Posted on 05 May 2016.
Posted in Cedar Springs Public SchoolsComments Off on Coffee and Conversation
Posted on 05 May 2016.
Congratulations to our Board Members– Patricia Eary, Matthew Shoffner and Brook Nichols
On Thursday, April 28 these Board Members were acknowledged and celebrated for their accomplishments in continuing their Board Member education. MASB was pleased to present awards to board members across the county for professional board development courses completed during the past year. These school board leaders completed numerous classes to develop new skills and stay up-to-date on educational issues.
Award of Merit – Completed Level 1 and 45 education credits: Patricia Eary and Matthew Shoffner
Award of Distinction – Completed Levels 1 and 2; total of four advanced (200- or 300-Level) CBA classes and minimum of 208 education credits: Brook Nichols
Thank you for you Leadership!
Posted in Cedar Springs Public SchoolsComments Off on Board members receive awards
Posted on 12 April 2016.
Dear Cedar Springs Public Schools Families:
Teaching and learning…it’s why we exist at Cedar Springs Public Schools (CSPS) and it’s why we work hard to be the best school district we can be. Our focus is on students, clear and simple. In order to focus on students, our administration, faculty and staff support each other in a collaborative manner to continue our practice of professional learning and interaction. We are engaged in an abundance of support for each other throughout our district…all in an effort to support our most cherished students.
As you know, great things are happening every day at CSPS! We are engaged with our parents, community, students and staff to provide the Board of Education with feedback for a new strategic plan. We are assessing our facilities and transportation operations to plan for the most effective and efficient practices. We are implementing a formal budget process that involves our administrators (they report how much they are enjoying the process and we’re proud of them for taking it on!). We are putting effective human resource processes and systems in place. We are continually updating our newly adopted Board policies that are now on our website. We are reforming and enhancing our business practices to plan for a bright future. We are adding a dental clinic to our medical clinic (at no cost to our district!). We are communicating with our parents and community more than ever before through our website, the Red Hawk Review, The CS Post. All this and much more is providing the “infrastructure” upon which we will continue to build this fantastic district.
All things we do, such as the aforementioned “infrastructure,” are to support teaching and learning. Let me highlight some of the fantastic things we are excited about as we support our most amazing teachers who in turn support our incredible students.
We are excited to highlight our teachers and administrators in the work they do each day for students during our on-site AdvancED accreditation review by an external team of evaluators in May! We are proud of the hard work, high expectations and outcomes we see in our classrooms and we want to share that in this rigorous process we choose to engage in every 5 years.
We are excited to witness the effective practices of Responsive Classroom® at our schools as the entire teaching and support staffs of Beach and Cedar Trails engaged in professional learning together and are establishing effective school wide practices. We are proud of our staffs for their commitment to professional learning and collaboration around Responsive Classroom®.
We are excited to see the hard work our K-5 teachers and administrators will do to select math curriculum to support our teachers and students for years to come. We look forward to the thorough process of curriculum review we have put in place to engage with publishers and to provide for high-level academic discourse between our teachers and administrators as they collaborate to select the curriculum (just as our 6-12 math teachers did last year).
We are excited to see our new Advanced Placement (AP) classes, like AP Economics, evolve due to the interest and commitment of our high school teachers and administrators.
We are excited to complete the School Improvement Plan process that involves our teachers, parents and administrators. Better yet, this year we directly aligned that process to a District Improvement Plan process that involves our parents, teachers and administrators as well. All of the intentional planning in this process helps us focus on goals at each site and as a district.
We are excited to see what our tech-inspired teachers do after attending the MACUL conference in Grand Rapids for solid professional learning and collaboration around all things technology. We were able to send about 25 teachers who will in turn provide professional learning and collaboration for our staffs next fall. We are proud of our innovative teachers!
We are excited to see the outcome of our Leverage Leadership training that all our administrators are enjoying throughout this year and next fall. The training is centered around the most effective way for administrators to engage with teachers in evaluations to help them further develop their craft. We commend our administrators for their continued interest in and growth around teaching and learning.
We are excited to engage in instructional rounds again in the coming weeks as it’s the district office and site collaboration around teaching and learning that is essential and energizing.
We are excited to see the positive results of hiring 4 counselors to support our students, teachers, and administrators. The counselors were funded through grant dollars and we now have support for our students who need counseling, behavior interventions, and other supports to remove barriers so they can focus on academics. This is a critical support to all.
We are excited to see the impact of implementing the Okay2Say program in our schools as students will have access to a confidential process to report acts of school violence, potential suicides, drugs, bullying, etc. The statistics for the program are incredible – we’ll soon take part!
We are excited to continue providing professional learning for our teachers who are asking to know more about Ruby Payne’s work on poverty and how it impacts teaching and learning.
We are excited to reap the benefits of more effective and efficient master scheduling after providing Powerschool® training for our middle and high school administrators, counselors and support staff along with offering district office support during the scheduling process.
We are excited to provide more math and reading interventionists to support our students and teachers. The interventionists are grant funded and offer small group or 1:1 targeted instruction for students in need of more support to meet academic standards.
We are excited that we used TRIG grant funds to provide new computers for our high school teachers and new computer labs for our students. We are making a concerted effort to budget for technology replacements so that all our teachers and students will have the tools they need for teaching and learning.
These are just some of the exciting ways teaching and learning is happening at CSPS. It is clear that our Board of Education, administration and staff have a clear focus on students. We extend our gratitude to our Board of Education for listening, questioning, visiting our schools in order to be well informed in their decision making and support of our efforts to improve teaching and learning for all at CSPS. Additionally, we extend our gratitude to all our parents and volunteers who partner with us in supporting our teachers and students. Together we are united in serving students, clear and simple!
Please know it is a pleasure to serve as your CSPS superintendent. I LOVE the work we do here at CSPS…it’s a passion of mine that is ever so rewarding. As you know, I maintain an open door to any and all who would like to talk. I am happy to answer questions you may have and appreciate the time you might take to seek answers on any variety of topics, such as all we are doing to support teaching and learning…because our Cedar Springs students deserve the very best!
Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.,
Superintendent of Schools
Office: 616-696-1204 ext. 1001
Posted on 12 April 2016.
Junior Jenna Zoerman has been named the March 2016 Student Athlete of the Month for Competitive Cheer. Jenna is the daughter of Joel & Kate Zoerman. Jenna was named All Conference in 2013 and All Conference Honor Mention in 2014 & 2015. She also does excellent in the classroom with a 3.88 GPA and has been involved in many community volunteer events such as the Alzheimers Walk, Back to School Clinic, Santa Clause Parade, and Rocket Cheer Coach. Coach Olszewski comments: “Jenna takes all advanced placement classes even though she plays more than one sport. She prioritizes her work and maintains an excellent GPA and works hard at practices. She is in all three rounds on the mat, she has a substantial skill set for our sport. She is growing and learning what it takes to be a leader in her sport and life.”
Junior Patrick Fliearman has been named March 2016 Student Athlete of the Month for Wrestling. Patrick is the son of Jim & Renee Fliearman. He is a three year varsity wrestler and won 15 matches this season. Patrick is also a black belt in Karate. He does great in the classroom with a 4.0 GPA and is on the National Honor Society. Coach Emery comments: “ The Spectacular aspect about Patrick is his dedication to the sport. He has a great work ethic, participates in all team functions and is a phenomenal teammate who puts the team first.”
Posted on 12 April 2016.
2016 – 2017 Kindergarten Registration is OPEN
Your child must be 5 years old by September 1, 2016 to register for Kindergarten.
Central Registration office is located on the 2nd Floor of the Hilltop Community Building.
If you have questions or need additional information, 616-696-7317 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Enrollment for the Tuition Based Preschool is OPEN
Classes will be forming for students who are 3 or 4 years old by September 1, 2016.
Information is available for families that are interested in tuition assistance for preschool. Contact Cedar Trails Elementary main office at 616.696.9884
Hearing and Vision Screening
Kindergarten entrants for the 2016-2017 school year will need documentation of Hearing and Vision Screening through the Kent County Health Department (KCHD). The KCHD will be at Cedar Trails Elementary on the following dates: May 13, 2016 and May 26, 2016
Please call Cedar Trails Elementary at 616.696.9884 or the Registrar’s Office at 616.696.7317 to schedule an appointment. Additional appointment times can be scheduled by calling the KCHD at 616.632.7047
2016-2017 School Year Schools of Choice Information
Cedar Springs Public Schools participates in both the Kent Intermediate School District (ISD) and the 105c Schools of Choice plans. Applications are available at the District Office once the Schools of Choice window opens.
Schools of Choice – April 11 through May 13
105c – April 11 through May 13
(616) 696-7317 or email@example.com
For more information about Schools of Choice, please visit www.csredhawks.org
2016 – 2017 School Year District Calendar available www.csredhawks.org
Middle School Honors Band
The following students performed in the MSBOA District 7 Middle School Honors Band March 12. The concert was held at Grand Haven High School in a packed auditorium. The guest conductor was Dr. Kevin Tutt from GVSU. The students rehearsed the previous Wednesday night from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Kent City High School, then Saturday from 8:30 am until their performance at 3:30. The students said they really enjoyed Dr. Tutt and getting to meet and play with about 100 band students from other schools (even though they were really tired by the end of the day).
Students from left to right 1st row: Sierra Johnson, Kristen Lubben, Nathan Flower. 2nd row: Tehya Greenbauer, Emily Whilden, Matt Reed, Jaydon Grifhorst, Cecilia Smith. Congratulations! Go Red Hawks.
Spring Pops Concert
High School – 5/12 @7pm in High School Auditorium
6th- 8th Grades – 5/17 (& Art Show) @6:30pm in Middle School Cafeteria
2016 – 2017 School Year District Calendar available www.csredhawks.org
Posted on 12 April 2016.
The Board of Education is committed to providing an excellent education for every child in the district. The Board of Education is committed to high expectations for excellence in all we do as a district. We hold ourselves and all others accountable and expect every person to work with integrity in all positions. To that end this Board of Education is providing transparency in all they do. This Board is proud of the forward motion of the school district and a list of many accomplishments in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.
An example of a recent accomplishment that will serve our district and community well is the refunding of Bonds, Series A and Series B. The Superintendent, Board of Education, Director of Business and Finance, CSPS Accountant, financial advisors to the District, banks and legal counsel worked through a lengthy process to make the bond refunding possible. A summary of the bond refunding process is illustrated as follows:
December 14, 2015: Board of Education adopted a delegating resolution at a regular board meeting. This authorized the superintendent to accept and execute a Bond Purchase Agreement with the Underwriter.
February 1, 2016: Conference call with all parties to review POS
February 8, 2016 (week of): Conference call with rating agency
February 18, 2016: Pricing of bonds (subject to market conditions)
February 19, 2016: Superintendent executes bond purchase agreement
March 14, 2016: Board of Education adopts a “ratification resolution” at a regular board meeting. This is an additional, but not mandatory step, to add a great depth of transparency and support to the process. Signatures from the superintendent, Board President and Board Secretary were required to adopt the resolution.
March 23, 2016: Closing
This Board of Education and leadership team are excited to have worked through this long and involved process to save our tax payers approximately 2.5 million dollars over the next several years. Please see our website www.csredhawks.org where all documents related to the bond refunding are available for your review. Please feel free to contact Dr. Laura VanDuyn, Superintendent, at 696-1204 ext. 1001, should you have any questions or would like to meet to discuss this exciting news.
Posted on 12 April 2016.
Dear Cedar Springs Public Schools Staff and Families,
On behalf of the Board of Education, thank you for participating in the Strategic Planning Process. At Cedar Springs Public Schools we commend the Board of Education for entering into this important process. A strategic plan provides for a district shared vision, mission and set of core values in order to plan forward for the continued success in serving the nearly 3,500 students of Cedar Springs Public Schools.
As promised, feedback groups met with the Board of Education’s strategic planning facilitator. Administrators, teachers, support staff, students, parents and community members provided invaluable input into creating a district shared vision, mission and set of core values. The facilitator will now combine the information gathered from all constituent groups and circle back to ensure he captured what was shared. The facilitator will then work with the Board of Education to utilize constituent input to articulate the vision, mission and core values for the district.
The collaboration of so many has made this inclusive process possible. Again, thank you to all who spent their days and evenings with the steering committee and in feedback groups. Hard work and great progress is taking place every day at Cedar Springs Public Schools in order to serve our students – because our Cedar Springs Public Schools students deserve the very best!
Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Office: 616-696-1204 ext. 1001 Cell: 925-899-3111
Posted on 31 March 2016.
By Judy Reed
The Cedar Springs Board of Education met again on Monday, March 28. The meeting started with the board adding an agenda item to read a board statement, which was passed. Trustee Michelle Bayink asked to add an agenda item for discussion on comments from the last meeting, but it was not seconded, and died for lack of support.
Several people read letters or made comments to the board.
Bruce Marvel, an educator in another district, whose children attend Cedar Springs, asked the board, What are you? He noted Board president Eary’s statement about them only having one employee, and then asked why the contracts begin with the words “The Board of Education of Cedar Springs Public Schools and ____ enter into a contract”? He also asked if the board only has one employee, why did they tell the staff in the October 12 meeting, “if you don’t like it, you can take you services elsewhere”? (See an edited version of his letter on page 5)
Jan Wallace, a former member of the Board of Ed for 12 years, and said they were always transparent and accountable to the community. She noted the difficulties they overcame (a failed BOE recall, teacher’s strike, major budget issues) and how they healed with the support of the entire community and staff. She questioned Board president Patricia Eary’s statement about them only having one employee—the superintendent; and took issue with her previous statement about it not being an “open, public meeting…we are here to do the work of the board.” Wallace said the pubic is an important part of that work and has a right to speak. (See an edited version of her letter on page 5)
Tammie Drake, a school of choice mom, also spoke about communication has dissipated in the district. She said the board and superintendent are expected to listen, be curious, and act when needed. She said that we once were leaders and now people are asking what’s going on in Cedar Springs. (See her edited letter on page 6)
Teacher Libby Metiva also spoke. She asked that the board honor the request by trustee Michelle Bayink to address concerns by the community. She also asked who are the good ol’ boys? She said that term has been used in conversations in the community, and she wondered if the board might be allowing personal feelings or prejudices regarding good ol’ boys to influence their decisions as a governing body. She also tried to explain that the issue they are currently facing is not about the inability to embrace change. She listed several ways that the staff has changed over the last several years. Metiva noted teachers with 30-plus years experience speaking out because they are concerned. “Clearly our community is dysfunctional and divided,” she said. “What is stopping you from digging deeper? Aren’t our children worth it?”
Jamie Zywycki spoke and asked the board members to remember that they are trustees for the students.
First grade teacher Karen Gebhardt, who is in her 30th year of teaching, also spoke. She talked about the anti-bullying program “be nice” and importance of treating people with respect. “While we’ve expected our students to abide by this, with the administration and teachers it’s been harder,” she said. “The days of intimidation are over. It used to be that way at Cedar Trails but it’s not anymore.”
Many have questioned Board president Eary’s statement that they only have one employee—the superintendent. And while they may give the Superintendent the authority to hire and fire, according to the Michigan Association of School Boards website, under powers and duties of the local school board, it says that specific provisions in the revised school code assigns the board responsibilities such as employing a superintendent, other administrators, teachers, and support staff personnel. That job is seen each meeting when the board votes on the consent agenda to approve new hires or release employees.
For more on school board responsibility visit https://www.masb.org/your-local-school-board.aspx.
The board read a statement during the meeting. “Let me first begin by thanking all of you for being present this evening as a part of this school board meeting. We recognize the interest in education by our community members, and value the opportunity to gather, listen to one another and consider the affirmations, questions and concerns of the community as part of our service as the Cedar Springs Public Schools board members.
As we have encountered change during the course of the year, we have heard affirmations, questions and concerns. We are proud that our community cares a great deal about the quality of education available for all our children. The Cedar Springs Board of Education cares a great deal as well. We are committed to proved an education of excellence for the children in the community.
The board is working with the Superintendent to ensure that wwe are in line with educational best practices and operations across our district. We are committed to being data driven in our decision making, as we continually serve our students and inform our community. We are committed to civility and respect, especially when there is a difference of opinion. These are the values we must uphold and model for all in our district, including our students.
We also stand committed to holding individuals accountable to work with integrity in their positions. Whether an individual is the Superintendent, a teacher in the classroom, a coach or a support staff member, we have high expectations and we expect excellence in all that we do. Valuing high expectations for ourselves sets the foundation for the best educational programs for children in our district.
The Cedar Springs Board of Education is listening to the community and is responsive to your concerns. We will continue to be in communication regarding a range of issues in the days ahead. We believe the leadership team shares our commitment and together we are confident that the children of Cedar Springs are going to continue to receive a great education.
The board and district leadership team appreciate the hard work done on a daily basis by staff and teachers in the classroom and on the grounds of the district. Effective teaching and learning is happening, and here are some examples:
*Long time teachers like Larry Reyburn at Cedar Springs High School who has always wanted to teach since his days as an FFA student at CSHS in the late 1960s.
*Becky Powell, who over the past 20 years has provided many hours of college preparation volunteer time with our CSHS students.
*The teachers at Cedar Trails who were recently commended for their implementation of Responsive Classrooms by a national trainer.
*Staff at our Cedar Springs Community Health Center, who support the physical and mental health needs of all students.
*The many other stories of exceptional adacemic success by our students such as Madison Skelonc, a 6th grader honored for scoring in the top 20 percent of the ACT of all college-bound high school students.
*Many excellent contributions in our various co-curricular programs.
*Our many volunteers who continue to partner with Cedar Springs, including parents and grandparents.
We live in a community where our students are learning and accomplishing great things. We live in a community that cares about education and our students. As a board, we are committed to continue this tradition of excellence going forward. Our community partnerships make a difference in our shared commitment to provide a high quality, world class education that ensures success for every child through exemplary teaching and learning.
Posted on 24 March 2016.
By Judy Reed
There was good news and bad news at the Monday, March 14 Cedar Springs Board of Education meeting. The good news is that the board approved the sale of the 2016 Refunding Bonds, which will save taxpayers over $2,000,000. The bad news is that the school district has numerous deferred maintenance problems to address, and needs to solve those problems while trying to come up with a way to offset a $1.3 million shortfall in next year’s budget.
Sale of bonds
The 2016 Series A refunding bonds are being issued to refund a portion of the district’s 2006 refunding bonds, and pay a portion of the costs of issuing the bonds. They were sold at a true interest rate of 2.77 percent. This will reduce the school district’s interest and save taxpayers approximately $1,017, 252 through lower debt payments over the next 16 years.
The 2016 Series B bonds are being issued to refund some outstanding indebtedness of the district to the State of Michigan under the State of Michigan School Bond Qualification and Loan Program, and to pay a portion of the costs of issuing the Bonds. They were sold at a federally taxable rate of 1.98 percent. This will reduce interest and payment costs to the state, saving taxpayers an estimated $1,500,000, according to Rosemary Zink, Director of Business and Finance. The estimated reduction in repayments is based upon the current School Bond Loan Fund interest rate of 3.50%.
“Cedar Springs Public Schools’ Bonds were well received by the bond market,” said Brenda Voutyras, Managing Director with Stifel, the brokerage firm that helped with the sale. “We saw good demand and were able to take advantage of current low interest rates that resulted in a very nice savings for the District and its taxpayers.”
Deferred facilities maintenance
Matthew Losch, with Excel Consultant Group, LLC, completed an assessment of the Cedar Springs Public Schools facilities, which are valued at $50 million. He found several issues that need to be addressed, including some that would could cause the school to be fined by MIOSHA. He told the board, in his presentation, that he mainly looked at safety, efficiency, and effectiveness. “This report is not about a staff or person not doing their job,” Losch said in his report. “It is about a department structure or organizational system which requires improvement, positive change, and support. We want to make a great school district even greater.”
Losch said that one of the problems is that the maintenance department needs a managerial supervisor to work with Jerry Gavin, Director of Maintenance and Operations. He noted that Gavin is doing a great job, but needs someone to help oversee work assignments, regulartory compliance, project coordination, safety inspections, recordkeeping, and more.
Losch also said that their regulatory compliance requires serious work because there are various safety issues, and several written programs are not MIOSHA compliant. One photo showed a saw without a guard, which he said is a $1,500 MIOSHA violation. “If someone got injured, I can’t imagine what the blank check the board would be writing,” said Losch.
The district must also develop a preventative maintenance program. He supplied photos showing asphalt cracks, roof leaks, problems with door jambs, thermal insulation falling off, a fence needing repair, etc.
Department documents also need to be organized. Photos showed blueprints and other papers piled randomly on file cabinets and in storage areas. They also need to work on safety inspections, an annual review of the district’s emergency management plan, training and instruction, certifications, etc.
Losch recommended they plan for preventive maintenance, taking care of deferred maintenance, cyclical replacement, and capital repairs. Funding strategies could include sinking fund projects, grants, performance bonds, and utility company services and funding.
Long range financial projection
The board saw a long range financial projection for the school district last week, and could be looking at a possible shortfall of almost $809,000 this year, and $1,360,000 next year, with only $2,075,000 in the fund balance. By 2017-18, with declining enrollment, and no increase in state aid, the projection shows a shortfall of of almost $2 million with only $120,000 in the fund balance.
Donald Sovey, CPA, CFO, of School and Municipal Advisory Services, PC, gave the presentation to the board. He noted that the modeling is based on if things stay the same, and that the current projections would change as new facts become available, such as enrollment, retirement contribution rates, facility and equipment needs, staffing changes and related costs, and state and local funding levels. The state aid in the long range projections was based on the governor’s proposal for the 2016-17 school year. Some maintenance that has been deferred is included in the forecast.
Sovey said he sat down with the building principals and showed them their budgets. “Some of them saw it for the first time,” he said.
He also noted that he recommended a stop to purchasing of all budgeted items for this year. “If it’s not been purchased by now, they probably won’t need to,” he explained.
“This is one of the most stable districts I’ve worked with, but there are still some challenges,” remarked Sovey. “The population numbers are shrinking some over the next few years, and state aid is tied to that. We need to eliminate surprises and upgrade documention.”
Sovey explained to the Post that there is a good accounting system in place, it just needs more refinement. “My job is to process, improve on, and tighten up procedures—to set up an accounting system to provide timely and useful information that can be used to make good decisions.”
He also noted that the audits at the school are always really good. “It’s a great district, and they’ve had some excellent people working there,” he remarked. “Finances in school districts are always a challenge, with the state aid remaining flat.”
Sovey said that the model forecast was done without seeing a new budget. “A zero-based budget is underway. This long range modeling can help us project what could happen if no changes are made. It’s not carved in stone. There may or may not be a deficit by the time the board gets done.”
Posted on 24 March 2016.
By Judy Reed
A first-year Odyssey of the Mind team at Cedar View Elementary did something this year that is rarely seen—they finished second at regionals, then went on to take third place at state.
Team members Ethan Griffee, Hannah Anderson, Nate Slager, Ella Buttermore, Riley Robb, and Judy Visser were coached by Tanja Griffee and Aaron Anderson. Regionals were held February 27 at Greenville Middle School, where they placed second and earned a silver medal. The state finals were held March 19, at Thornapple Kellogg Schools in Middleville, where they placed third, and received a bronze medal.
The problem they competed in was called, “No-Cycle Recycle.” They had to build a car and perform a skit involving recycling and repurposing trash items.
“They are an amazing group of kids,” said Coach Griffee. “They worked hard and did great as a team. I am extremely proud of them for their accomplishments!”
Regional Director Linda Blackmore, of Cedar Springs, was surprised at the progress the group made for being a first year team of fourth and fifth graders.
“The program is overwhelming, and so I usually tell the coaches to have two goals: survive and have fun,” explained Blackmore. “They just need to get through it the first time, to learn the ropes. But then they went on to state. That hardly ever happens. It’s an accomplishment against the best of the best at state finals—to not only be there, but to place as well. It’s only happened maybe once in the 20 years I’ve been doing this,” she said.
Blackmore said that she’s hoping to get more teams from Cedar Springs involved in Odyssey of the Mind. Teams can be created at any grade level, from grades K-12, and grade levels can have more than one team, as Cedar View did this year. If anyone is interested in getting involved, contact your building principal, or contact Blackmore at firstname.lastname@example.org.