Residents in the Cedar Springs Public Schools district will vote on Tuesday, May 3, to fill two board positions and vote on whether to accept a one-mill sinking fund levy to help fund maintenance of school buildings and grounds. The sinking fund would last 10 years, and cost a homeowner with a $100,000 property value $50 per year. It is a pay as you go plan, and there would be no finance charges or interest. School officials say that with proposed cuts in the state budget and increased costs, they are looking at a $2.4 million in cuts, and that without additional funding to support infrastructure, they will be forced to cut programs for kids. For a flyer on the issue, click link: Sinking Fund Flyer.
There are three candidates running for two positions on the Cedar Springs Board of Education. Running are two incumbents—Joe Marckini and Jeff Gust—and newcomer Mistie Bowser.
Joe Marckini, a journeyman sheet worker, has lived in the district 15 years. He is currently board president. He has also served as vice-president, treasurer and trustee. He has served as the board’s legislative liaison and a member of the National School Board Association (NSBA) Federal Relation Network (FRN). He has earned through the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) a level one certification, award of merit, award of distinction, and an advocacy skill specialty award.
“I am seeking another term because I believe in providing all our students with a 21st century educational experience and look forward to working with our community to make this happen,” said Marckini. He noted that Cedar Springs Public Schools is a unique district, one that is collaborative and totally focused on student achievement.
Marckini said there were two major issues facing the district. “One is funding and the other is the new Nationwide Common Core Standards. I will continue to advocate on behalf of our district for full funding of both state and federal mandates. Although I commend our nation’s attention to educational issues (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)), I will continue to advocate the educating of the whole child when it comes to the implementation of the Nationwide Common Core Standards,” he explained.
Marckini said that he is not against sharing services or administrators with other districts to contain costs as long as it did not harm the district. “Our district is currently sharing services with Sparta and Kent ISD to save money. We are also moving forward with our neighboring districts in developing other possible shared services,” he said.
Jeff Gust, owner of Gust Construction, has lived in the district 43 years. He has served on the board for 16 months, and has owned or operated his own local business for 20 plus years. He has also coached in the school district for over 12 years.
Gust said he is seeking another term for several reasons. “I have three children who are currently attending CSHS or have graduated from CSHS, my wife is employed at the HS, and I wanted to have a say in the quality of their education and workplace,” he noted.
Gust said the major issue facing the district is funding from the state and federal governments. “We are on a very tight budget and it seems to be getting tighter every year. I think it is our job to ensure that the cuts we make are in the best interest of our students. We have an excellent teaching staff and support staff, along with administrators that all care about our students. We have been working with each of these groups on trying to make the right cuts that are in the students best interest,” he explained. “We are currently asking for a sinking fund millage to be passed by our community that would be used for repairs to roads and energy upgrades, etc. If the community sees fit to honor us by passing this bond we would have the duty to be good stewards of the money and spend it as wisely as we can. I would like to be a part of that process.”
Gust noted that he is not against sharing services or administrators with other districts. “I am all for it if we can save money by doing it and provide the same or better services to our community and students. We would need to do this carefully as to not burn our employees out with the added responsibilities,” he said.
Mistie Bowser has lived in the Cedar Springs district for 10 years. She currently is unemployed, but her previous job was as an account executive in business sales. She said she has at least 10 years of experience in participating on boards or committees. She was on the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Kent County board, with the last 8 years holding the positions of Vice President and President. She also served on the Michigan Public Policy Committee that successfully got the blood alcohol content level of .08 passed, and is currently the spokesperson for this side of the state for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Bowser said she decided to run for the Cedar Springs School Board because she wants to ensure her four children get the best education possible. “I look forward to listening to my friends, neighbors and people in the community and sharing their ideas or opinions with the board so an educated decision can be given,” she said.
Bowser sees budget issues and class sizes as two major issues facing the district. “A couple of issues that I’m seeing is the obvious budget cuts and it seems that our students are the ones paying and I find it disheartening. I’m irritated by the size of classes that my kids are in and I feel that this is hindering our children. We need smaller class sizes,” she noted.
Bowser said she would have to research sharing services and administrators with other districts before giving an opinion.
Voters should vote at the city or township polling place where they usually vote. Polls normally open at 7 a.m. Call your local government agency for more information.