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Tag Archive | "Board of Education"

Honoring Outstanding School Board Members


 

Dear CSPS Families and Colleagues:

It is the time of year when we focus on that for which we are thankful.  There are many things in our district and community for which to be thankful, including those who rise above self and serve others.  Mr. Joe Marckini and Mr. Jeff Gust have done just that as they have served on our CSPS Board of Education for several years.  Please join me in thanking them for their volunteerism and for taking on the challenges of leadership with courage, engagement and compassion.

csps-joe-marckiniMr. Joe Marckini is a lifelong resident of Kent County and has been a Cedar Springs resident since 1996.  He is the proud father of 2 wonderful daughters, both CSHS graduates.  He and his wife Elizabeth are strong supporters of public education and have been active volunteers throughout the CSPS district and the Cedar Springs community.

Mr. Marckini is an active participant in the legislative process at the local, state and national level. He has taken trips to Washington D.C. to advocate for our Cedar Springs schools.  He is passionate about always doing what is best for students and has dedicated nearly 10 years of his time to seeing that passion through to successful results.  Mr. Marckini has participated in thousands of hours of school board member training and has earned several levels of achievements and awards as well as serving as President of the Board of Education.

csps-jeff-gustMr. Jeff Gust is a lifelong resident of Cedar Springs.  He and his wife Barb are proud graduates of CSHS.  They are the proud parents of 3 great children who all graduated from CSHS!  Not only does Mr. Gust serve but his wife does as well as a secretary at our high school.

Mr. Gust is well respected for the countless hours he has spent throughout the district, whether it is to referee the Red Flannel Festival powder puff game, serve in the concession stands, join in the excitement of Back-to-School nights, or help our littlest students find the correct bus the first week of school.  Regardless of the event or activity, you’ll find Mr. Gust there exhibiting his great Red Hawk pride!

Mr. Gust has served for nearly 6 years, most recently as the Secretary of the Board of Education.  Prior to that he has dedicated much of his time as a member of the Finance and Sinking Fund committees.

As these 2 long-term Board of Education members go off the board at the end of December, we will remember them for their selfless volunteerism and leadership as it’s quite impressive to give so generously in an effort to do what is best for kids.

Thank you, Mr. Marckini and Mr. Gust, you and your service to our district and community will be sorely missed!

Laura VanDuyn

Laura VanDuyn

Warmly,

Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools

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Student Presentation – Costa Rica: A Touch of the Tropics


csps-boe-student-presentation-a

November 7, 2016 Board Meeting 

csps-boe-student-presentationTeacher Amy Holmes and her students presented to the Board of Education an outstanding presentation of their adventures on their Costa Rica Trip. The Costa Rica trip took place June 23, 2016 – July 2, 2016. These students detailed their wonderful daily experiences with the local culture. Students commented that the trip was truly an experience; to be able to use the native language and communicate was incredible.  These students also commented on how the trip has positively influenced their lives and broadened their understanding of the world and other cultures. The Costa Rica trip was a great experience and filled with memories the students will take with them forever. They concluded the presentation with a big thank you to the Board of Education for approving this Costa Rica trip and encouraging more just like it in the future.

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From the Superintendent’s desk


Laura VanDuyn

Laura VanDuyn

Dear CSPS Families:

It’s hard to believe that November is here. We are so engaged in what we do as educators and students that the time flies…and YES, we are having fun! Our first 2 months of school have brought many fantastic opportunities for our students and staff. I’d like to update you on progress we continue to make as a progressive district serving our kids with passion and collaboration.

  • Strategic Planning: We are moving right along and look forward to completion of the process soon. This important process is one that a school district takes on every 3-5 years. It enables the Board of Education to establish the vision (where we are going as a district), mission (why we are here doing what we are doing) and core values (how we go about doing our work). This process involved approximately 125 people in feedback groups. Those groups were established by leaders from our teachers, parents, students, community members, support staff and administrators. The Board of Education is now using all the feedback from the constituent groups and will eventually vote on approving the strategic plan that will have 4 goals: academic, environment, 21st century learning, finance. This process has been inclusive and engaging!
  • Our new math curriculum implementation is going very well and rave reviews are coming in from our teachers, students and parents. Our principals are working with our teachers on tight alignment of the new K-5 curriculum with the 6-12 curriculum. This is exciting work for all of us. We are so proud of the process we put in place over the last 2 years to have our teachers work in collaborative groups to select the curriculum.
  • We are excited to know that our work on Responsive Classroom® (RC) is now being talked about in other districts. I’ve received phone calls and emails to talk about the great benefits of RC and the possibility of other districts looking at training for their schools. We are excited to be the first district to bring this to our region! Please read the article about our outstanding teachers and principals implementing RC in the School News Network: http://www.schoolnewsnetwork.org
  • We are proud that our band students and directors are leading the way after coming in 3rd in two recent state band competitions. Our band will perform at Ford Field on Saturday. Thank you all for helping Cedar Springs lead the way…you make us proud!
  • Hat’s off to our business department staff under the leadership of Rosemary Zink, CPA, MBA and CFO! There has been a lot of work in the business department over the last year. We are elated to know that we are moving forward with transparency in reporting, collaboration and inclusion in budgeting and in systems development. Last November 1st we had to employ the services of a consultant to provide an overview of our business services after concerns were raised by a community member throughout the summer and into the fall of 2015. The great news is we were able to get a comprehensive look at our business practices in order to plan forward. Additionally, we were able to keep our business department going until we were able to hire Ms. Zink. Our business department employees are so dedicated to making sure we all have what we need to do our jobs. We are excited about what is ahead and purposely put a financial goal in the strategic plan to keep a sharp focus on all the advancements that are being made in the business department.
  • Anne Kostus and our terrific team of teachers and counselors at the high school continue to rally around Early Middle College. We are one of few districts offering this opportunity to our high school students. We are proud of being on the leading edge of this statewide initiative. This is so important for giving our students an advantage in college readiness. Hat’s off to all who are making this happen for our amazing students!
  • The OK2Say program has now been implemented at Red Hawk and with our current 7th and 8th graders at the middle school. We were honored last April when our Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and his team thought enough of Cedar Springs Public Schools to spend his day with us kicking off the OK2Say program. That dedication to our district, being a leader in the OK2Say initiative, is humbling. We attribute that to Jo Spry, our Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, as she brought the program to Michigan. We love being on the cutting edge of such important work to keep our schools safe.
  • It’s clear by looking around our campus that our maintenance and grounds crew are working hard. In fact, we have data to prove that. Mr. Ken Simon, our new Director of Operations, is tracking data on work orders and setting goals for his department. Thus far his hard-working team has reduced work orders in progress to 8%…and the goal was 10%! We thank Mr. Simon and his team for supporting all we do as a district as their work is foundational to providing a wonderful learning atmosphere for our students.
  • We are proud of the staff we’ve had with us for many years and are proud of the new staff joining us for the first time this year. Last school year we created and continue to develop an excellent Human Resources Department. Leading that is Ms. Carrie Duddles who is doing a stellar job for all staff and for the district. To that end, there are processes that have been put in place that structure hiring and provide streamlining with the technology, payroll and other departments. There is misinformation that 50 or more employees resigned from the district since January, 2016. It can be confusing as there are times when people on the resignation list are those who resign from one position, such as interventionist, who actually earned another position, such as a teacher. Therefore, their names will appear as resignations when in fact, they are still employees of the District. Furthermore, retirements such as the 11 we had last spring along with 2 leaves of absence that were granted appear in the same category as resignations/layoffs. To add to that is the fact that there are some employees who earn what is called a “schedule B” assignment/salary for coaching athletics, etc. Those positions are counted on the resignation list when someone decides they won’t be able to coach anymore. Those may be teachers or support staff employed by CSPS who are only resigning their coaching positions, not their full-time positions … or they may be people who do not work in the district but only coach a sport, etc. As you can see, there is a lot that can make a list appear to be something it is not. The lists contain all support, teaching and administrator positions. Simple lists can be misleading without understanding what all is encompassed in them, but we know as we calculate the numbers of actual resignations that we are well within a general range of what can be expected for any district. It’s always important to gather the facts and we encourage all to seek facts prior to establishing concerns. Thankfully, we are putting these important processes in place to track our hiring, seniority, benefits, payroll, etc. These structures are incredibly important to keeping the District on track in budgeting…we are proud of the work we are doing in this area!
  • It is our honor to have with us, Dr. Barbara Johnson, a National Blue Ribbon School principal, principal of a Top 10 school in the state and a Reading Now Network school. Dr. Johnson is working with our new “Leader in Training” at Beach Elementary School. We are so very fortunate to have Mrs. Miranda Latimer (one of our excellent CSPS teachers who earned a leadership position in the district) as our administrator at Beach Elementary. She is getting the benefit of learning from our outstanding principal team as well as from Dr. Barb Johnson. It is to our benefit to have someone who has been a principal recognized in the state and nation for her terrific contributions in education. Please know that the affordability in this comes from a “Leader in Training” salary that is significantly less than a principal in order to afford the mentor, as agreed upon by the Leader in Training upon accepting the position. Dr. Barb Johnson is being talked about all over Michigan…we are THRILLED to be a district benefiting from her services.
  • NEOLA policy work continues as we are nearing the end of the work to add the Administrative Guidelines to the policies that were adopted this summer. This Board of Education and administration have worked long and hard to do a complete policy overhaul to ensure we are on board with the most state-of-the-art policy that is constantly updated and inclusive of any changed or new legislation. It’s so nice to be a district on the forefront of important reform such as policy as it guides what we do as a district.
  • Our School Resource Officer program is serving our students, staff and families so well. We have seen the countless benefits of the program in such a short time and look forward to continuing to develop the program. We are fortunate to bring this program to CSPS and know that it’s making a difference in our school operations and in our student and staff well being. Thank you, Deputy McCutcheon, for all you are doing to make this innovative program a success!

As we enter into the season for recognizing all we have to be thankful for, know that our staff and Board of Education are thankful that you share your most cherished blessings with us. Thank you for partnering with us to be make a positive impact in your child’s life. We, at CSPS, take very seriously what we do as educators to support your child in developing a successful present and future life. To that end, we hold high expectations and a commitment to accountability for ourselves and for our students. We are thankful that we do this together as we know our purpose is the same…seeing your child reach his/her potential.

It is an honor and privilege to serve as your superintendent. Please contact me at any time, should I be able to support you and your child in educational success.

Warmly,

Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

CSPS Superintendent of Schools

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From the Board of Education


 

Dear CSPS Staff & Families:

Fall:  cooler nights, crisp air, colorful leaves, apples, cider, pumpkins, and a host of other things which hopefully signify fond memories of the season for you.   Your child has settled into a familiar routine of attending school and being involved in related activities.  Just as your child is learning new things in class every day, we as adults should also be learning something new every day.  We have staff members who are learning about Responsive Classrooms, the new math curriculum or attending college classes to further their education.  Education never ends.  Your school board members are also taking classes to increase their knowledge of their job as a member of the school board.

The Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) offers many classes for our Board members.  By taking classes and being involved in certain activities, Board members can receive credits which are applied to seven different levels of Certification/Awards.  Three of our Board members have completed Levels 2 or 3.  Board trustee Joe Marckini has completed Level  6 and is very close to completing the highest achievement of Level  7, the President’s Award of Recognition.  He has also received the Advocacy Skills Specialty Certificate and the Data Specialty Certificate from MASB.   Joe has spent thousands of hours in consistently increasing his knowledge as a school board member.  The education he has received continues to be an asset to the Cedar Springs’ School District.

Joe has served faithfully on the Board since 2007.  He has advocated on the local, state and national level on behalf of all CSPS students to get their educational needs met.  He has continued to push for  free early-childhood education and that a STREAM (Science, Technology, wRiting, Engineering, Arts, Math) education is a necessity for our students.  Joe has gone to Lansing and Washington DC several times to advise our legislators that they are not meeting the needs of the students of Cedar Springs.  We should all thank Joe Marckini for all he has done and will do for the students of Cedar Springs.   Congratulations on your achievements and passion with regards to the students of Cedar Springs Public Schools!

Sincerely, Patricia Eary, 

CSPS Board of Education President

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Cedar Springs Board of Education candidates


 

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:

Joe Marckini

Joe Marckini

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

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

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

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!

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From the Superintendent’s desk


 

Laura VanDuyn

Laura VanDuyn

Dear Cedar Springs Public Schools Families:

It is my hope you are enjoying our transition to the early days of fall. I was born and raised in the great state of Michigan and I’ve always LOVED this time of year. We especially love this time of year at my father’s house in the U.P. as the crisp weather means great bonfires, preparing for deer season and generally loving being outside in the peaceful surroundings. This is a wonderful time of year for children, especially after getting into the routine of the school year and enjoying the traditional Cedar Springs Red Flannel Festival…not to mention the thrill of Halloween!

As we head into this refreshing season at the start of our year together, it’s important to share the ways in which we communicate with all of our constituent groups. It is greatly important to me and to our Board of Education that we keep you apprised of happenings in the district.  Following are just some of the many ways we communicate with our staff, students, parents and community:

• Our new website

• Board of Education meetings (recorded and uploaded to YouTube)

• Newsletters

• Phone calls

• Emails

• The Red Hawk Review (electronic and sent via email to every CSPS family and any community members who request it as well as it being posted on our new website)

• The Cedar Springs Post articles and school pages

• Parent-Teacher conferences

• Open Houses

• Weekly folders

• Meetings with the superintendent at our local cafes (10/7 is the next opportunity)

• Facebook

• Teacher Web pages

• Twitter

• Progress Reports and Report cards

• Office announcements

• Face-to-Face meetings with the superintendent

• Annual State-of-the-School-District address

• Michigan Association of School Board workshops (November, 2015 and April, 2016)

• Strategic Planning Process

• School improvement process

I am grateful to all who ask the questions about what is happening in our district. I continue to extend an opportunity to meet with anyone wishing to meet so that any and all questions about our district, our Board of Education, etc. can be answered. Furthermore, it’s an opportunity to share some of the great work that has been shared at Board meetings, as we know not everyone can attend…which is one reason we publish them on YouTube.  It’s been refreshing to have so many staff, students, parents and community members meet with me to ascertain how we are progressing as a district.

csps-conversation-with-the-superintendentAs you know, especially from the many ways we communicate with our staff, families and community, I want every citizen, staff member and parent of Cedar Springs to ask questions and to be well educated about all that is happening in this great district.  We are proud of the forward motion we’ve made and will continue that trajectory.  I would love an opportunity to get to know you, to learn how I might support your wishes or to answer any questions you may have.  I encourage you to schedule a meeting, call or drop by for a visit as I enjoy getting to know our students, families and community members. I can assure you, you’ll be enlightened to hear about the terrific progress we are making to serve our students well!

It is an honor to serve as your CSPS superintendent.  I take great pleasure in knowing that at CSPS, students come first and that this great district is moving along in an excellent way, with a lot of support, to serve students and families.  On behalf of the CSPS Board of Education, administration, teachers and support staff, thank you for partnering with us to provide the very best education for our students.

Warmly,

Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

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Ocotober School News


csps-spiritwear1Fall 2016 Athletics Spirit Themes

All attending are encouraged to participate

October 7 – Pink Game Football vs FHN

October 14 – Red Out Football vs FHC

October 20 – Black Out Volleyball vs FHE

csps-spiritwear2October 21 – 80s Night Football vs Ottawa  Hills

November 4 – Gray Day Band During the School Day

Come out and support Red Hawk Athletics.

Follow on Twitter @Cedar_Athletics

Board of Education

Board of Education Work Session – 09-26-16

Topic:  Strategic Planning

csps-strategic-planning-work-session-092616Next Board of Education Meeting October 10, 2016

Hilltop Community Building, Board Room – 3rd Floor, 6:45 PM

Board meeting notices, agendas and minutes are available at www.csredhawks.org/District/Board-of-Education/index.html.  Community members are always welcome to attend the Board of Education meetings.  A Board meeting is a meeting of the Board held in public, not a public meeting.

The Office of Communication aims to keep the community informed and engaged while promoting the mission, achievements, and challenges of Cedar Springs Public Schools.  We welcome feedback and invite you to attend public Board Meetings to also help you stay informed.  You are welcome to call the District Office at 616-696-1204 or email newsletter@csredhawks.org.

The Office of Communication is responsible for crafting and disseminating all District-level communications, including:  District programs and initiatives, District school calendar, Board meetings and activities.   The Office of Communication shares information through several channels, including:  District website, School websites, Facebook, Red Hawk Review eNewsletter, Backpack eFlyers.

Would you like to receive the latest District eNewsletter in your Inbox?

Email:  newsletter@csredhawks.org

The monthly eNewsletter is designed to keep you informed of the exciting progress of our students and district. And, a great source of important dates and information about the many programs and events that go on throughout the year. Integral to success in schools these days is the support of the community. With that in mind, we invite you to connect with our schools during the school year by coming to our events and visiting our website.

Each year, numerous community organizations submit flyers, announcements and promotional literature to Cedar Springs Public Schools with requests to send them home to our families. Backpack eFlyers is a paperless means of distributing flyers, newsletters and other important notices that your child would normally bring home in their backpacks.

For a complete list of approved Backpack eFlyers, please visit www.csredhawks.org/Communications/Backpack-eFlyers/index.html

csps-partinggift-library1Students Build Parting Gift: A Library

Lily and Chloe (far right) built the library this summer with fellow students, including (from left) Madeline VanSinger, Madison Layne and Alexandria Vanderhyde

Lily and Chloe (far right) built the library this summer with fellow students, including (from left) Madeline VanSinger, Madison Layne and Alexandria Vanderhyde

by Charles Honey, SNN Reporter 

 

Now that they’ve built it, they hope people will come.  A new Little Free Library stands near Red Hawk Elementary school, thanks to the efforts of two former students there who love reading so much they wanted to share the love.

Incoming seventh-graders Chloe Grifhorst and Lily Howland received a grant last spring from the Cedar Springs Education Foundation to build a Little Free Library somewhere on the campus of Cedar Springs Public Schools. The pair sought the $250 award so that students and adults would have access to free books and a place to donate them as well.

After putting together a committee of students to research, plan and design the library, Chloe and Lily held a “build-a-thon” with other students in June at Lily’s house. Lily’s father, Alan, helped with the construction and made sure the young woodworkers were safe. The four-shelf turquoise structure now sits prettily between Red Hawk’s front door and the playground.

The girls have two boxes of extra children’s books with which to restock the shelves, and $100 left from the grant they plan to spend on more at Bay Leaf Books in Newaygo.

In an email, Superintendent Laura VanDuyn congratulated the girls on a “beautiful idea, planning, leadership and outcome.” Added Jo Spry, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, “This is something that these young ladies can be very proud of and will be of benefit to readers in our community.”

Madison Skelonc

Madison Skelonc

HATS OFF 

Congratulations Madison Skelonc, 8th grade student at Cedar Springs Middle School, has been invited to the HATS OFF Award Ceremony for being one of the top-scoring 7th grade students in Michigan who took the SAT test or ACT test.  The testing was part of the Northwestern University Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS).  We salute Madison on her achievement!

Members of the NUMATS Advisory Board will recognize Madison and about 300 distinguished middle school students for outstanding accomplishments in the 18th annual HATS OFF recognition ceremony for High Achieving Talented Students (HATS).  The award ceremony will take place on October 22, 2016.

csps-math-parent-university-tableMath In Focus Parent University 

September 27, 2016 – During this informational event, parents discovered why Singapore Math is so successful & Math in Focus teaches students to go from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract.  Parents also learned strategies that can be used at home and what is available online.

There will be another Math In Focus event planned for January 2017.  Watch for the information once the event details have been determined.

csps-math-pd-092916-rhrOur New Elementary Math Curriculum – Math In Focus

Math In Focus professional development for grades K-5 teachers was held the week of September 26, 2016.  This training was coordinated by the Teaching and Learning Department at the District Office.

2016 CSPS Fall Parent Teacher Conferences

Mon, 10/17: Cedar View 3:45 – 7:15

Red Hawk 4:00 – 7:00

Tue, 10/18: Middle School 4:00 – 7:00

Beach 3:45 – 7:15

Wed, 10/19: Red Hawk 3:00 – 6:00

Cedar View 3:45 – 7:15

New Beginnings 3:30 – 6:15

Thurs, 10/20: Beach 3:45 – 7:15

Middle School 4:00 – 7:00

Mon, 10/24: Cedar Trails 4:00 – 7:00

Wed, 10/26: Cedar Trails 4:00 – 7:00

Tue, 11/1: High School 5:00 – 7:30

Wed, 11/2: High School 3:00 – 5:30

September 2016 Student Athletes of the Month 

Cayla Lange

Cayla Lange

Jacob Outwin

Jacob Outwin

Myla Umphrey

Myla Umphrey

Sophomore Cayla Lange has been named Student Athlete of the Month for Sideline Cheer.

Junior Jacob Outwin has been named Student Athlete of the Month for Boys Soccer.

Junior Myla Umphrey has been named Student Athlete of the Month for Girls Cross Country.

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Financial review of school shows tighter control needed


csps-hawk-logo

By Judy Reed

UPDATE Sept. 23, 2016: The section on p-card credit limits and purchase limits has been revised to reflect more accurate information.

A forensic audit into record keeping in the athletic department at Cedar Springs Public Schools did not show any intentional misuse of funds or fraud, but did show that the district needs to have stricter policies and procedures on procurement cards and ensuring employees have the guidelines on how to use them.

“The investigation was a reflection of concerns brought to us about athletic accounts,” explained Dr. Laura VanDuyn, Superintendent at Cedar Springs Public Schools. “When several concerns mounted, the board decided to go ahead with the investigation. We are accountable to the community, staff, and parents. We are stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

According to the report, Rehmann Corporate Investigative Services was contacted on December 11, 2015, by the Thrun Law Firm (representing CSPS) to request a review of financial transactions and internal controls at Cedar Springs Public Schools. The review included forensic accounting analysis and interviews. Additional investigation involved purchase or “P-cards” issued to 13 unique employees, and a more detailed review of all transactions impacting the football team’s agency account during the 2015-2016 school year.

The results of the Rehmann report, which was printed in June, was initially suppressed from the public under attorney-client privilege. The Cedar Springs Board of Education voted on August 8 to make it available to the public. According to the board minutes, the vote passed 7-0. No video was available for that portion of the meeting, but according to the Superintendent’s office, there was no public discussion about its contents.

The Post asked Supt. VanDuyn why they decided to release the report now. “People would ask whatever happened with that investigation, and we are accountable to our constituents, so decided to release it,” she explained.

The report explained that purchases made using the p-cards are generally allocated to a specific fund. At CSPS there is a general athletic department fund, a general fund for each team, and an agency fund for each team (which is generally restricted to funds raised through boosters and other sources). The report said that according to their investigation, there does not appear to be any consistent practice with regards to when purchases should be paid using agency funds instead of general funds, nor when a general athletic department expense account is charged for a purchase instead of a team account. It said there also didn’t appear to be any consistent methodology for allocating expenses between more than one team when there was shared expenses.

The report also indicated that during review of p-card purchases and receipts, that in only a few instances was the reason for the purchase adequately documented, and little indication that the purchase had been reviewed and approved by anyone (such as a supervisor). Detailed receipts could not be found for purchases in some instances. One such instance they mentioned was a credit card purchase in July 2013 by then Athletic Director Autumn Mattson from Daktronics for $8,437. The company sells scoreboards, audio systems, message boards, etc. The report said that no detailed receipt was attached to the credit card statement, so they couldn’t ascertain what the purchase was.

VanDuyn said that many of the instances referred to happened before either she or Finance Director Rosemary Zink took office. She did say, however, that she has confidence in the accounting department. “They do make sure there are receipts, they are very strict about that,” said VanDuyn.

The report noted that “based on our limited review of the purchases initiated on the p-cards for the Athletic Department under the control of Autumn Mattson, we did not note any purchases that were inherently inappropriate. In many instances, the lack of a detailed receipt hindered our ability to review what was purchased and make a determination with regards to its appropriateness.”

The Post asked why the yearly auditor would not find the discrepancies that the forensic auditor had. “The difference between an annual audit and this one is that the annual audit is making sure you are spending federal money the way you are supposed to,” explained VanDuyn. “They might do random samples of two credit cards. They don’t go through all the transactions detail by detail.”

There were several exhibits attached to the original report that included the policy and guidelines for the p-card holders, and referenced purchases. The school did not release those exhibits. “We only released the executive summary,” explained Van Duyn. “The rest would’ve been problematic. We wanted to protect the confidentiality of those employees,”

The Post asked if there were guidelines that all the p–card users have, and was told all p-card holders have to sign off on them. We asked to have them sent to us but the guidelines didn’t seem to be readily available.

Another problem noted was that the different departments keep track of their budget on an Excel spreadsheet, while the accounting department then gets together with them every so often to reconcile the account. The investigator was not able to reconcile an error in the athletic department’s Excel spreadsheet for funds available for the football team at the end of 2014.

The report said it was important to note that the accounting department maintains the agency funds for the various teams and other groups at CSPS. “As a result, we believe that it would be difficult for a member of the athletic department to misappropriate funds once they had been remitted to the accounting department for deposit in to the bank. During our meeting with Coach Kapolka, he was provided with a copy of the invoices and other expenditures pertaining to the football team for his review. During this analysis, Kapolka did not indicate that any of the expenditures were inappropriate.” They felt the accounting records were more accurate than the athletic department records.

The report made a variety of recommendations. One was limiting the number of p-cards. CSPS currently has in excess of 70 p-cards, which they said means that the accounting department has to spend too much time reviewing statements and tracking down receipts. “The school is also at a heightened risk for financial loss due to the number of cards in circulation in the event of an abusive or tempted employee,” it said. They recommended cutting it down to 10, and to make as many purchases as possible through the accounts payable process.

The report also recommended lowering both the credit limit and purchase limit on p-cards, noting that they are mainly for small transactions. The AD had a credit limit of $20,000; the supervisor a limit of $5,000; and TV production of $35,000.

Many colleges and universities don’t have credit limits that large. For example, Cornerstone University p-card holders have a credit limit of $3,000 with a per purchase limit of $1,000; and Western Michigan University has a credit limit of $5,000 with a purchase limit also of $5,000.

The Rehmann report recommended lowering the purchase limit for Cedar Springs p-card holders to $50 to $100 for the majority of the cards.

Other recommendations included employees getting approval before purchases; including an explanation on why items were purchased using the p-card; developing and implementing clear guidance on when general funds should be used and when agency funds should be used; using a corporate Amazon account instead of individual accounts; requiring the submission of detailed receipts; and more.

Dr. VanDuyn said they haven’t implemented any of the recommendations yet. “We will look at all the recommendations from the Rehmann Report. It’s up to us to go through them and see what works for us. We are looking to review them and see which things we will address,” she said.

So what’s the bottom line? “It basically says we need to clean up our business practices. We want accountability and have high expectations of all of our employees,” remarked VanDuyn. “Anytime you can work hard to make things better, it’s worth it.”

The Post asked for a statement from former AD Autumn Mattson regarding the report and the information it contained. “I was aware that CSPS was reviewing their financial processes and procedures. And after reading the report, I can see that no illegal activity was found. I wish CSPS the best of luck as they implement the recommendations that were in the report,” she said.

Anyone wishing a full copy of the report may file a Freedom of Information Act with the school.

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Board of Education


Board of Education High School Reps

Board of Education 2016 High School Representatives were introduced at the 8/8/16 Board of Education Meeting

Board of Education 2016 High School Representatives were introduced at the 8/8/16 Board of Education Meeting

CSPS-Board-of-Ed-girlsNext Board of Education Meeting 

September 12, 2016

Hilltop Community Building, Board Room – 3rd Floor, 6:45 PM

Board meeting notices, agendas and minutes are available at www.csredhawks.org/District/Board-of-Education/index.html.  Community members are always welcome to attend the Board of Education meetings.  A Board meeting is a meeting of the Board held in public, not a public meeting.

Posted in Cedar Springs Public SchoolsComments Off on Board of Education

Deputy Tom McCutcheon chosen as school resource officer


 

Kent County Sheriff Deputy Tom McCutcheon will be on the job 40 hours a week at Cedar Springs Public Schools next fall as the new school resource officer.

Kent County Sheriff Deputy Tom McCutcheon will be on the job 40 hours a week at Cedar Springs Public Schools next fall as the new school resource officer.

By Judy Reed

When students return to school in September, there will be a new face there to greet them. Deputy Tom McCutcheon was recently selected as the new school resource officer (SRO) for Cedar Springs Public Schools. The position is through a partnership with the Kent County Sheriff Department, which the Board of Education approved on June 6.

According to Sgt. Jason Kelley, of the KCSD Cedar Springs unit, interviews were held at the Cedar Springs Public Schools Administration Building on June 28, where eight members of the school had an opportunity to interview five candidates from the Sheriff Department for the position. As a result of the interviews, Deputy Tom McCutcheon was selected as the Cedar Springs School Resource Officer.

Deputy McCutcheon began his career with the Kent County Sheriff Department in 1993. During this time Deputy McCutcheon has gained extensive knowledge and experience in Community Policing. Deputy McCutcheon spent many years as a D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Instructor, speaking in many different school districts, including Cedar Springs.

“While teaching D.A.R.E., you were never at the same school two days in a row, but you still felt like you were part of something that helped kids change and was a good influence in their life,” noted McCutcheon.

The Post asked him why he wanted the SRO position in Cedar Springs. “I hope to be a positive influence to the young people there,” he explained. “A lot of people think of security, and students feeling safe. But it’s more. I want to be a part of the school. It’s like what being a community policing officer is; you try to be proactive. If there is criminal activity going on, and people look up to you and trust you, you can help reduce a lot of that.”

Deputy McCutcheon has a passion for serving kids and has had immense involvement in school and communities. He has served in the Comstock Park School District as a football and girls varsity softball coach. He started a local Boy Scout troop and established KOPS (Kids & Officers Productive Society, a program centered around helping disadvantaged youth build self-esteem to become productive students).

Deputy McCutcheon was recognized as the Kent County Sheriff Department Deputy of the Year in 2007, and School Officer of the year by the West Michigan Crime Prevention Association. He has also served as president of that same group.

The School Officer of the Year award was given to him for his work in the KOPS program. McCutcheon is proud of the work he did in that program. He said he had been working with the same young man over and over at East Kentwood’s alternative high school, who kept getting into trouble. He spoke with the principal, and they formed the program to help troubled youth get back on track. “Over the four years of the program, we had multiple grads go on to college or work; students go back to regular high school; and students that had no more involvement in crime,” he explained.

McCutcheon is excited to begin his new position in Cedar Springs in August, where he will be on campus 40 hours a week. “I am excited and looking forward to the challenge of getting to know them (the students) and them getting to know me. I’ll do what I can to help them succeed. It’s just another piece of the puzzle—me doing what I can to help them achieve their goals,” he said.

The position will be jointly funded by the school and the county. The Kent County Sheriff Department offered to fund 30 percent of the program. The outstanding cost to the district would be approximately $76,000, after the Sheriff Department’s contribution. The cost would cover wages and benefits for 40 hours per week for the deputy; all standard issued deputy equipment; a Kent County Sheriff car, fully equipped, fueled and maintained; and all police training and supervision.

“We look forward to our partnership with the Kent County Sherriff Department and a focus on school safety and security throughout our district,” said Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn. “We know through our surveys of staff and parents that they view safety and security as a priority for our CSPS and we do too! This initiative is just one way we are responding to that feedback. We now join many districts in Kent County in the SRO program and know it will serve us well.”

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