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Timeline of the Transformation

Transforming a school district doesn’t happen overnight. This interactive timeline documents steps taken by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) and Battle Creek Public Schools (BCPS) prior to the start of and throughout the development of the district’s transformation. By scrolling through this page, you can see how progress has been made toward racial equity, how the community has become involved, partnerships established and what has gone into improving educational outcomes for the district’s students.

February 2017

Educational Equity Study Reveals Disparities in Battle Creek

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A New York University study — commissioned by BCVision to examine the community’s education system — unearthed significant disinvestments in Battle Creek Public Schools (BCPS), which compared to surrounding districts has higher needs and fewer resources. The study revealed that racial bias and segregation, compounded by income inequality, had concentrated poverty in BCPS among people of color, causing further economic and racial divisions.

Related Page: Racial Equity

February 2017
Spring 2017

W. K. Kellogg Foundation Announces $51 Million Grant to BCPS

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On May 5, 2017, WKKF President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron announced a five-year, $51 million investment in BCPS to transform the BCPS district and ensure that all children in the foundation’s hometown receive a high quality education.

Related Page: Background

Spring 2017
Spring/Summer 2017

First Year of Summer Kindergarten Preparation Program

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In summer 2017, 130 students attended the first year of the free summer kindergarten preparation program, now known as the Kindergarten Success Program (KSP). The program provides five weeks of free full-time, play-based instruction to help students start kindergarten ready to succeed.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

Spring/Summer 2017
Fall 2017

Outdoor Education Center Reopens to BCPS Students

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In fall 2017, grant dollars made possible reinstatement of outdoor programming for students in every grade at BCPS. These programs, including fifth and sixth grade camp, farm animal day programming for kindergarten and first grade, and summer day camp for all grades, had previously been put on hold for BCPS students because of budget shortfalls.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

Fall 2017
Summer-Fall 2017

New K-5 Math Curriculum Developed

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Using WKKF grant dollars, a working group of BCPS teachers and staff identified shortcomings in existing math curricula and materials and worked together to find and roll out a solution. In the summer of 2017, the group selected and developed teacher tools to implement Math Expressions, an evidence-based math curriculum that helps children make sense of math by exploring, discussing and demonstrating their understanding of key concepts. The curriculum was rolled out that fall.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

Summer-Fall 2017
Spring 2017

Teacher Retention Incentives Introduced

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WKKF grant funds enabled BCPS to start a set of incentives to improve overall teacher compensation and teacher retention. At that time, teacher turnover was high, as salary increases had been frozen and the district was losing staff to nearby districts who offered more competitive compensation. New programs included a retention bonus, supplementary stipend for teaching at a priority school, incentive bonus for near-perfect attendance and reimbursement for continuing education.

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Related Page: Excellence in Education

Spring 2017
Spring/Summer 2017

Communications Assessment and Planning

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With support from the WKKF communications team and communications partners Fenton and Burrell, BCPS engaged in focus groups, one-on-one interviews and an evaluation survey to more deeply understand parent, staff and community perceptions and priorities. These findings informed the district’s plans and how it communicates with various stakeholders, in part to improve the district’s reputation in the community, engage parents and increase trust with students, families, staff and the community.

Related Page: Community Engagement and Partnerships

Spring/Summer 2017
Summer 2017

Director of District Transformation Hired

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BCPS hired Anita Harvey as the director of district transformation to help oversee the changes happening at BCPS. In this position, Harvey directs teams of administrators, teachers, parents and students to revamp early childhood education, student services, district operations, after-school programs, curriculum development, family and community engagement and teacher support.

Summer 2017
Fall 2017

BCPS Alternative High School Relaunches as W.K. Kellogg Preparatory Academy

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Originally opened in fall of 2016, the district’s high school offering students a flexible schedule and individualized education model re-launched in the fall of 2017 as W.K. Kellogg Preparatory High School, where students can gain a high school diploma in a non-traditional setting.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

Fall 2017
Fall 2017

Transformational Teacher Institute Launches

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BCPS introduced the Transformational Teacher Institute (TTI) to provide educational opportunities to teachers in seven paid “institutes” that cover different areas of interest, each with eight professional development sessions. Topics include data-informed practices, literacy support, early warning systems and more. The program was created to help improve compensation and professional learning opportunities by offering paid professional supports. It was designed to help reduce teacher turnover, but also help strengthen the district’s teaching practices and boost academic achievement.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

Fall 2017
Fall 2017

First Bearcat Coaches Hired

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As part of the district’s commitment to equity, the position of security staff was transformed into a new role: the Bearcat coach. Former security guards were trained in de-escalation, mentorship, restorative practices and tactics for building trusting relationships. As Bearcat coaches, they carry a caseload of students who may benefit from an additional nurturing adult relationship and serve as a first point of contact for teachers with students who need extra behavioral support.

Related Page: Racial Equity

Fall 2017
2017-18

BCPS Hires Family Advocates

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In response to community and parent input, BCPS hired a team of family advocates to serve as liaisons between students’ families and schools. The liaisons build trusting relationships through home visits, help make referrals to community resources and ensure that parent feedback and needs are addressed at schools.

Related Page: Community Engagement and Partnerships

2017-18
2017

Bearcat Health Program Launches

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The district launched the Bearcat Health program as a unique partnership to support the district’s highest need students, by bringing together healthcare, mental health, social services and justice system partners. These 11 agencies and organizations collaborate to ensure all students and families get the support they need.

Related Page: Community Engagement and Partnerships

2017
2017

BCPS Launches Believe in the Change Marketing Campaign

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As part of a broader effort to shift community perceptions and spread the word of all of the positive impacts of district transformation, BCPS launched Believe in the Change, using billboards, radio, print and social media advertising to spread the word about additional opportunities available at BCPS thanks to the transformation.

Related Page: Community Engagement and Partnerships

2017
Fall 2017

Revisions Completed to Elementary, Middle and High School English Language Arts and Math Curricula

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BCPS revised math and English language arts (ELA) curricula to improve academic achievement outcomes and ensure that teachers have a clear understanding of expectations and an explicit roadmap for success.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

Fall 2017
Fall 2017

Early Middle College Program Begins

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To help improve opportunities for BCPS students to succeed in higher education, the district launched the Early Middle College Program to allow students to earn a high school diploma and either an associate’s degree from Kellogg Community College or up to 60 transferable college credits.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

Fall 2017
Early 2018

Launch of Monthly Community Newsletters and Weekly Staff Email Newsletters

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With assistance from communications partners, in early 2018 BCPS began publishing a monthly district-wide newsletter in both the local free English and Spanish weekly papers to improve community understanding of the positive milestones happening at BCPS and the impact of the transformation. BCPS also started a weekly internal staff email newsletter to improve trust and transparency between district leaders and school staff.

Related Page: Community Engagement and Partnerships

Early 2018
2017-18

Reading Tutors and Specialists Hired

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The district continued its focus on literacy, placing 40 tutors in its K-2 classrooms and six certified reading specialists in every elementary building to support literacy instruction.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

2017-18
2017-18

Behavior Interventionists Hired for Every School

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As part of a broader effort to help introduce trauma-informed practices and relieve pressure on teachers grappling with classroom management and school climate, BCPS hired a masters level specialist in child behavioral psychology and response for each school. When teachers experience challenging behaviors, they can set up one-on-one meetings to discuss the child and learn what tools or tactics the specialist recommends to best manage that student’s needs.

Related Page: Racial Equity

2017-18
March 2018

Housing Incentives Introduced

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One of the district’s toughest challenges was retaining teachers past their first year on the job due to long commutes and the availability of jobs in other areas. Of the 67 new teachers the district hired in the 2017–18 school year, 13% resigned. To tackle this hurdle, the district introduced a housing incentive program in March 2018. Through WKKF funds, and in partnership with the City of Battle Creek, teachers who buy or own a home in the BCPS district area could receive funds for a down payment or renovation.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

March 2018
2017-18

Start of New Partnership with National Equity Project

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In year one of the transformation, BCPS restructured its partnership with the National Equity Project (NEP), an organization dedicated to helping leaders increase their awareness of equity issues and providing practical approaches to better understand people with different backgrounds, cultures and experiences. Through the partnership, BCPS teachers receive unconscious bias training, study culturally-relevant teaching practices and learn to make stronger connections with all students based on their individual backgrounds and experiences.

Related Page: Racial Equity

2017-18
August 2018

Communications Manager Hired

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BCPS hired a communications manager to continue expanding the communications capacity of the district. The manager keeps staff, parents and the community informed about changes taking place across the district, increases transparency and parent trust, and spreads the word about the positive opportunities available in the district.

Related Page: Community Engagement and Partnerships

August 2018
Fall 2018

Attendance Campaign Launches

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Because school attendance is so closely linked to academic achievement, the district made improving attendance and reducing the number of chronically absent students a priority. The district’s campaign encouraged students and families to miss fewer than five school days per year. The communications campaign included social media ads, yard signs, billboards, public banners and posters in schools and around town. The district also implemented school-level improvement plans and attendance teams, explored the root causes of absenteeism and reached out to help families maintain high attendance for students.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

Fall 2018
Fall 2018

Career Academies Launches at High School

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Launched with incoming students of the Class of 2022 at Battle Creek Central High School, the career academies model creates small learning communities within the high school where all students join an academy and receive instruction tailored to their interests, while developing the skills they need to excel in school, the workforce and beyond. A working group of 150 community members, including parents, teachers, students, community representatives, local businesses leaders and WKKF staff members, helped shape the model, selecting pathways that match the needs of the community.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

Fall 2018
2018-19

Restorative Conversations Introduced

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To ensure that the district’s approaches to student discipline are trauma-informed, BCPS implemented a range of restorative justice policies to improve school climate. Staff trainings have focused on using restorative conversations to de-escalate conflict, repair relationships, help to prevent future challenges and build more positive school climates.

Related Page: Racial Equity

2018-19
Fall 2018

Student Success Centers Open in All Schools

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BCPS implemented student success centers in all schools as an alternative to exclusionary practices like suspension and expulsion. These spaces provide a positive space for students when classroom intervention isn’t an option, helping students to learn to regulate their emotions in a safe and comfortable space.

Related Page: Racial Equity

Fall 2018
Fall 2018

Accelerated Reader Program Launches

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As part of the commitment to improve student literacy, the district utilized WKKF grant funds to revamp its K-8 reading curriculum with “Accelerated Reader,” a self-paced online reading program that students can use to read and measure comprehension.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

Fall 2018
May 2019

GVSU Partnership Launches

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In spring of 2019, WKKF, Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and BCPS announced a new partnership — made possible by a $15.5 million WKKF investment — to help strengthen the economic vitality of the Battle Creek community, ensuring all children and families thrive. GVSU and BCPS announced they would work together to provide middle- and high-school students with pathways to high-paying, high demand jobs in health and education careers, provide BCPS teachers with professional development and mentorship opportunities and create a pipeline of talented educators in Battle Creek.

Related Page: Community Engagement and Partnerships

May 2019
June 2019

Three-Year Teacher Contract is Signed

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The historic three-year Battle Creek Education Association (BCEA) contract guaranteed annual compensation increases for BCPS teachers for the first time in more than 15 years. Prior to this contract, declining enrollment had reduced funding, which stagnated teacher salaries and led to pay freezes. The contract included the reinstatement of step salary increases for all teachers during each of the three years, and two additional “make up” step increases over the course of the agreement for teachers who missed step increases in the past because of pay freezes. The goal is to improve retention and help BCPS attract new, top-tier teaching talent and better compete with neighboring districts.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

June 2019
Spring/Summer 2019

Data Further Validates Academic Impacts of Kindergarten Success Program

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For the second consecutive year, students who attended the Kindergarten Success Program — a full-time free summer program hosted by BCPS — tested higher and had higher attendance rates in kindergarten than students who did not attend. First graders who attended scored at the 45th percentile on the Northwest Evaluation Association test in reading, compared scores in the 28th percentile for students who did not.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

Spring/Summer 2019
Fall 2019

BCPS reopens Fremont Elementary as International Baccalaureate Candidate School

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Three years after Fremont Elementary School was closed because of budget shortfalls, BCPS reopened the school as Fremont International Academy, an academically rigorous magnet school for K-3 students, with the goal of expanding over time to become a K-5 school. The school’s curriculum and design are based on the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme model, for which the school is in the process of becoming officially certified. The school filled up as soon as it opened and has remained one of the most popular new programs in the district.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

Fall 2019
Fall 2019

Battle Creek STEM Innovation Center Opens

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In a major milestone for the district, BCPS opened its new Battle Creek STEM Innovation Center (BC STEM) middle school — planned for grades 6-8. The immersive STEM-focused education at the school aims to prepare students for fast-growing career opportunities in STEM fields, as well as help them become creative thinkers. The school filled up as soon as it opened and has remained one of the most popular new programs in the district.

Related Page: Excellence in Education

Fall 2019
Late Summer 2019

BCPS Designated as Ford Next Generation Learning Community

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At a special designation ceremony, BCPS was named a Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) Community for its career academies program at BCCHS. Ford NGL mobilizes communities to prepare young people to graduate from high school ready for college, careers and life. In order to be selected as a Ford NGL community, BCPS developed a three-year master plan to ensure that all BCCHS students are learning in career academies and that the structures and processes are in place to engage local and regional employers and civic leaders in supporting and sustaining these academies.

Related Page: Community Engagement and Partnerships

Late Summer 2019
Spring/Summer 2019

BCPS Awarded Funds from Marshall Plan for Talent

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In June 2019, BCPS, with support from GVSU, was awarded $842,858 in grant funds from the state of Michigan through the Marshall Plan for Talent (MPT), which aims to fund educational initiatives that will help students explore in-demand careers and address the skills gap in Michigan. In the application process, GVSU and BCPS pulled together a consortium of more than 25 community leaders. Out of 30 applications, BCPS was one of 13 groups to be awarded the competitive grant. In partnership with GVSU, WKKF and Kellogg Community College, the MPT grant would later fund the construction of a new health care simulation lab at BCPS, the only one of its kind in the region, which opened in fall of 2020.

Related Page: Community Engagement and Partnerships

Spring/Summer 2019
Fall 2019

Communities in Schools Partnership Launches

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BCPS leaders built the district’s family outreach system through a new partnership with Communities in Schools (CIS), replacing the former family advocate model. CIS school-based site coordinators (many of them former family advocates) refer families to community resources so students can focus on learning. CIS increases access to resources like food assistance, transportation assistance, laundry vouchers, mental health and medical services and dental care to help remove barriers for vulnerable students and improve attendance and academic achievement.

Related Page: Community Engagement and Partnerships

Fall 2019
November 2019

Guidebook for Trauma-Informed Schools is Released

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The Guidebook for Creating Trauma-Informed Schools was created to give teachers clear guidance on how to incorporate a trauma-informed approach into their classrooms and establish processes and procedures for supporting students. The guidebook offers scenario-based flowcharts, while offering useful resources for staff like referral forms for students requiring additional support and reflection questions for assessing intervention.

Related Page: Racial Equity

November 2019
December 2019

New BCPS Website Launches

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BCPS launched a new website to improve communication and transparency with families. The new site features pages for each school and program with detailed information, an updated events calendar and a news page where the district can provide regular updates.

Related Page: Community Engagement and Partnerships

December 2019
January 2020

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Applauds BCPS Career Academies Model

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In a January 2020 visit to Battle Creek Central High School, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a “Don’t Stop” post-secondary roundtable discussion with students, as part of her statewide initiative to encourage Michiganders to pursue higher education and skilled trade certification. She spoke about the need to reduce unemployment and build up the state’s workforce and praised the school’s career academy program as a promising approach to filling essential gaps in the local workforce and helping students graduate with a jump start into college and careers.

Related Page: Community Engagement and Partnerships

January 2020
March 2020

COVID-19 Hits Battle Creek

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On March 10, the first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in Michigan and Gov. Whitmer declared a state of emergency. Just six days later, schools across the state were required to close and move to distance learning. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unforeseen hardships to students and families across the community, and BCPS leaned into its unique strengths, including its forward-thinking leadership, enhanced communication capacity, dedication to students, engagement with families, ability to embrace new technology and ideas, energized partners and increasing trust within the community.

March 2020
March 17, 2020

COVID-19 Community Meals Program Launches

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Within days of the state-mandated shutdown, BCPS implemented a robust food distribution program, providing breakfast and lunches three days a week (each with enough to last until the following pick up day). For families who couldn’t get to a pick up site, Communities in Schools also stepped in to coordinate meal delivery.

Related Pages: Racial Equity, Community Engagement and Partnerships

March 17, 2020
June 2020

Historic Technology Investment Approved by BCPS Board

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BCPS announced it would invest an additional $1.5 million in new technology devices to close the digital divide. This investment was made just a few months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when shifts to remote learning revealed the inequities in access to technology within the community. Superintendent Kimberly Carter said the goal was to make sure the district has enough devices for every student.

Related Page: Racial Equity

June 2020

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