Dr. Applegate's Letter to Community - October 2015
The new school year began several weeks ago, but I can still sense the excitement as I walk through the hallways and into our classrooms.

As fall approaches and our students settle into their daily routine, I thought it would be an opportune time to share my goals for the school year. The board and I have worked hard to identify the district’s needs and generate productive goals to achieve this year. As residents might expect, I’ll be seeking input from the entire school community as well as support in reaching these goals, because we will be far more effective working collectively than working individually.

Delivering a high-quality educational experience to our students is our top priority. To that end, I want to hold students to high standards through a rigorous curriculum while exposing them to effective research-based instructional strategies. As I have mentioned previously, to reach this goal we will begin providing professional development to support the implementation of Marzano’s research-based strategies and continue aligning our curricular efforts to the common core.

My plan is to develop a consistent set of metrics to gauge the impact of actions on student achievement and then report on these metrics so the community can monitor our progress.

One of my goals is to improve the image of the district. To that end, I, and my administrative staff, plan to be more visible in and available to the community. I want to repair, sustain, and build relationships that will help us meet the needs of our students. We will continue to work with local service agencies to provide fun, innovative and educational experiences for our children.

If you see me or a fellow administrator out in the community, I would encourage you to say hello, share your thoughts on Niles Community Schools and ask us how you can support the district and the children we are privileged to serve moving forward.

Considering the support we received from the community in passing the bond last May, another of my goals is to ensure we maintain a balanced budget and are fiscally responsible and transparent with how the district spends the bond money. At our monthly board meetings over the next four years, we will report on our progress in terms of the positive changes occurring across the district, as well as details on costs relative to construction in our schools. We have created a link on our website where you can follow the events and transactions relative to the bond. There is also a place to leave a comment for consideration.

My last goal is to use the experience I have gained during my 20 years as an educator to lead the district, work collaboratively with all members of the Niles School Community to sustain the momentum that has been built over the past 18 months, make informed decisions, and build the capacity of our staff as leaders. I plan to reach this goal by maintaining focus on students and best practices when making decisions.

As mentioned, I will invite staff, parents, and other stakeholders to provide feedback before making decisions. Additionally, I am encouraging the use of Professional Learning Communities to build capacity and foster leadership skills in certified staff.

I want to build my own capacity by attending professional development opportunities for leaders to better serve the community. I also will be putting a plan in place to recruit, hire, and retain high quality personnel, as the success of our students, and ultimately our community, is dependent on teachers who inspire and engage our children to maximize their potential.

I have very high hopes for Niles Community Schools and after watching our teachers and staff working with the students over the first few weeks, I know we will reach new heights. I continue to learn, I continue to be impressed with our teaching and administrative staff, and I continue to marvel at the support of the community. The future is very bright for Niles Community Schools. Thank you for your ongoing support and for serving as our partners in education.

Niles Community Schools
Building a Foundation for Our Future

Regular School Attendance will be a Focus of Niles Community Schools for the 2015-2016 School Year


Regular attendance is defined as missing less than five percent of the school days in session. For example, for the Niles Community School calendar year, five percent would be about 9-10 days for the year.   Absences beyond that total begin to have an academic impact. We realize some absences are unavoidable because of health problems or other circumstances. However, we know that when students miss too much school, regardless of the reason, academic achievement falters.  Your child is less likely to succeed if he or she is not in regular attendance. Research shows:   


      Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the end of third grade. 


      By sixth grade, chronic absences are a proven early warning sign for students at risk for dropping out of school. 
      By ninth grade, regular attendance is a better predictor of graduation rates than are eighth grade test scores.


Please check back to this site, or your child’s building site, for more valuable information about school attendance.


You will also find valuable information on the following links:

We are located in the southwest corner of Michigan, eight miles from the University of Notre Dame and less than a two-hour travel to downtown Chicago. The shores of Lake Michigan are about twenty-five minutes away. Within the ninety square miles of the district, we have a nice mix of urban, suburban, and rural settings. Diversity is one of our district's strengths with a student population of 15% African-American, 80% Caucasian, and around 5% Hispanic. Approximately 40% of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunch.

The district has almost 4,000 students. We are the largest district in our area and we offer more sports, more extracurricular activities, and more academic opportunities than any other district. The district is small enough to make personal attention to students a priority.

The 9th through 12th grade high school has 1100 students and offers many Advanced Placement and online courses. Our high school has been recognized as a statewide leader in career pathways and models a program preparing students for the next level.