Holmes asking for donations to retain 2 learning-aid programs

       Facing the loss of two key supplemental learning programs, Holmes Middle School Principal Rob Utter is appealing to the public for $15,000 in donations to keep them going.

Conducted by instrumental music teacher Jeremiah Fowler, the Holmes Middle School seventh-grade Concert Band performs Dec. 9. A large crowd turned out for the show (which also included the eighth-grade Symphonic Band), despite temperatures near zero degrees.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The two are the Tutorial program and Homework Help. The former provides extra, individualized reading and math assistance during the school day, while the latter pays teachers to be available for an hour after school to work with students who have trouble handling homework assignments.
       Both programs have been in place for several years, and through them, “we have been able to meet the needs of numerous struggling students,” according to a report from Utter in a recent school newsletter.
       Additionally, he added in an interview this week, the resulting academic gains can be seen in the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) testing, in which Holmes is routinely among the top-scoring middle schools in the state.
       Utter said that more than 200 students are scheduled into Tutorials, while an average of 30 students a week take advantage of the optional Homework Help.
       Much of the Tutorial funding used to come from District 11 - part of it via an annual bonus that would go to high-performing schools. But District 11, needing to cut spending, is not able to provide those funds any longer. Grants and donations - including a single private gift of $10,000 last year - covered the Homework costs in the past, but this year “our grants have been cut in half and we haven't gotten any donations,” Utter said.
       The last of the Homework Help money was scheduled to run out Dec. 10, while the Tutorial program only has enough to continue until the end of the third quarter, he said.
       The concern is that without either or both programs, many students will have trouble keeping up. Teachers do their best to provide individual help during classes, but in a school of 740 students with classroom sizes averaging about 30 students, that isn't always possible, the principal said.
       For more information, on donating, call Utter directly at 328-3802, the school Counseling Center at 328-3810 or budget secretary Joyce Hollingsworth at 328-3815.

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