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Categorized | Post Scripts

What’s happening to our school board?

 

To the Cedar Springs Community,

I am a concerned parent and community member. At Cedar Springs Public Schools, we prided ourselves on evolving our school district into one of the best in Kent County. The pillars of success that we are known for include Cognitive coaching, Adaptive schools and Professional Learning Communities dedicated to ensuring our teachers and administrators are trained and proficient in delivering and enhancing our children’s learning. Our children’s education was our number one priority. But the state of our district has changed and there are behaviors and patterns that cause concern for our future.

According to the Center for Public education, the school board is supposed to serve their communities in several important ways:

  • First and foremost look out for students.
  • When making decisions about school programs, incorporate their community’s view of what students should know and be able to do.
  • Be accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.
  • Ensure that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent.

It is increasingly apparent that our leadership is acting in their best interests and beliefs vs. the community’s.  Parents, teachers and administrators have brought forward example after example—written and verbally—of concerns, mismanagement and actions not in alignment with the excellence we have achieved and come to expect in Cedar Springs. The board has not demonstrated the behaviors expected of a board:  willingness to listening, understanding the issues fully, and then acting on behalf of our children and community and what is best for their academic success. They have gone to great lengths to defend and protect their direction and new leadership, despite the feedback they are hearing. Discussion at board meetings has been misrepresented in the published minutes; they have sent numerous signals through behavior and words that our concerns don’t matter; there has been no communication on the academic strategy of our district; and they have undervalued our teaching staff. When is enough, enough?

Three of our top performing administrators have left in the last nine months—Steve Seward, Jennifer Harper and now Dave Cairy. Why?

Our focus and resources dedicated to the cognitive coaching discipline have been cut by four positions in the last year, while the data shows the overwhelming impact and value it has given to our teaching staff and student outcomes. Why?

These are just a few of the big questions. We need parents to be aware, ask questions, be informed on what is going on and help to hold the board and our superintendent accountable. Form your own opinions.

We have worked way too hard as a district to come this far and allow it to slip away. Come to the board meetings, be curious and let your voice be heard.

Laura Davis, Algoma Township  


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2 Responses to “What’s happening to our school board?”

  1. Cedar Parent says:

    We as a community need to work together to ensure positive change in our district. Although we have plenty to be proud of as a district, the data shows we also have plenty of room for improvement. We don’t have to look far to see that our district’s performance scores are concerning. The state has designated one of our schools as a Focus School. Although our district is challenged with a high at risk population, so are many other school districts who are achieving at a higher level compared to CSPS.

    Additionally, I am alarmed by the reported concerns regarding the former financial practices of our district. As parents, we have the right to know that our children are getting the best education for tax dollars spent. The board has hired a business consultant to review the financials to ensure that going forward.

    Clearly, we need to be open to new ideas and a fresh perspective. Dr. VanDuyn has brought several positive initiatives to our district. I will refer readers to the previous Post edition with a letter from the Superintendent outlining the progress being made. Many community members, staff, and parents like me are excited by the positive happenings in the district.

    Although there are some who are upset by the changes occurring, it is important to recognize that there are many who are also embracing these changes. Change is hard, but flexibility and new perspective is important for growth.

    I completely agree with Ms. Davis’ statement that parents and community members should attend board meetings, be curious, and let their voices be heard.

  2. Cedar Parent 2 says:

    I completely agree with you Cedar Parent. Change is hard, and flexibility and new perspective is very important for growth. Our district was in need of some change and new guidance. I believe that Dr. VanDuyn will bring great growth and progress to our district, it’s important we give her a chance to do so.

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