maintained its strong belief that Lake Orion Schools are for Lake Orion Students and I support that.  Fessing up…truth be told, it was while I was Oxford Superintendent that the Board decided to participate in schools of choice/open enrollment in that district based on availability.  Note the operative words here... “the Board decided to...”
What I am strongly opposed to is the loss of LOCAL decision making in this regard. This is a decision that should be made by each local community – not a legislated mandate!
Express your opinion by…
  1. commenting to this Blog post below
  2. taking the poll on the left
  3. contacting the Governor and our legislators

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New administrators join Lake Orion Schools!!

At the July 13 meeting, the Board of Education approved the appointment of three administrators to join the Lake Orion School District.

John Fitzgerald has been appointed Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance replacing Jillynn Keppler.  For the past ten years John has served as Director of Financial Services for the Oakland Schools Intermediate School District.  In the ten years prior to that position, John held business/finance positions with the Rochester Community Schools and in corporate accounting with various banks in Michigan. 

John Blackstock will be the principal of Stadium Drive Elementary School of the Arts  replacing Jesse Baker who has retired.  John has been a Lake Orion educator for thirteen years and has been involved in numerous leadership roles at the district level serving as a "Response to Intervention" Coach and School Improvement Leadership Co-Chair.  He participated in the Oakland County Leadership Academy for Aspiring Principals completing an internship in the program.

Kenneth Nuss will be the principal of Orion Oaks Multi-Age Elementary School replacing Brian Kaplan who has left the district to be middle school principal in Walled Lake.  Beginning in 1994, Ken taught in the Davison School District, was an Assistant Principal and, for the past four years, has been principal of Davison Middle School.  In addition, he was the Camping Director/Lead Teacher for Clarkston SCAMP program for 20 years.

At previous Board meetings, two administrators were appointed:

John Bernia has been appointed principal of Oakview Middle School, replacing Alice Seppanen who has retired.  John taught at Scripps Middle School for 5 years before becoming the Assistant Principal at Oakview in 2008-09 and then at Waldon Middle School beginning in 2009. 

Cliff DuPuy, Director of Technology and Media Services, has an extensive background in instructional technology and business and has worked in public education as Director of Information Technology at St. Clair RESA and Associate Director of Media and Technology at Bay-Arenac ISD.

With great enthusiasm, we welcome our new administrators!!

Education Reform Workgroup

Now that  school funding issues have been settled, the Michigan legislature is turning its attention to identifying education reforms and finding "more efficient and responsible ways for Michigan schools to effectively use tax dollars."
Last week marked the first meeting of a bipartisan education reform workgroup which plans to meet weekly through the summer to consider substantial changes for public education. The workgroup will focus on 1) improving education results, 2) potential reforms to help schools effectively use funding, 3) ways school districts can work together and, 4) review how other states fund their school systems. The committee also will examine the issue of unfunded mandate burdens on school districts and how school performance is tied to funding.
"We need to find a more efficient and responsible way to ensure that the education practices currently in place are the best ones to educate our children," said Representative Bill Rogers, R-Brighton. "Making sure our educational system is working is the number one priority and I hope we can identify potential improvements in this workgroup."
While this is a legislative initiative, invitations have been extended to educators and residents to provide ideas and suggestions.  The workgroup is very interested in learning more about Lake Orion's Project 21 and a presentation is planned for late July. 
I anticipate that the outcomes of the workgroup will create multiple opportunities for us to reflect on our current practices and align them with what's best for students in an efficient and streamlined manner.   

Residents interested in providing ideas and suggestions for the workgroup can contact Representative Rogers' office at (517) 373-1784. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Project 21 - year-long learning

Provide 21st century skills learning opportunities for students
that are not restricted by time and location

Over sixty-five enthusiastic parents, community members, staff, and a few students attended the first meeting of what is now dubbed Project 21 – year-long learning.  The purpose of the meeting was to solicit participation in developing a plan to provide learning opportunities for our students to meet the challenges of the 21st century that are not restricted by time and location.

Like most districts in Michigan, Lake Orion students attend school between 176-181 days a year; 176 days in grades K-5, 180 days in grades 6-10 & 12 and 181 days in grade 11, averaging 179 days each year.  Subtracting this average along with 104 weekend days from the 365-day calendar year leaves 82 days (56 of which are in the summer) when students are not in school - almost half of the time they are in school! 

Project 21 is NOT about creating a year-round school schedule of the same number of days students are in school spaced throughout the year.  Traditional year-round schedules like that of Lake Orion’s Carpenter Elementary School merely reorganize and balance the school year across twelve months to provide more continuous learning by breaking up the long summer vacation into shorter, more frequent vacations throughout the year.

Rather, Project 21 is about creating year-long learning opportunities focusing on 21st century skill development anytime/anywhere; learning that is unrestricted by a September-June calendar within the four walls of a school building.

There are two significant reasons for expanding learning opportunities for students to be successful in this rapidly changing world:

  1. “3 R’s” - Increased academic requirements as a result of the implementation of the common core curriculum  (knowledge/skills students should have so that they will graduate high school fully prepared for college/careers.)
  2. “7 C’s “- Need to develop broader competencies of essential 21st century skills
    • Critical thinking & problem solving
    • Creativity
    • Communication
    • Collaboration & leadership
    • Cross cultural understanding
    • Career learning and self reliance
    • Computing and ICT literacy
3 R’s x 7 C’s = Project 21 – year-long learning

Develop a plan to create year-long learning opportunities for students focusing on 21st century skill development. 
    • Who - Elementary, Middle and High School Students
    • What are some possible opportunities for students?
    • When would these best be done?
      • Summer, holiday breaks, weekends, before/after school, extended school days/year
    • Where could these occur?
      • Online, at home, in school
    • How could these be supported?
      • Community Resource Partnerships (Optimist Club, Rotary, Lions Club, Businesses, Village, Township, Library, Fire department, Police department, Officials, Individuals, Senior citizens
      • Creative financing (Sponsorships, Contributions, LO Education Foundation, Fees)
      • Revenue enhancement  (Extending participation in Project 21 learning opportunities to other district students on a fee-based schedule.)  
Anyone interested in serving on one of the four subcommittees (elementary school, middle school, high school, and resources/revenue enhancement) is asked to complete an online survey indicating his/her preference of subcommittees.   (See below for link to survey.)

An ambitious but not “set-in-stone” timeline will have subcommittees working over the next several months with a recommendation to the LO Board of Education by the end of December 2011.  Depending on work completion, implementation of Project 21 could occur as early as the fall of 2012.