2016-17 School District Calendar

We are in the final stages of approving a calendar for the coming school year but since many of you are trying to make plans, I wanted to share some of the key dates and events with you at this time. A suitable one-page calendar will be provided to you by the end of this school year.

First, it’s important to note that some changes will occur as a result of new laws by our legislature governing the minimum number of school days required starting this year. The state now mandates that all schools schedule a minimum of 180 days of school along with the previous requirement of 1,098 instructional hours. Most school districts including ours are required to change to this minimum requirement this coming fall but some that have existing contracts with their teachers’ unions will be allowed to wait until those contracts expire before doing so.

The second major difference stems from the fact we are obligated by state law to follow a common county calendar for the Christmas/New Year holiday and spring break. The county decided this year that the traditional Christmas/New Year break would be shortened because of the additional school days most districts have to add to the calendar. By not shortening the break, our school year would extend another week into June when the temperature is often too warm in our classrooms making it difficult to keep the focus on learning. Therefore, instead of the traditional two full weeks at Christmas/New Years (16 days), our break will run from December 23 through January 2 (11 days). School will resume after the break on Tuesday, January 3.

The third major change will be an added number of half (1/2) days of school due to the increase in number of overall school days. There are several reasons why we needed to do this despite knowing it’s not always convenient for parents. The biggest reason was to avoid significant added costs to the district as a result of adding three more school days to our calendar. At a time when Lansing is failing to adequately fund K-12 public schools — ours in particular — we sometimes have to take less-than-desirable steps to keep costs under control so more cuts do not have be made to our classrooms.

So here are some key school-year dates to help you plan ahead (tentative until final approval of the calendar is made by our teachers’ union and the Board of Education; subject to change):

Tuesday, September 6 – School begins (1st trimester)

Friday, October 21 – 1/2 day of school

Monday, October 31 – 1/2 day of school

November 23-25 – Thanksgiving Break (no school)

November 28 and 29 – 1/2 days of school (secondary exams)

Wednesday, November 30 – No school (teacher record and PD day)

Thursday, December 1 – 2nd trimester begins

December 21 and 22 – 1/2 days of school

December 23 through January 2 – Christmas/New Year Break

Tuesday, January 3 – School resumes

Monday, January 16 – M.L. King Jr. Birthday, no school

Friday, February 3 – 1/2 day of school

Monday, February 20 – Washington’s Birthday (celebrated), no school

March 8 and 9 – 1/2 days of school (secondary exams)

Friday, March 10 – No school (teacher record and PD day)

Monday, March 13 – 3rd trimester begins

Friday, March 17 – 1/2 day of school

March 31 through April 7 – Spring Break

Monday, April 10 – School resumes

Thursday, May 25 – 93rd Commencement Exercises for the Class of 2017

Monday, May 29 – Memorial Day, no school

June 12 and 13 – 1/2 days of school (secondary exams)

June 13 – end of school year (subject to change)

List of Early Release Fridays (students released 2 hours early for teacher work sessions): Sep 16, 30, Oct 14, 28, Nov 11, Dec 9, Jan 6, 20, Feb 17, Mar 3, Apr 14, 28, May 12, 26, Jun 9

Please remember that this is a tentative listing of key dates and a final calendar will be sent out and posted here (as well as on our district website) as soon as possible.


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Dear LHS Class of 2016

I sit here on a beautiful sunny spring Friday morning reflecting on last night’s Senior Capstone Exhibition and I can’t help but marvel at your creativity, determination, preparation, presentation and appearance. You did something that in the past has rarely been asked of our students accustomed to sitting in classrooms, consuming information, and repeating it on written tests: You selected a topic you were passionate about, applied your knowledge and skills along with research, and demonstrated to us what you learned by making, creating, and doing. It was an engaging evening and I saw many of you in a whole new light, leading me to believe that the world of tomorrow is in good hands.

Our senior project has been around for at least the past eight years beginning with a simple research paper,  but last night you took it to a whole new level. You should take pride in knowing you’ve made an impact on your school that will benefit younger students who follow in your path for years to come. This year we’ve already begun seeing other examples of even our youngest students designing, creating, making and doing in a variety of different learning spaces,  but you’ve provided a new target that redefines for us what “capstone” is meant to be:

…a capstone project is a multifaceted assignment that serves as a culminating academic and intellectual experience for students…Capstone projects are generally designed to encourage students to think critically, solve challenging problems, and develop skills such as oral communication, public speaking, research skills, media literacy, teamwork, planning, self-sufficiency, or goal setting—i.e., skills that will help prepare them for college, modern careers, and adult life. In most cases, the projects are also interdisciplinary, in the sense that they require students to apply skills or investigate issues across many different subject areas or domains of knowledge. ~ http://edglossary.org/capstone-project/

I like to think that the success of last night is the mark of a unique Lee High School class that will almost certainly experience success as you walk out of school for the last time this coming week. I feel I share a bond with a significant number of you that began the day you entered pre-school at the Early Childhood Center. That was also the day I came home to the community I grew up in and began my journey as a Godfrey-Lee administrator. You were the first class of students to move into our new 6th Grade Campus and were part of the leading edge of technology integration into nearly every phase of your learning since. As one of the largest ever graduating classes at Lee High School, you were an important part of our district’s effort to elevate learning and achievement so that your high school would no longer be considered at the bottom of the state’s ranking system. You did it along with your teachers and with the support of your parents, so now you are well-positioned to leave here with the knowledge and skills you need to achieve your dreams.

I won’t pretend that all of you are at the same level of readiness for the world ahead, but where you are at this moment is not all that important. What is important is for you to realize that each of you has talents and gifts you can now build on to choose whatever path will guide you to your dreams. Just because you are not the top student in the class is not a barrier to what you can yet become. Like all humans, you have great potential that you have not yet realized and the more you believe in yourself and confront head-on any challenges that will continue to shape your destiny, the more pleasure and satisfaction you’ll derive along the way. It won’t always be easy because life has a way of testing our resolve. However, I believe the Rebel way of life and the education you’ve achieved so far has set you on a road to potential success.

On behalf of the Board of Education, administration, faculty, staff and the Godfrey-Lee community, I wish you well and look forward to shaking your hand one last time at graduation.

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Board of Education Election Filing Deadline

The Godfrey-Lee Public Schools Board of Education will be seeking two (2) qualified candidates for membership to the board during this year’s November 8th general election.

The Board of Education, within the powers delegated to it by law, is a policy making legislative branch for the school district and exits for the purpose of providing a system of free, public education for children in grades K through 12.

The Board has the dual responsibility for implementing statutory requirements pertaining to public education and for meeting the desires of residents. While the Board has an obligation to determine and assess citizen desires, it is understood that when the voters elect delegates to represent them in the conduct of specified educational programs, they, at the same time, are endowed with the authority to exercise their best judgment in determining policies, making decisions, and approving procedures for carrying out the responsibility. ~ ByLaw 0123

Candidates who wish to seek office for the school board must file an Affidavit of Identity and a Nominating Petition no later than 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at the Wyoming City Clerk’s Office located at 1155 28th Street in Wyoming, Michigan. Election packets will be available at the district Administration Offices or at the Wyoming City Clerk’s office.

2013-11-18 12.56.31

Any interested candidate must be a registered voter residing within the Godfrey-Lee Public Schools boundaries. Petitions for candidacy must contain a minimum of 6, but no more than 20 signatures. A $100 non-refundable filing fee may be filed by the candidate in lieu of a petition.

The term for each seat will run from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2021. Board of Education members are expected to attend meetings approximately twice each month (this varies) and special meetings which will be called as needed.

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“One Wyoming” wants your input

[Versión en Español abajo]

One Wyoming, a collaborative of area churches, schools, businesses and government, is asking for your input to help them understand how you feel about your city, and identify how to make it a better place for all of us to live. All individual answers will remain confidential.

This is a great opportunity to express your desires for your neighborhood, the Godfrey-Lee community, and the city as a whole. A similar survey is being conducted in other Wyoming communities, as well.

You can take this short survey at the following links designated specifically for Wyoming residents who live in the Godfrey-Lee area:

English: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/onewyomingglps


One Wyoming, un área colaborativa de iglesias, escuelas, negocios y gobierno,  está solicitando su punto de vista, para ayudarles  a entender cómo se siente usted acerca de su ciudad e identificar cómo  hacerla un lugar mejor para vivir para todos nosotros. Todas las respuestas individuales permanecerán confidenciales.

Esta es una gran oportunidad para expresar sus deseos para su colonia, la comunidad de Godfrey-Lee y la ciudad en su totalidad.  Una encuesta similar se está llevando a cabo también en otras comunidades de Wyoming.

Usted puede llenar esta encuesta corta  en los enlaces siguientes:

Spanish: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/onewyomingglpsspanish


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Superintendent Performance Survey Results

Several weeks back, I asked the district staff to complete a 26-item survey as to how they felt I had performed at least in the last year in each of the various areas. The final item is an overall performance rating.

This feedback is invaluable to me as I focus on areas of needed growth in the coming year. The survey will also be considered by our Board of Education as it completes my annual evaluation.

The results of the survey are in PDF format and are provided for your review by clicking on the following link.

Superintendent’s Performance Survey for 2015-16

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Graduation Rates: The Full Story

The State of Michigan has released the graduation rates for the cohort Class of 2014-15 and overall they continue to climb.

Reports by local media tend to show a district’s combined graduation rate, lumping together all of the high schools within a district, including those designed to provide an alternative pathway to a high school diploma or GED for students who for many reasons were not successful at their home school.

The chart below depicts the 4, 5 and 6 year graduation rates for those students in our district who graduated in 2015. As you can clearly see, the rates continue to improve overall but don’t tell the full story for each high school.

District All Years Trend

Lee High School, which has experienced significant growth as well as a substantial cultural change since the dawn of the 21st century, continues a strong 4-year on-time graduation trend as the chart below depicts. Considering that the community battles with the highest child poverty rate in the county and our extraordinary staff works to help many limited-English-proficient students meet success, we should be proud of what our students, parents and staff accomplish each year!

LHS 4 Year TrendThe trend for Lee High School’s graduation rate continues to be higher than the statewide graduation rate as the following two charts indicate:

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 5.35.50 PMEast Lee Campus is a non-traditional high school that provides many young men and women with what often is their last chance to successfully complete high school or prepare for the GED test. This school is an “open enrollment” campus that allows students who have dropped out or find they are struggling due to a number of life’s circumstances to return to the classroom. Many are already behind in their education and it isn’t unusual for students to take an additional year or two to complete their graduation requirements. We believe the opportunity we provide these students is invaluable and contributes positively to the community and Greater Grand Rapids area at large. The federal and state government and many of our citizens, however, don’t always see it that way and prefer to label our district as sub-standard or failing. Little do they know.

The chart below illustrates the 4-year graduation rate at East Lee but as I pointed out, it’s unfair to brand the school as anything but exemplary given that most students arrive there behind in their respective educations. Because it’s not unusual for a student to need a 5th year to get on track and successfully complete the Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements for graduation, the next subsequent slide shows the positive 5-year trend for graduates through 2015.

ELC 4 Year Trend

ELC 5 Year TrendAs you can see from the chart below, the trend has accelerated significantly since 2010 but actually, it has been improving since the graduation rate was sort of drifting along hit bottom in 2009-10, as the next chart shows. At that point, we made some changes and much of this improvement is attributable to effective leadership and the hard work of staff and students to rebrand the school and develop a more rigorous academic and job skills focus. Since those changes, the improvement has been very positive.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 5.54.47 PM

This chart is a similar trend chart as the one above but for the four years preceding. If you follow this one to the one above it, you will get an idea of the dramatic turnaround at East Lee Campus these past seven years.

We’re proud of our high schools (as we are of all our schools) and the success they are achieving! We’re very excited for the future of our students who have been demonstrating time and again they have what it takes to overcome many obstacles they face and reach their educational goals and life dreams.

If you wish to examine this data in more detail or look at other data for our district, state or any school in the state, you can go to http://www.mischooldata.org.

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Should we revisit our school starting times?


Several years ago, the district did a preliminary study on the benefits of switching to a later daily starting time along with some of the attitudes of students, parents and staff towards the idea. There did not appear at the time sufficient support to move forward on switching to a later starting time but more and more health and education officials are clamoring for it, with study after study now showing the positive effects of school bells aligning more with student sleep cycles, particularly at the middle and high school levels.

I’d like to share the following links so that you can be informed of the value and inherent obstacles of changing to a later start time.

Students find more awareness with later starts


So in a state where most high schools start before 8 a.m., Nauset school officials in 2012 did the unthinkable: They pushed their start time back to 8:35 a.m., giving students an extra hour to sleep in.

The results were instantaneous, administrators say. More students showed up to school refreshed. Tardiness fell by 35 percent, and the number of Ds and Fs dropped by half.

Now, several high schools across Massachusetts are exploring whether to follow suit. The push for later start times is emerging in such districts as Belmont, Boston, Masconomet, Mashpee, Newton, and Wayland. The state Legislature is considering a bill to study the issue statewide.


In more than 40 states, at least 75 percent of public schools start earlier than 8:30 a.m., according to the CDC’s report. And while later start times won’t replace other important interventions—like parents making sure their children get enough rest—schools clearly play an important role in students’ daily schedules, the report concluded.


The changes are a culmination of a yearslong campaign by parents, teachers and sleep scientists, who advocated for changing school start times to better match teens’ biological clocks. The Seattle teachers union supported the changes.

“The proposal to change bell times is the result of a research-based community initiative,” the union said. “It will improve learning, health and equity for thousands of Seattle students.”


Classes should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., there should be a minimum of 11 hours between the end of the last scheduled school-sponsored activity and the start of school the next day, and homework needs to be limited.


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