By Judy Reed
It has been one of the most volatile campaigns for the Cedar Springs Board of Education in recent years. Four people are running for two six-year seats. Originally there were five candidates, but Rita Reimbold dropped out. The other four are:
Joseph Marckini: Joe Marckini has served on the Board of Education for the last nine years, and is looking for six more. He grew up in the Walker area, and Joe and his family moved to Algoma Township in 1996. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have two daughters, Emily and Maria. He said that he and his wife desire to serve the community and especially any organization which helps educate and support kids. He has been employed by the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) Local #7 for over 30 years as a sheet metal construction worker.
Joe said he is running for another term to ensure that every student receives fair and equal opportunities. “If re-elected, I will continue advocating for all students’ right to a S.T.R.E.A.M. education (Science, Technology, Recess, Engineering, Arts & Math). I will continue making KIDS FIRST decisions, supporting more intervention for at-risk students and more life-skills and trade skills training opportunities.” He said he would also continue to be a voice for education at the federal, state and local levels. He also wants to continue the changes he has seen under Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn. “I have been a part of bringing the current Superintendent to Cedar Springs. Under her leadership we have made many tough but important changes. So many positive things have happened over the last few years and I would like to be a part of the continued improvements.”
Besides serving on the Board of Education, Joe has also served on the Cedar Springs Executive Board PTO, Kent Intermediate School Board Association, National School Board Association (NSBA) Federal Relation Network, Friends of Kent County Schools, NEOLA policy committee, Cedar Springs Parks and Recreation, Cedar Springs Public Schools negotiation committee, and is the representative of Cedar Springs Public Schools Board of Education to the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB).
Joe said that his main strength is the ability to make hard but necessary decisions. “I am a fierce advocate for kids. I am not on the board to make friends or get a pat on the back. I am here to make sure Cedar Springs Public Schools follows all rules and policies and is fair in its decision making regarding students and staff. I want to be sure that the parents in our district know that their child is not only getting an excellent education but will also be treated fairly and equitably and have not only the support of their teachers but also the staff, Superintendent and school board. As a member of the board I am often regarded as the policy-enforcer, I make sure we are operating within the law and within the guidelines we have set up for ourselves.”
Joe sees funding as the major challenge facing the district. “Funding and resources has an impact on everything we do and attempt to do. Security, smaller classroom sizes, busing, professional development, infrastructure improvements, they all rely on funding. That’s why being an advocate at all levels of government is so important. We have to keep working for our kids to ensure they get what they need and deserve as citizens of this great democracy.”
Ted Sabinas: Ted Sabinas and his wife Dianne have lived in Cedar Springs for 39 years. He was a teacher in the district for 34 years and served as a Cedar Springs High School coach of cross country, track, and several other sports for 37 years. Their two daughters, Mrs. Kahler and Mrs K (Kacprzyk) graduated from Cedar Springs and are currently teaching in our district. Their grandchildren also attend school here. “I have been committed to Cedar Springs for 39 years and feel strongly about the opportunity to run for the school board to help impact and make a positive difference in our school district,” said Ted.
Ted said he his primary reason for running for office is to “bring a background of teaching, coaching and educational leadership, along with my passion for our district, and to help guide and participate in the decisions being made as they impact our school district, community, staff and most importantly our students,” he explained.
Sabinas said the main strength he would bring to the office lies in his years of teaching and coaching experience, and his collaborative training. “[My] teaching and coaching experience, along with my commitment to our district, can help me guide and participate in the decisions being made as they impact our school district. With my collaborative training I have the ability to see what needs to be accomplished and how to get to the correct outcome together.
“While serving as the Cedar Springs Association President and Head of Negotiations for 17 years, I was trained and practiced collaborative negotiations with past superintendents and Boards of Education with very successful outcomes,” he noted. “I have a proven track record of demonstrating collaboration, active listening, and driving results over the years.” He said that he and the teams he worked with created a culture in which all problems can be discussed openly and solved with support from all involved using the collaborative method.
Sabinas said that our district faces many challenges. “Challenges such as the district revenues and expenses; being responsible to the community that elected the board; and creating a district wide positive image, are just a few of the many challenges that a board member faces,” he said. “We must address these challenges with research, hope, and caution, and determine if the board decisions are the correct direction to follow for our students in Cedar Springs. As a board member I will always place students as the main priority but also keep the community and staff informed and seek input from students, community and the staff.”
Heidi Reed: Heidi Reed is a wife, mother and businesswoman who lives in the city of Cedar Springs. She has been married for 33 years to Steve Reed, a teacher. Together they have three boys, Trey, Thomas and Trevor. Trey Reed, graduated from CSHS and recently Cornerstone University. Thomas and Trevor are 10th graders at CSHS. Heidi is Vice President/Associate Real Estate Broker for Red Oak Management Co., Inc. For 27 years she has been responsible for property management issues, finance and compliance for 1,300 families at 48 locations in Michigan.
Heidi said she is running for school board because she has a sense of duty to this community and is community centered. “I will keep kids first in decisions, by asking the question, who benefits? I will be financially focused and look for the highest and best use of the taxpayer dollars. I enjoy policy and finance work. I have no other agenda for seeking this position other than the desire to do what I can to help Cedar Springs Public Schools achieve and improve. Being in affordable housing, I see everyday, the nexus of how important education is to our society.”
Heidi has been active on school and business committees. She serves on the Cedar Springs Public Schools Sinking Fund Committee 2010 to present; the Cedar Springs Public Schools: Strategic Planning Committee 2015-2016; and the Cedar Springs Public Schools District Improvement Team, to name a few.
Heidi said the main strength she will bring to the board is leadership. “I will bring:
- Constant Leadership-knowledge of our students, educators and facilities. I have been attending board meetings for a year in preparation for this position.
- Balanced Leadership-understanding of the issues and opportunities we face as a district.
- Engaged Leadership-the passion to lead forward.”
Heidi said there are multiple challenges facing the district, but the first is meeting all students’ needs with limited funding. “We are facing budgetary and operational issues now in our district that impact not just the students and their futures, but the economic and social health of Cedar Springs. I have the experience, judgment and desire to step up to these issues and listen, learn and lead. My corporate experience of blending multiple government programs together for success will be an asset to the school board.”
Mistie Bowser: Mistie Bowser has been living in Courtland Township for 16 years. She said she has loved living here with her four children—Emily Umphrey, a 2013 CSHS graduate; Cameron Umphrey, a 2016 CSHS graduate; Myla Umphrey a junior at CSHS; and Elizabeth Bowser, a fourth-grader at Cedar View.
“I’m a spokeswoman for the American Lung Association, where I travel and share my story, which helps bring more lung cancer awareness to help fight this disease,” she explained. “We are a very academic, arts and athletic family. I’ve been very involved with our football, hockey, soccer, cross country, track, theatre, advanced and resource learning programs.”
Mistie is a very involved mom and community member who takes great pride in where she chose to raise her children. “I’m running for the Cedar Springs School Board because I want to have a direct hand in the decisions being made that will directly affect our students education and extra curricular activities,” she explained. “I will research the options to ensure that I will be making the best decisions for our Cedar Springs students, which my youngest is only in 4th grade so I have many years to stay vested. Our students deserve the best and most competitive education and I want to ensure that happens by putting students first with our staff and community right behind them, making a successful collaborative triangle. I want to serve my commuity of Cedar Springs by working hard for you on our Cedar Springs School Board.”
Mistie has served on several boards and committees, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for nine years as member, treasurer, vice president and president; American Lung Association Regional Leadership Council as Chairwoman; the Mothers Of Preschoolers(MOPS) steering committee board; coached AYSO soccer; senior all night part committee, and more.
Mistie said the main strength she would bring to the board would be “my strong communication skills, understanding the importance and experience of being fiscally responsible, along with ensuring that I am and others are held accountable for all the decisions being made. I bring the perspective of a parent of a student and athlete in our district. Before voting on an item I will ensure that I have all the information from all sides so I can make a well-informed decision, and vote for what’s best for our students. I bring many years of leading non-profit organization boards with successful collaborative and respectful communication skills. I believe in everyone being fiscally responsible and accountable for all decisions being made. I will bring open communication along with always putting our students, staff and community front and center.”
“The major challenge in our district right now is the over 50 staff members that have left since January 2016, the fiscal decisions that have been made that are still not answered by our administration, and the communication and the morale of our staff and our community. Our district is hurting along with our community over some decisions that have been made over the past 2 years. I agree; I don’t like a lot of the decisions made either. My plan to address these problems is to communicate more, hold people accountable for their decisions, bring collaboration back, and use our finances responsibly by ensuring that money is only spent if it will directly affect our students. My biggest goal is to listen and communicate with our students, staff and community.”
Look for city and township candidates in next week’s Post!