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Tag Archive | "Board of Education"

School board needs to fill short-term vacancy


By Judy Reed

Do you want to be on the Cedar Springs Board of Education? Now that certified election results are back, they have an open seat to fill for a term of only 21 days. 

They will be accepting applications for the vacancy until noon on December 10. If it’s decided they need to do interviews, you will be contacted no later than 4 p.m. that day, and the interviews would take place that evening at 6:45 p.m. For more info please click here.

So why is there an opening for only 21 days—December 10 through December 31?

According to Superintendent Scott Smith, it’s because of the way the law is written regarding appointed and elected positions. 

Two seats were up for election this year: seat #5 and seat #6. The people who won those seats will start their terms in January. Mistie Bowser and Jeff Rivard won those four-year terms.

The other two seats voted on were #2 and #7. Those were appointed seats, where someone left this year but their term was not up at the end of this year and the person appointed had to run for the seat again in November. The people who won those seats (Tracie Slager and Trent Gilmore) will start serving immediately since the term was not up.

Traci Slager was appointed in early 2018 to seat #2 to replace Ted Sabinas, and after winning seat #2 in the November election, she will serve out the remaining four years. She will take office immediately since the term was not up.

Mistie Bowser was elected to seat #5. Matt McConnon has been serving in that seat. He was appointed to fill that seat when Patricia Eary resigned. The term was up at the end of this year. McConnon did not run for it because he wanted to run for Courtland Township Supervisor. Mistie Bowser ran for the position and she will serve a four-year term starting in January.

Here is where it gets tricky. Jeff Rivard and Trent Gilmore did not run for the seats they were serving in. They ran for each other’s seats. One was an appointed seat where the term was not up, and the other was one due for election this year.

Jeff Rivard was appointed earlier this year to seat #7 to replace Tim Bauer, who had been appointed to replace Michelle Bayink, whose term was not up until 2020. When Rivard ran for election, however, he ran for seat #6, because the term on that seat was up. He will start serving a four-year term in that seat in January. 

Trent Gilmore was appointed this summer to seat #6 to replace Brook Nichols. Her term was to be over Dec. 31. When Gilmore ran for election, he actually ran for seat #7, the one currently held by Rivard, which is an appointed seat. So, Gilmore will take office immediately, and serve the final two years of the term for seat #7. Which means seat #6, won by Rivard, will be open because Rivard won’t begin to serve until January.

The remaining board members’ seats won’t be up for election until 2020 (Matthew Shoffner and Shannon Vanderhyde) and 2022 (Heidi Reed).

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Results of Board of Education write-in vote


By Judy Reed

The Post reported on the winners of the Board of Education vote after election day, but the results for a partial term were unknown at the time due to all of the candidates being write in votes. The results were finally in as of Monday, November 19, according to Gerrid Uzarski, Elections Director of Kent County.

For the partial term ending in 2020, current appointee Trent Gilmore won with 242 votes. Paul Stark received 125 votes, and Rachel Van Horn received 42. 

Gilmore was appointed in September to replace former trustee Brook Nichols when she resigned and moved out of the area. He will now be able to finish out the rest of her term. 

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Local election results


By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs and Sand Lake will both have new members on the boards, and the results of Cedar Springs Board of Education write-in votes are still unknown.

In the Cedar Springs City Council race, the two seats went to newcomer Renee Race with 558, and incumbent Pam Conley with 545. Shandell Napieralski had 304, and there were 18 write in votes. Voter turnout was 47.1%.

For the Cedar Springs Board of Education, there were four seats open, with three candidates running unopposed for three of the seats, and a two-year partial term with only write-ins running. The three unopposed candidates were Mistie Bowser (5,190 votes); Jeff Rivard (4,850 votes), and Tracie Slager (4,455 votes). Since only write-ins were running for the two-year partial term, we haven’t received those results yet. The Board of Canvassers at Kent County was due to start validating ballots at 1 p.m. Wednesday, but it could be another week before we have those results.

In Sand Lake, there were three positions open for trustee. Marcia Helton was on the ballot, and received 152 votes. There were also two others running running as write-ins, but only 37 votes were received for write-ins, so it is unknown yet who received those votes.

In the race for the 28th District Michigan senate seat, incumbent Peter MacGregor (R) won with 58.39 percent of the vote. Craig Beach (D) received 39.02 percent; and Nathan Hewer (L) received 2.6 percent.

In the race for 73rd District representative, Lynn Afendoulis (R) won with 60.11 percent of the vote, and Bill Saxton (D) received 39.89 percent.

In the race for 74th District representative, Mark Huizenga (R) won with 60.40 percent, and Meagan Carr (D) received 39.51 percent.

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BOARD OF EDUCATION


Heidi Reed –  President

Matt Shoffner – Vice President 

Traci Slager  – Secretary        

Shannon Vanderhyde – Treasurer

Trent Gilmore – Trustee

Jeff Rivard – Trustee

Matt McConnon – Trustee

2018 Meetings

October 8 & 22*

November 12, December 10

*work session

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Board of Education


 

2018 Meetings – August 27, September 10 & 24*, October 8 & 22*, November 12, December 10

Hilltop Community Building

Board Room – 3rd Floor

6:45 PM

*denotes work session


Dear Community Members, Staff and Students:

Welcome Back!  We are about to begin a new school year filled with hope and excitement at Cedar Springs Public Schools!  Our CSPS Brand Promise of Purpose, Potential and Pride is with us as we step out of summer refueled and ready to meet the challenges of this year.   

Purpose:  No matter what your role in the many important capacities in our school 

district; we are all an integral part of our schools being highly effective centers of learning. 

Potential:  We are grateful for our staff that is ready and prepared to pour into our students; by opening doors of wonder, understanding and information.   

Pride:   The hard work of students and staff brings pride and joy!     We look forward throughout this upcoming year for the many ways we can celebrate together student success.  

The entire Board of Education wishes everyone the best; as we welcome our students to their educational journey of 2018-2019.

Heidi Reed  

CSPS Board of Education President

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Recall petitions for BOE members available


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.

 


The recall effort for the board of education members Heidi Reed, Matt Shoffner, and Shannon Vanderhyde is officially underway. The specific language refers to what I and other members of the community believe was a violation of the open meetings act, but that is merely a symptom of the larger problem. This board has repeatedly ignored stakeholder voices. They are beginning to rush into selecting a new superintendent when at least 4, if not 7 seats will be up for election in November. I believe this to be a mistake. There are calls to put in place a highly qualified interim superintendent until we have a board that will be seated more than 6 months. The board openly silenced stake holders, can anyone trust that they will listen now? There will be petitions available at the Cedar Springs Burger King community room on Saturday May 5th 1-4 pm, Tuesday May 8th 6-9 pm and Thursday May 17 from 6-9 pm. A board who will not listen to voters cannot be allowed to continue to serve.

Molly Nixon, City of Cedar Springs

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Staff and others share reasons for wanting Superintendent to resign


By Judy Reed

Over 500 people filled the meeting room and foyer of Solon Township Hall Thursday evening to hear the personal stories of both current and former staff and board members of Cedar Springs Public Schools and how they have been affected by the policies of Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn.

Several of the speakers were in tears as they told their stories in public for the first time, despite fears of retaliation.

VanDuyn was hired to be Superintendent four years ago, but a movement within the community to get her to resign or for the board to give her a vote of no confidence has been steadily growing. An online petition has garnered just under 1,900 signatures, and paper petitions with signatures will be presented at the next Board of Education meeting on March 26.

Mary Graf, an elementary teacher for 41 years, said she has worked for seven superintendents and several principals over the years. She said there would always be change, but also there has always been mutual respect and collaboration with the administration. She remarked that now there is no collaboration, and that teachers now feel repercussions if they don’t completely agree with something or question anything. She said that happened to her last spring during a PLC on reading. There was a lot of tension in the room, and she said she tried to clarify how the teachers were feeling. The next week she received a letter from her administrator saying she had been unprofessional. Graf said her administrator had not even been in the meeting. When she met with him about it, he told her he was forced to write the letter.

Jan Wallace

Former board member Jan Wallace spoke about consultants, noting that the district had spent $300,000 over 15 months. “Do you wonder why our district has to consult outside experts so often?” she asked. Wallace added that $115,000 of that was spent on the Orange Frog program, “which teaches the staff to learn to be happier.” She felt they could have used that money on the deteriorating roads on campus. 

Wallace explained that when she was on the board, they looked at privatizing busing, and met with the staff to talk about it. “This board didn’t do that. They had a consultant come in to help,” she said.

Former board member Ted Sabinas talked about being locked out of the meeting on privatization of transportation; the fact that once he was on the board, staff and administrators told him they were not allowed to talk to him; and that all three elementary principals, two assistant principals, and the athletic director had all left in the last three years. He also noted that the Superintendent received a 3 percent raise while the staff did not receive a raise.

Joan Boverhof

Long time teacher Joan Boverhof spoke about the relationship between the teachers and administration eroding. She said that the board, administration and teachers union used to work together as a team but that was not happening now.

Teacher Brett Burns, who also president of the teachers union, said the union has been trying to repair the relationship with the board but they aren’t listening. He likened it to a child coming to him and saying he was being bullied and him ignoring it, and then the same thing happening again, and him not doing anything about it. “I am begging,” he said. “We are hurting. When are you, the community, and the board going to acknowledge that we are human?”

Secretary Mary Gardner was in tears as she shared an ordeal she faced about being forced to administer shots. She steadfastly refused, as she has a fear of needles. It was something nurses used to do. She finally got a lawyer involved.

Teacher Erin Cairy spoke about taking leave just before school started. She said the administration never reached out to her. Although she emailed a letter to be sent to the students who were supposed to be in her class and their parents, it was never sent. She also emailed asking how she could help the new teacher, but that went unanswered. She said she returned this year, and many questions she’s asked about programs, such as iready, have been taken as being negative.

At one point during the meeting, moderator Todd Norman asked the group how many were hearing these stories for the first time. Almost half the room raised their hand.

Teacher Libby Metiva said that the board of ed has said things that have wounded, but they have also been manipulated. “How can we help them? All of you are influencers. I’m asking all of you to help empower and influence the board members to take back Cedar Springs.”

Superintendent VanDuyn gave the Post a statement about the petition. 

“As superintendent, it is my promise to the community to make the best decisions I can to ensure our students have an exceptional educational experience while keeping our district financially stable. Our students should have a top notch school system to develop and grow. I am saddened by this petition as I am fully committed to making CSPS the best place it can be. My daily motivation and priority continues to be serving the students and families of CSPS.”  

To watch the entire video of the community meeting, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68xfuX_Ulsw&feature=youtu.be

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New sports turf installed at Red Hawk Stadium


Fall sports have kicked off, and one of the new items greeting athletes, the high school marching band, and fans, is the new sports turf at Red Hawk Stadium.

“We are excited to kick off the 2017-18 school year with a beautiful new Red Hawk Stadium turf,” said Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn. “As our Cedar Springs Public Schools campus is the center point of this great community, it is our honor to shine for all to see our Cedar Springs pride with this new look.”

Replacement of the turf was identified as one of the needs in a 2011 bond issue study for the sinking fund millage. The cost at that time was estimated at $750-850,000. However, Shaw Sports Turf came in with a cost of $406,990.

The turf was replaced this summer, in time for the marching band to hold their annual band camp.

“We are grateful for the research, experience and work our Athletic Director, Mr. John Norton, and our Director of Operations, Mr. Ken Simon did to prepare and oversee this project,” said VanDuyn. “We are also grateful for our Board of Education supporting the purchase and installation of our new turf as well as for our principals, maintenance department, coaches and music directors for their input.”

VanDuyn said she hopes the community will come out to various events to see the new turf, such as at soccer and football games, the CSPS fundraiser walk-a-thon, the Red Flannel Festival Marching Band Invitational and the annual Powder Puff football game.

She also thanked the community for their part in making it happen. “On behalf of our Board of Education, Administration, staff and students, thank you Cedar Springs residents for investing in our schools, by providing for a sinking fund that made this beautiful new stadium turf possible.”

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Response to “Reader disappointed in story choice”


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.


I too was at the last board of education meeting. I admire your dedication to family in supporting the position of a relative on the board, however there are a few statements you made that I don’t believe are accurate. One only needs to look through recent issues of the Post to see several articles about our students’ accomplishments. One article in the last 7 months bringing awareness to our community that our teachers are STILL working under fear and intimidation does not constitute a pattern. I would also argue that the ‘slanted viewpoint from the vocal minority’ is not accurate. The board meeting I attended was standing room only, and ended with a standing ovation from an overwhelming majority when Trustee Sabinas filed a formal complaint against Dr. VanDuyn. The Cedar Springs Post has a responsibility to this community to report ALL news, even if it’s something you don’t want to see. I don’t want to see our teachers publicly beg for help from the board of education month after month for over two years, yet here we are and it is STILL happening. So while we ALL would like to see news full of sunshine and rainbows, it’s difficult to admire the drapes when the house is on fire.

Tami Elliston, Cedar Springs

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Transportation News 


 

Board of Education Voted to Privatize Transportation Services

As you know, our transportation department is incredibly important to our students families, staff, district and community.  The department is a critical operation in our mission to provide a great education for our students.  Our transportation colleagues are tasked with providing a safe ride to and from school each day as drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, aides and supervisors.  As we all know, it is our drivers who are the first and the last staff members to see our kids each day.  We have a great deal of respect for their work and the commitment they make as an integral part of CSPS.

Last year a transportation study was done by Excel Consultants in order to look at our costs, our bus fleet, our routing system, etc.  Recommendations were made such as selling some of the old buses and getting a quote on what privatization costs would be compared to having our “in-district” transportation services.  The recommendations were adhered to and the result of the quote for privatization surfaced as a viable and fiscally responsible option for the District.  On Monday, April 24, 2017, the Board of Education voted to privatize transportation services with Dean Transportation.

Prior to bringing forth the concept of privatization, our Transportation Supervisor, Director of Operations, all of our transportation department employees and I worked through a long and important process together.  The process involved meetings together, meetings for our employees to have with Dean Transportation and meetings held with just the transportation department employees as a colleagial group.  All questions our employees wished to have answered were answered with regard to topics such as what a position with Dean would look like, what benefits would be offered versus not receiving benefits or full-time work with CSPS, what retirement in the public system would look like versus what they might gain by working for Dean, etc. Please know that the transportation department employees were in favor of privatization.  The majority asked to privatize and to do so only with Dean.  I brought forth a recommendation to the Board of Education in support of what the department voted for amongst themselves.

Having said that, please know it is not ideal for every transportation employee but rather the great majority; hence, their request to privatize.  We regret that any employee will leave our CSPS if it was not of their choosing.  We value every employee and the time they each have served here.  I am pleased to share that our buses will still have Cedar Springs Public Schools on them (not Dean Transportation) which is something that is very important to all of us.

Dean Transportation comes highly recommended and is committed to hiring on our supervisor, dispatcher and drivers and to making a smooth transition to the 2017-18 school year when they will officially take over.  Your child/ren will see the familiar faces of our drivers as well as they will still be with us but will be employed by Dean.  Additionally, our transportation employees will continue to spend time with us at the end and beginning-of-the-year ceremonies…they are still every bit a part of our great CSPS.

Please know that the savings to the district is approximately $350,000-$400,000/year on-going and a one-time sale of the bus fleet to gain $600,000 as we transition next year.  The budget for next year included 6 new buses at $510,000 that we would have to purchase each year going forward due to our very old fleet. Due to privatization that $510,000 can be removed from the budget planning process. Clearly, the Board considered all the financial information as it will be of benefit to the District to realize these cost savings.  Thank you for your understanding of the decision the Board made and please contact me should you have any questions or concerns.

I want to thank all who participated in the long and thoughtful process to help make this recommendation.  Dean Transportation was so impressed with the way we handled this difficult consideration and decision and the care we offered our employees. Our employees will be in a great company, should they choose to work for Dean.  Dean has a remarkable reputation for how well they treat their employees.   As always, thank you for partnering with us to provide an excellent education for your child.

Sincerely, Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.
Superintendent, Cedar Springs Public School
s

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