CASL Academy Replaces Franklin

There are a lot of changes at Coldwater Community Schools, one of them being the restructuring of the education which alternative students in our district receive. While Franklin Alternative High School has been a nurturing and caring program for our students, the program has encountered significant obstacles in recent years that have led to poor student attendance and a very unsatisfactory graduation rate.

The new CASL Academy will be located at the Lincoln Learning Center beginning in August of 2014. The goal, as it has always been, is for alternative high school students to earn a diploma or GED. Although Franklin School will not be operating, all of the students will be presented with several viable options including transfer to the new program at the Lincoln Learning Center, which will become the CASL (Coldwater Adult and Secondary Learning) Academy. Other possibilities include moving back into their residential high school, attending part of the day at the Branch Area Careers Center, or a combination of these placements.

Over the past year, Coldwater Community Schools administration team has been studying the most recent research, talking with administrators and staff members, meeting with students, and learning from other programs to explore changes to overcome student obstacles to success. It was decided to move the program to the Lincoln Learning Center to consolidate daycare options, make the commute closer for students, and function in a building that better fit student needs.

Over the summer the building will be prepared for the students with registration beginning on May 20 and classes beginning September 2, following the Coldwater School calendar. Class times will run from 11 a.m. till 6:30 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays with an hour of focus time each day. The hour of focus time will allow students to receive tutoring assistance or to complete homework. Fridays will be reserved for tutoring and enrichment opportunities.

Students who attend CASL Academy will be those who require smaller class sizes, alternative strategies, or who attend Coldwater High School but need credit recovery. The Coldwater Adult Education students will share the facility but will be in separate classrooms most times.

Expectations for student behavior will be high including no tobacco use allowed in or around the school grounds and no cell phones or other personal electronic devices in the classrooms.

Special services offered to students at CASL Academy will include child care for infants through age 12 at the Kids Club Daycare open 6am till 6pm, tutoring support, counseling support, partnerships with other agencies in the area, hot lunches, transportation, participation at the Branch Area Careers Center in the morning, shared time with Coldwater High School, teens receiving parenting support during the focus break, and more.

We are confident that this restructuring initiative will not only be beneficial to students, but will also result in improved graduation rates and improved readiness for continuing education or careers. If you have any questions, please call Mrs. Searls at the Lincoln Learning Center at 279-5975 or Mrs. Koenemann at 279-5910 ext. 247.

The mission of Coldwater Community Schools is to provide a supportive and challenging learning environment where every student is prepared to succeed in a global community, and with the changes coming to CASL Academy, we feel we are setting students up for a successful future.

Dr. Tina Kerr is the Superintendent of Coldwater Community Schools and can be reached by email at tkerr@ccscards.org or by calling 517-279-5910. The main website for Coldwater Community Schools can be found at http://www.coldwaterschools.org.

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Kindergarten Registration Welcomes Future Coldwater Grads

It is that time of the year again, when we start preparing for the next school year. Coldwater Community Schools welcomes future CHS graduates of the class of 2027 who will be five years old on or before October 1, 2014, to Kindergarten registration for the district. Registration will occur by appointment on April 28 from 8am-8pm at Max Larsen Elementary School, April 29 from 8am-8pm at Max Larsen Elementary School, May 1 from 8am-8pm at Max Larsen Elementary School, and May 7 from 8am-2pm at Lincoln Learning Center.

Coldwater Community Schools is proud to offer a Kindergarten program that is developmentally appropriate for your child. Children with summer or fall birthdays may qualify for a Young Fives program which is designed to give the child an extra year in which to gain the maturity and skills necessary for a successful K-12 school experience. Our Kindergarten teachers specialize in providing a caring environment in which the child gains necessary social and academic skills to meet the challenges of reading, writing, math, the arts, physical education, technological literacy, social studies, and science.

At the time of registration, the enrolling parent will need to bring the child, his/her immunization record, official birth certificate from the county of birth, and proof of residency such as the parent’s driver’s license, utility bill, tax statement, or rental contract with the address and the parent’s name.

While parents complete registration forms, children will be given a brief assessment and will meet some of the teachers and other staff members at Coldwater Schools. It will be an enjoyable experience for your son or daughter and the beginning of a wonderful partnership as we work together to support your child.

If you have any questions, please contact the Max Larsen Elementary School Office at 517-279-5960.

Our mission is to provide a supportive and challenging learning environment where every student is prepared to succeed in a global community, and this process starts with our littlest learners. We’re excited to welcome a new class to our district and invite you to contact me if you have any questions while your child is in our district.

Dr. Tina Kerr is the Superintendent of Coldwater Community Schools and can be reached by email at tkerr@ccscards.org or by calling 517-279-5910. The main website for Coldwater Community Schools can be found at http://www.coldwaterschools.org.

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Coldwater MEAP Scores See Improvement In Every Category

Students at Coldwater Community Schools in grades 3-9 took the MEAP test in October. Math and reading are assessed every year through eighth grade. Writing is assessed in fourth and seventh grades, science in fifth and eighth grades, and social studies in sixth and ninth grades. Scores were just recently released to the public and compare the 2012/2013 MEAP tests to this year’s test.

We are happy to report improvement in almost every category. Significant work has been done district-wide in recent years to improve our curriculum and instruction. We will work relentlessly to continue to help our students make achievement gains.

This is the last year that the MEAP test will be given in Michigan. The state will adopt a new assessment for next school year. The new test will be aligned to the state-adopted Common Core State Standards for literacy and mathematics.

Another big change is that the test is moving from fall (based on previous year’s learning) to spring. The Michigan Department of Education is planning to move forward with Smarter Balanced Assessments, but other test vendors like ACT Aspire are still being considered by our legislature. Schools are waiting on a final decision.

All buildings are also looking carefully at the data of our subgroups (English Language Learners, economically disadvantaged, and students with disabilities). We are seeing improvement for these students in several content areas and grade levels.Highlights of the Coldwater Schools MEAP data are categorized by grades.

For fourth grade, there was a significant improvement in writing from 33% of students proficient last year to close to half were proficient this year. Improvement over last year of 2% proficient for all students in fourth grade math.

Fifth graders improved in math from 39% last year to 42% proficient this year. These same students also improved MEAP reading scores by approximately three percentage points. Fifth grade science proficiencies improved approximately 3% from last year.

Sixth grade math scores improved notably with 34% of students proficient last year and just over half were proficient this year. Coldwater sixth graders moved very close to the top ranking in the consortium (Barry, Calhoun, and Branch Counties) with only two districts placing above them.  These students placed above the consortium average and the state average.  Reading scores showed just over 65% of sixth grade students proficient last year, which was up 2% this year. Last year, just over a quarter of sixth graders were proficient in Social Studies, while this year that percentage grew to 30%.

MEAP scores this last indicated that 34% of Coldwater Schools seventh graders were proficient in math, while this year it showed an improvement to just over 40% proficiency. 59% of these same students tested proficient last year, which improved to 63% this year. Seventh graders were proficient in writing last year at the rate of 46% and showed significant increase this year to 65%.

Coldwater Schools eighth graders improved in reading 2% from 63% to 65% over last year.

We are pleased to see increasing math scores in our upper elementary grades. We adopted a new math resource, Everyday Math, last year and incorporated training for teachers in Math Recovery, a math intervention model.

Overall, we are pleased with the improvement and the major strides our staff has taken to improve these scores. By increasing scores on standardized tests, we are creating a foundation of growth and increased learning for students at Coldwater Community Schools which helps reinforce the district’s mission of providing a supportive and challenging learning environment where every student is prepared to succeed in a global community.

Dr. Tina Kerr is the Superintendent of Coldwater Community Schools and can be reached by email at tkerr@ccscards.org or by calling 517-279-5910. The main website for Coldwater Community Schools can be found at http://www.coldwaterschools.org.

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Healthy Teachers = Healthy Kids

Starting this month, Coldwater Community Schools will kick off a healthy living initiative in the district for the teachers and staff. As we’re all accustomed to making New Year’s resolutions, I’m encouraging our staff to take this opportunity to make some small changes in their lives to live healthier. I truly believe that healthier bodies promote healthier minds, and the impact we can have on our students because of this initiative is exciting.

The 90 Day Wellness Challenge will include a discounted three-month membership for interested staff at Coldwater Community Schools at Great Lakes Health and Fitness. We’re also receiving support from Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the provider of health insurance for the district, and the Branch County WeCan! initiative through MSU Extension and Branch County Great Start Collaborative. These agencies will be providing health information and encouragement for staff.

We will make it fun by rewarding staff based on the number of points they earn by adopting healthier habits such as eating fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, improving sleep habits, and incorporating movement into their day. Weekly prizes based on participation with mini-celebrations will be held as well. 

Teaching is a stressful profession, and educators sometimes forget to take care of themselves, so we’re really expecting this to be an opportunity for the staff to focus on their health. To have healthy kids, we need healthy teachers. Because students look to staff as mentors and role models, we want everyone to be at their best mentally and physically.

Dr. Tina Kerr is the Superintendent of Coldwater Community Schools and can be reached by email at tkerr@ccscards.org or by calling 517-279-5910. The main website for Coldwater Community Schools can be found at http://www.coldwaterschools.org.

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Community Understands Importance Of Education

In November, Coldwater Community Schools approached the community with a renewal millage to support the operation aspect of the district for the next 17 years. We provided you with the information, and the community spoke out loud and strong in support of the district, with approval in every precinct. Without this funding, we would have had to cut $5.5 million in revenue across the district, and we’re happy to say that is not what the voters wanted.

Because of this millage, Coldwater Community Schools will be able to continue to provide a high quality education for our students. Renewal for the operations of the school district will not be sought again until 2030. Since 2030 is a scheduled gubernatorial election year in Michigan, the district won’t have to pay special election costs the next time an operational millage renewal is sought.

Since the ratification of Proposal A in 1994, the state of Michigan has required local public school districts to levy no more than 18 mills in order to receive their maximum per-pupil foundation allowance. Throughout the months leading up to the vote, much discussion took place in the community about legislation for public schools. If you feel strongly about this issue, please contact our local legislators and congressmen.

On behalf of the 272 staff members and administrators, thank you for your trust and dedication to Coldwater Community Schools. We promise to be good stewards of the funds we receive, using it to fulfill the mission of the district to provide a supportive and challenging learning environment where every student is prepared to succeed in a global community.

Dr. Tina Kerr is the Superintendent of Coldwater Community Schools and can be reached by email at tkerr@ccscards.org or by calling 517-279-5910. The main website for Coldwater Community Schools can be found at http://www.coldwaterschools.org.

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November School Millage Supports Operation Of District

On November 5, thousands of residents in our school district will hit the polls to decide what is important in our community.  One of the items on the ballot will be the Coldwater Community Schools operational renewal millage. 

This is an important election for the district and without a successful millage election, Coldwater Community Schools will lose approximately $5.5 million in revenue annually, or approximately 22% of the current general fund budget. Services and programs like transportation and interscholastic athletics could be drastically cut back or eliminated if the millage isn’t passed.

I must emphasize, this is NOT an increase in the rate of taxation.  This is a 17-year renewal of the 18 mill operational millage for the district that was ratified in 1993 and has recently expired. If approved, renewal would not be sought until 2030.  Since the ratification of Proposal A in 1994, the state of Michigan has required local public school districts to levy no more than 18 mills in order to receive their maximum per-pupil foundation allowance.

HOW DOES THE MILLAGE AFFECT TAXPAYERS?

This is not an increase in the rate of taxation, and there will be no cost increase to homeowners.  This is a 17-year renewal of the 18 mill operational millage for Coldwater Community Schools that was originally approved for 20 years in 1993 and expired on July 1, 2013. If approved, the proposed millage would expire in 2030.  Principal residences are exempt. Properties such as apartment buildings, rental property, vacation properties, some vacant land, and commercial/industrial properties would see a continuation of the current millage rate.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE OPERATIONAL MILLAGE IS NOT APPROVED BY VOTERS?

Without a successful millage election, Coldwater Community Schools will lose approximately $5.5 million in revenue annually, or approximately 22% of the current general fund budget — the equivalent of 57 teachers being laid off, or 1/3 of our Professional Learning Community.

Passage of this millage proposal would allow Coldwater Community Schools to continue to build upon the student achievement programs and initiatives that have been introduced over the past few years in an ongoing effort to get our children ready for the future.

IF IT ISN’T A TAX INCREASE, WHY DOES THE BALLOT SAY “BE INCREASED BY 19.2346 MILLS”?

If you read the ballot language, you’ll notice what appears to be a tax increase – but it is not, technically speaking, a tax increase; it is listed as such because the district’s operating millage was reduced to zero by expiration of the current millage following the 2013 levy.

WHY 19.2346 MILLS?

The request for 19.2346 mills is the same millage rate that has been in place since 2006 and is actually less than the rate approved by voters in 2002. The current 19.2346 is made up of the original 18 mills and a .5 mill Headlee override, which have been reduced to 15.9837 and .4509, respectively, plus a 2.8 mill override first approved by voters in 2002.

ISN’T THE CURRENT LEVY 18 MILLS?

Yes; since the ratification of Proposal A in 1994, public school districts have been authorized to levy no more than 18 mills in order to receive their maximum per-pupil foundation allowance from the State of Michigan. If approved, the district will not levy more than 18 mills.

WHY 17 YEARS?

Since 2030 is a scheduled gubernatorial election year in Michigan, the district won’t have to pay special election costs the next time an operational millage renewal is sought.

Residents of the City of Coldwater will vote at the Dearth Center, located at the Branch County Fairgrounds. Township residents will vote at their township hall. For questions on polling places, please contact the County Clerk’s office at 279-4306 or visit: http://www.michigan.gov/vote

The passing of this millage will help reinforce the Coldwater Community School’s mission of providing a supportive and challenging learning environment where every student is prepared to succeed in a global community.

Dr. Tina Kerr is the Superintendent of Coldwater Community Schools and can be reached by email at tkerr@ccscards.org or by calling 517-279-5910. The main website for Coldwater Community Schools can be found at http://www.coldwaterschools.org.

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Love And Logic Classes Being Taught At Coldwater Schools

Coldwater Community Schools prides itself in maintaining great interaction and parent involvement in the school district to ensure academic success. Just as parents work to support us in our efforts, we are committed to working with parents to provide information and skills as they engage in the often tricky, sometimes frustrating, occasionally lonely job of parenting. Parenting deeply affects how our students interact, learn and grow while in school, and we want to help provide tools they can use at home.

Our new initiative, Love and Logic, is being facilitated by a team of community members and educators led by Dixie Koenemann, Coldwater Community Schools Executive Director of Special Programs and School Improvement. This team is now offering six-week series of classes in Love & Logic which will be scheduled for various times and in repeated sessions throughout the year.

The philosophy and set of skills for Love and Logic was developed by a school principal, Jim Fay, and a child psychologist, Foster Cline, MD, approximately 30 years ago. It is designed to assist parents, educators, and other community members in teaching responsibility, respect, and the ability to solve problems. Love and Logic provides simple solutions and practical techniques to help parents with kids of all ages to raise responsible kids, have more fun in their role, and easily and immediately (often in the first use of the strategy) change their children’s behavior. The classes will also be taught to educators and administrators so they can learn how to spend more time teaching and less time disciplining students. It reduces stress levels and brings back the enjoyment of teaching.

Parents want to enjoy their kids, have fun with them, and enjoy a less stressful family life. But even if their kids are trouble-free right now, they fear what the coming teenage years will bring.

At no time in history have parents been more unsure of their parental role. Even the best are not all that sure about whether they are using the best techniques. They say that their kids don’t appear to be much like the ones they knew in years past.

A lot of conflicting philosophies have been presented over the last 30 years. Many of these sound good, but don’t seem to do the job of helping children become respectful, responsible, and a joy to be around.  Many ideas, offered with the best of intentions, center around making sure that kids are comfortable and feeling good about themselves in order to have a good self-concept. However, it has been discovered that self-confidence is achieved through struggle and achievement, not through someone telling you that you are number one. Self-confidence is not developed when kids are robbed of the opportunity to discover that they can indeed solve their own problems with caring adult guidance.

Love and Logic’s approach to raising kids provides loving support from parents while at the same time expecting kids to be respectful and responsible.  The Love & Logic approach is kind, low drama, and effective. The coursework is very enjoyable and learning is done through stories and shared experiences.  It is not expected that every adult will adopt every practice taught, but only that adults will experiment with the various strategies to find what works with each specific child and in each particular setting.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Coldwater has collaborated with the district in bringing Love & Logic to our community and we are grateful to them in forming this partnership with us. In addition, grant money has been secured for financial support of this initiative. Information related to these series will be available on our district website and brochures will soon be available at various locations throughout the community.

To learn more about Love & Logic, see http://loveandlogic.com.

Providing learning opportunities for parents and staff helps to reinforce the district’s mission of providing a supportive and challenging learning environment where every student is prepared to succeed in a global community.

Dr. Tina Kerr is the Superintendent of Coldwater Community Schools and can be reached by email at tkerr@ccscards.org or by calling 517-279-5910. The main website for Coldwater Community Schools can be found at http://www.coldwaterschools.org.

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