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Archive | Voices and Views

Post Scripts NOTICE

The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Unhappy about Sand Lake Halloween party cancellation


I am disappointed that the Sand Lake Fire Department is so selfish as to cancel the Halloween party this year. I am wondering if they are more concerned about their salary than the children they will disappoint. Maybe it is political, and the insurance to cover the event would come out of their salaries. I have heard the new Sand Lake President has been making things fiscally responsible.

Mary Prentice, Nelson Township

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Please vote Nov. 5


I’m writing this letter as a Cedar Springs teacher who has had the honor of working for our amazing district for almost 10 years now, and also as an elected official for the Grand Rapids Public School’s board of education. One of the many reasons public schools are important and successful is that the communities that they exist in have a direct voice in who its leaders are, what its priorities are, and the outcomes that are implemented by the district on a daily basis. Public schools help grow children into active community members and leaders of the future. Public school policies are approved by an elected board who listens to and pursues the interests of it constituents. Your voice matters. 

On Tuesday, November 5, every registered voter has the chance to voice their opinion on the future of our Cedar Springs Public Schools by voting on a bond proposal that will provide funds for new construction, additions, remodeling, site improvements, and more.  As an advocate of public education, the future of our community, and the right for each and every person to have a say through the voting process, I encourage each of you to educate yourselves on the details of this bond by visiting www.csredhawks.org and to practice your right to vote on November 5!  

Thanks for helping us grow the future of Cedar Springs!

Kymberlie Davis, Cedar Trails Music Teacher

GRPS Board Member

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An open letter to the community of Cedar Springs


I would like to invite you to consider voting yes on the upcoming bond proposal.  I have examined the proposed uses of the fund raised by the proposal.  As a previous member of the high school staff I can attest to the efficiency of the school board and staff at cedar and their heart for students.

As I examined this process I found that the board has worked very hard to determine how to resolve the problems faced by the district now and in future years. Overcrowding, and aging facilities are a major concern now and in the future.

This proposal clearly identifies what construction will be undertaken, where changes will be made to programming, and what technology, traffic, and security issues will be addressed. It is also clear that operation funds will not be wasted on patchwork fixes that merely put a band aid on problems the school is now facing.

I recommend checking the website at csredhawks.org by clicking the first bar at the top of the options where you can access clear documentation, and maps showing what is planned. I support this proposal and suggest you vote yes to help Cedar schools adapt for its needs now and in the future.

Larry Reyburn

Retired Teacher 

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8th/9th grade building a brilliant proposal

Last Thursday, I was pleased to meet two Cedar Springs school board trustees at a Kent County board event. Lowell had recently passed a bond issue, and I was interested to hear about your upcoming vote and the district’s plans for the funds. As with Lowell, Cedar will use the money for the unglamorous but necessary expenditures that update facilities and provide the infrastructure every district needs to serve its community most effectively.

What struck me as the most brilliant proposal for the funds is the creation of an 8th/9th grade building. I taught at Lowell High School for twenty-nine years—mostly before our 9th grade wing was built—and have always felt that freshmen and seniors should not be under the same roof. The groups are vastly different in both physical and emotional maturity, and since most middle schools have no retention policy, freshmen have spent the previous three years facing no consequences for lack of academic effort. Many struggle in the strict high school academic environment, and often discipline problems arise from those struggles.

By putting the 8th and 9th grades together, I see Cedar Springs addressing two issues: First, the freshman/senior gap and, second, a similar gap between 6th and 8th graders. Having students just a year or two apart in age in their own space eliminates a number of problems inherent in a wider age spread. 

As a Lowell Board of Education trustee, I have seen firsthand the positive effect passing both a sinking and a bond issue has had. Schools are an integral part of small towns such as Lowell and Cedar. Bond money stays in the community; it shows that citizens value their public schools; and best of all it is used to invest in our most precious commodity—our children.

Trust that the Cedar Springs Board of Education has performed their due diligence in shaping the plan for this bond issue, and please support public schools on November 5.

Laurie C. Kuna

Trustee, Lowell Board of Education 

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School bond proposal: pay now or pay later


Cedar Springs is blessed with a high performing school system. Superintendent Scott Smith said, ”Quality school facilities are essential to best support students academically, emotionally, and socially.” While our infrastructure my not look it, our newest building—the Middle School—was built in 2002 and our oldest—Beach—was constructed in 1960. During the recession that started in 2008, state funds decreased but costs did not. As a result, maintenance was deferred to maintain academic excellence. Voters approved a 1mil sinking fund millage in 2012, which has helped but expires in 2022.

Another challenge is growth. Most of the buildings are close to or at capacity. This leaves little room for growth when looking forward 10 years with its projected growth of 1percent per year. Last year, the school grew by about 3 percent from about 3,500 to 3,600 students.

In 2016, recognizing the challenges the district’s facilities faced, they engaged GMB Architecture and Engineering to conduct a facilities assessment as part of a long-term master plan for district facilities. GMB specializes in collaborative architectural and engineering solutions for schools. The result of the assessment is the core of the $42 million bond proposal. These funds would pay for the renovation of existing buildings and the construction of a building adjacent to the High School for 8th and 9th graders. This opens up space for future growth. 

If voters do not support the bond proposal, the district will face unprecedented challenges in maintaining its facilities and providing a positive and productive learning environment for students.

While the wording on the ballot proposal is confusing, the bottom line is an increase of .9 mils to your tax bill or about $90 for a residence with a $200,000 assessed value per year. However, after 2022, your taxes will decrease 1 mil when the sinking fund expires. At that point, you will be paying less in taxes than you are now.

We can either pay now or pay later, support our students and vote for the bond proposal on November 5!

PS: For those concerned about Hilltop, there are no plans to tear it down; however, in an effort to contain costs ($6 million to bring it up to code) and reduce operating expenses ($110,000 per year) it will be mothballed at sometime in the future. Superintendent Smith has an exciting vision for the building’s future.

Tom Noreen, Nelson Township

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No Halloween party in Sand Lake


On behalf of the Sand Lake Fire Department, we regret to inform you that we will not be able to host the annual Halloween Party this year due to personal commitments. We hope that in the future this event may resume. Thank you to all of those that have volunteered, participated and donated to this event in the past. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Sincerely,

The Sand Lake Fire Department

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School proposal will triple our debt

On Nov 5 we will be voting on a school bond proposal that will increase our property taxes. We are already nearly $40 million in debt from previous school bonds. It will take until 2032 to pay off this existing debt. The proposal we are voting on would TRIPLE that debt (to over $120 million), increase the tax for debt service by 12.8% (to 7.9 mills) and take until 2053 to pay for. It is the 4th most expensive of 57 bond issues across Michigan being voted on Nov 5. This proposal is financially reckless, irresponsible, and totally insane!

This would be very expensive for property owners. The cost, over the life of the bonds, would be between $15,000 and $22,000 for the owner of a typical $150,000 home ($75,000 taxable value). Don’t be fooled by the deceptive and misleading $45 a year numbers in the glossy brochures. If this proposal passes, our school taxes will be higher than Rockford! It is truly shameful that school officials don’t care about all the people that will be hurt by higher taxes.

Capacity issues are cited as a reason this proposal is needed. Yet the increase in student enrollment has been very small (only about 5 percent since 2002). This certainly doesn’t justify the massive spending this proposal calls for. If anything is going to be built, a 9th grade wing on the Middle School would make far more sense than a costly new 8th/9th grade building.

In 2012 voters approved a Sinking Fund tax for ongoing maintenance at the schools. Yet this bond proposal is loaded with maintenance and renovation spending. Where has the sinking fund money gone and how has it been misused?

Abandoning Hilltop and tearing down most of Beach Elementary is ridiculous. These buildings underwent renovations from previous bonds and that cost isn’t even fully paid for yet.

Students will graduate in a few years and shouldn’t then have to face decades of burdensome tax debt. They would be far better served by your putting more money into their college funds than by paying perpetually higher property taxes to the money-sucking schools. Please do yourself, your kids, and your grandkids a favor by voting NO on Nov 5.

Daniel Davis, Courtland Township

POST SCRIPTS NOTICE: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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School bond proposal vague on how money will be spent


I received my absentee ballot two days ago. The bond asks for $81 million but the plan for the money (on the ballot) is very vague. Case in point: the third bullet statement on the ballot talks about athletic facilities. It starts out by saying the money can go to “constructing” athletic facilities. Many types of buildings can be an “athletic facility.” Is it a soccer field, an indoor pool, a stadium? Remember it is what is on the ballot that will limit them for the next 30 years. What the current leadership tells you in the town halls is not legally binding—what is on the ballot is! Labeling something an “Athletic Facility” can mean a soccer field, or a stadium the size of Michigan’s “Big House,” an indoor pool—they get to decide. As a voter I want to decide but that is not the way the ballot is written. It is not just the third bullet down. The entire ballot is written very broad. Looking at it, it feels like we are giving the school 30 years’ worth of money and authority for them to “fill in the blank” with what they want to do with it. 

In the past when given this kind of authority, the school has built without a plan to maintain (or enough money to maintain) and came back to the voters for more money. The sinking fund of 2012 is a perfect example of this. I would encourage everyone to vote no and make the board go back and put SPECIFIC language on the ballot for what the money is for, and have us vote again. If you want the bond, ok—but let’s get a specific plan with specific language on the ballot. An example would be “add an addition of X number of rooms to Beach elementary for X amount of dollars” not “build new facilities.” Do not give them a blank check. Vote no and ask them to give us a better plan.

Charlie Towns

City of Cedar Springs

POST SCRIPTS NOTICE: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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We need regular ways to hold presidents accountable


By Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. representative

 “I ask how and why this decision was reached,” Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said in the Senate recently. He was calling for an investigation into President Trump’s decision to pull US forces out of Syria. “Are we so weak and so inept diplomatically that Turkey forced the hand of the United States of America?” 

A good question, but if the Senate does launch an investigation, do you imagine Romney will get even close to posing it directly to the President? I didn’t think so.

We have a presidential accountability problem that has significantly worsened over the years. We’re losing the ability to call presidents to account on a regular basis for their actions and the way they fulfill the responsibilities of office. Sure, we have the big guns: elections and impeachment. But these are drastic steps, hard to employ and infrequently available.

What I’m talking about is a way for knowledgeable people to step beyond the White House’s control of presidential appearances, ask tough questions, and get real answers so that the American people can judge the President’s actions and reasoning.

When Franklin Roosevelt was president, the press corps had plenty of opportunities to hold his feet to the fire. When more formal press conferences took hold, they were frequent and generally free-wheeling affairs. Americans learned a great deal both about the men who inhabited the Oval Office and their thinking. Over time, however, press conferences became infrequent, stage-managed performances.

So how do we get the President to outline the thinking behind a policy? Or go into details on what led to a given decision? When Congress is working properly it can hold presidents and their administrations accountable through hearings, probes, and formal investigations. These are vital, but they don’t offer a regular chance to hear a president explain what’s going on.

Simply put, that’s what we should be doing: Presidents should have to answer questions regularly about their thinking and their policies, put to them by people who know enough to dig deep. In a representative democracy, that’s how we citizens can judge whether our chief elected leader is representing us and living up to his or her responsibilities.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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