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Tag Archive | "Cedar Springs Board of Education"

School board bits


By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education met again on Monday, March 28. The meeting started with the board adding an agenda item to read a board statement, which was passed. Trustee Michelle Bayink asked to add an agenda item for discussion on comments from the last meeting, but it was not seconded, and died for lack of support.
Several people read letters or made comments to the board.
Bruce Marvel, an educator in another district, whose children attend Cedar Springs, asked the board, What are you? He noted Board president Eary’s statement about them only having one employee, and then asked why the contracts begin with the words “The Board of Education of Cedar Springs Public Schools and ____ enter into a contract”? He also asked if the board only has one employee, why did they tell the staff in the October 12 meeting, “if you don’t like it, you can take you services elsewhere”? (See an edited version of his letter on page 5)
Jan Wallace, a former member of the Board of Ed for 12 years, and said they were always transparent and accountable to the community. She noted the difficulties they overcame (a failed BOE recall, teacher’s strike, major budget issues) and how they healed with the support of the entire community and staff. She questioned Board president Patricia Eary’s statement about them only having one employee—the superintendent; and took issue with her previous statement about it not being an “open, public meeting…we are here to do the work of the board.” Wallace said the pubic is an important part of that work and has a right to speak. (See an edited version of her letter on page 5)
Tammie Drake, a school of choice mom, also spoke about communication has dissipated in the district. She said the board and superintendent are expected to listen, be curious, and act when needed. She said that we once were leaders and now people are asking what’s going on in Cedar Springs. (See her edited letter on page 6)
Teacher Libby Metiva also spoke. She asked that the board honor the request by trustee Michelle Bayink to address concerns by the community. She also asked who are the good ol’ boys? She said that term has been used in conversations in the community, and she wondered if the board might be allowing personal feelings or prejudices regarding good ol’ boys to influence their decisions as a governing body. She also tried to explain that the issue they are currently facing is not about the inability to embrace change. She listed several ways that the staff has changed over the last several  years. Metiva noted teachers with 30-plus years experience speaking out because they are concerned. “Clearly our community is dysfunctional and divided,” she said. “What is stopping you from digging deeper? Aren’t our children worth it?”
Jamie Zywycki spoke and asked the board members to remember that they are trustees for the students.
First grade teacher Karen Gebhardt, who is in her 30th year of teaching, also spoke. She talked about the anti-bullying program “be nice” and importance of treating people with respect. “While we’ve expected our students to abide by this, with the administration and teachers it’s been harder,” she said. “The days of intimidation are over. It used to be that way at Cedar Trails but it’s not anymore.”
Many have questioned Board president Eary’s statement that they only have one employee—the superintendent. And while they may give the Superintendent the authority to hire and fire, according to the Michigan Association of School Boards website, under powers and duties of the local school board, it says that specific provisions in the revised school code assigns the board responsibilities such as employing a superintendent, other administrators, teachers, and support staff personnel. That job is seen each meeting when the board votes on the consent agenda to approve new hires or release employees.
For more on school board responsibility visit https://www.masb.org/your-local-school-board.aspx.

Cedar Springs Board meeting statement

The board read a statement during the meeting. “Let me first begin by thanking all of you for being present this evening as a part of this school board meeting. We recognize the interest in education by our community members, and value the opportunity to gather, listen to one another and consider the affirmations, questions and concerns of the community as part of our service as the Cedar Springs Public Schools board members.
As we have encountered change during the course of the year, we have heard affirmations, questions and concerns. We are proud that our community cares a great deal about the quality of education available for all our children. The Cedar Springs Board of Education cares a great deal as well. We are committed to proved an education of excellence for the children in the community.
The board is working with the Superintendent to ensure that wwe are in line with educational best practices and operations across our district. We are committed to being data driven in our decision making, as we continually serve our students and inform our community. We are committed to civility and respect, especially when there is a difference of opinion. These are the values we must uphold and model for all in our district, including our students.
We also stand committed to holding individuals accountable to work with integrity in their positions. Whether an individual is the Superintendent, a teacher in the classroom, a coach or a support staff member, we have high expectations and we expect excellence in all that we do. Valuing high expectations for ourselves sets the foundation for the best educational programs for children in our district.
The Cedar Springs Board of Education is listening to the community and is responsive to your concerns. We will continue to be in communication regarding a range of issues in the days ahead. We believe the leadership team shares our commitment and together we are confident that the children of Cedar Springs are going to continue to receive a great education.
The board and district leadership team appreciate the hard work done on a daily basis by staff and teachers in the classroom and on the grounds of the district. Effective teaching and learning is happening, and here are some examples:
*Long time teachers like Larry Reyburn at Cedar Springs High School who has always wanted to teach since his days as an FFA student at CSHS in the late 1960s.
*Becky Powell, who over the past 20 years has provided many hours of college preparation volunteer time with our CSHS students.
*The teachers at Cedar Trails who were recently commended for their implementation of Responsive Classrooms by a national trainer.
*Staff at our Cedar Springs Community Health Center, who support the physical and mental health needs of all students.
*The many other stories of exceptional adacemic success by our students such as Madison Skelonc, a 6th grader honored for scoring in the top 20 percent of the ACT of all college-bound high school students.
*Many excellent contributions in our various co-curricular programs.
*Our many volunteers who continue to partner with Cedar Springs, including parents and grandparents.
We live in a community where our students are learning and accomplishing great things. We live in a community that cares about education and our students. As a board, we are committed to continue this tradition of excellence going forward. Our community partnerships make a difference in our shared commitment to provide a high quality, world class education that ensures success for every child through exemplary teaching and learning.

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A DISTRICT DIVIDED


 

N-Sunshine-logoResidents, teachers want answers from school board; others supportive of changes

By Judy Reed

“Why have four administrators left since Dr. Laura VanDuyn was hired as Superintendent two years ago? Why has the culture at Cedar Springs Public Schools changed?” Those are the questions that many residents and school employees are asking the Cedar Springs Board of Education, while many other residents and school employees say they are supportive of the changes.

The Board of Education heard both kinds of comments from a cross-section of residents and employees at Monday night’s standing-room only board meeting. Overflowing attendance has become the norm recently, as people on both sides of the issue yearn to have their voice heard.

The administrators in question have all resigned: assistant superintendent of teaching and instruction Steve Seward in fall of 2014; Cedar Trails principal Jennifer Harper, early 2015; associate superintendent of finance David Cairy, fall 2015; and most recently, athletic director Autumn Mattson, in February, 2016. Her assistant AD Tyler Wolfe resigned in December.

Of those that resigned, Harper was given a salary per her separation agreement, and was not allowed to talk about why she left. That led some people to speculate she was forced out. The Post talked to Dr. VanDuyn about it at the time, and told us it was an ongoing personnel matter. “We can’t reveal the nature because it is a personnel matter. But I think it’s important to say that it’s not a matter that has to do with criminal conduct or the safety of students.”

Van Duyn said Harper was put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. “We have clearly followed our district’s legal counsel in the matter,” she said.

At Monday evening’s meeting, teacher Sarah Holtrop spoke in support of the superintendent. “I’ve served under five different superintendents and five different principals,” she said. “I don’t feel it’s fair to blame Dr. VanDuyn for the resignations of four administrators. They could have chosen to accept her as superintendent. Personally I have found Dr. VanDuyn to be compassionate and caring.”

Teacher Lisa Schmidt also offered support, noting that change is difficult, and that Dr. VanDuyn is well-liked by many staff members in the district.

Resident Sam Gebhardt also offered his support to the superintendent and the board. “I graduated from here, raised my family here. I like the direction we are going right now. You hear a lot of negative comments, but a lot of people like it, too,” he said.

Former teacher and coach Ted Sabinas, who taught for 34 years and coached for 37, asked the board to look into why so many teachers and administrators are fearful for their jobs if they speak up or question how the district is being run.

Longtime teacher Mary Graf—a 39-year veteran—gave an impassioned speech to the board about her concerns with the changing culture in the district. She said she had heard remarks that the problems they are facing are because people are resistant to change, but she strongly disagreed. Graf noted that she had seen a lot of change over the years and hadn’t always agreed with it, but one thing remained constant, until now. “But through all of these challenges and difficult times, honesty and respect remained between the teachers, the school board, and the superintendent. Never did I experience the finger pointing, dishonesty, and disrespect that is currently permeating our school district. How does this type of culture help our students?” she asked. (Read her entire letter on here).

Teacher Josh Cooper spoke on behalf of the teachers at the High School, and showed support for their administrators, Principals Ron Behrenwald and Anne Kostus, and said they were deeply saddened at the loss of former Dean of Students and Athletic Director Autumn Mattson. He also talked about all the good things happening at the high school.

Resident Lee Mora asked the board when they were going to address Mattson’s appeal to the board for an exit interview. She had asked initially for an exit interview with the board of education, and since that is routinely done with human resources, was told by HR she could have an exit interview with them, but not with the board. She declined and appealed to the board. As of Wednesday, Mattson said she had not received a response from the board.

Mora asked the board why they wouldn’t want to gather all information possible from an administrator who had served there 14 years. Board president Patricia Eary told Mora that their legal counsel had said exit interviews were not to be done by the board, because they have only one employee—the superintendent.  (Read Mora’s letter on here).

Board trustee Michelle Bayink asked if they could possibly discuss some of these issues at the next board workshop, but Eary said she thought the agenda for that workshop was already set. Resident Sue Wolfe told the board she hoped they would discuss some of these concerns.

The Post contacted Board president Patricia Eary this week, and asked her whether the board was planning to address these concerns, whether at the next workshop, or through some other means, such as round table discussion with the board, superintendent, representatives of buildings, and the community. We also asked whether they would be responding to Mattson’s appeal; whether they wanted to know why these people left; and what did they think was the best way to restore unity in the district?

“The board employs one person and that is the superintendent,” said Eary. “The only exit interview the board would conduct would be with our one employee. In regard to the exit interviews for all staff members except for the superintendent, there is no right granted to anyone to have an exit interview in this state. Our school district does offer exit interviews and they are conducted by the Human Resource Department. The offer was made to Mrs. Mattson to have an exit interview with the HR Department.”

Eary offered a general response for the other questions.

“The Board of Education is committed to providing an excellent education for every child in the district. The Board of Education is committed to high expectations for excellence in all we do as a district. We hold ourselves and all others accountable and expect every person to work with integrity in all positions, whether the position be superintendent, teacher, administrator, support staff or coach.

“The Board is listening to the community and is responsive to their concerns and will continue to be in communication with the community in the days and weeks ahead.

“We believe our leadership team shares our commitment to our students and staff. Together we are confident the children and families are going to receive a great education at our district.

“The Board of Education would like to express our deep appreciation for the outstanding and dedicated staff. The teachers, administrators and support staff work very hard to provide a high quality education for our students. They do so during a time when education and expectations to meet high standards is continually changing. We are proud of our staff members.

“Finally, we would like to thank the many volunteers, parents and community members who continue to partner with us to serve the many students of Cedar Springs. We appreciate all who shared with us their concerns, suggestions and affirmations over the last several months.”

See several letters to the editor about this issue here.

Tell us—how do you feel about this? How do you think unity should be restored? Send your letters to the editor to us at news@cedarspringspost.com, and follow the guidelines (including word limit) on our Voices and Views page.

NEXT WEEK: Long range financial outlook—could district be headed into the red?

 

 

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January is National Board of Education Recognition Month


CSPS-super-heroes

Our school board members dedicate countless hours to our schools and community.  The seven members of the Cedar Springs Board of Education do this by always keeping children as the center of their work and decision making.

The district is planning to honor the Cedar Springs Board of Education members on the next Regular Board Meeting, January 11, 2016 – 6:45pm Hilltop Community Building, 3rd Floor Board Room.   Please join our entire CSPS staff in thanking our dedicated Board members.

Board members include Patricia Eary – President, Matt Shoffner – Vice President, Brook Nichols – Secretary, Michelle Bayink – Treasurer, Jeff Gust – Trustee, Joe Marckini – Trustee, and Shannon Vanderhyde – Trustee.

Thank you Cedar Springs Board of Education!

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School board chooses new interim member


Michelle Bayink

Michelle Bayink

Introducing Michelle Bayink

The Cedar Springs Board of Education has chosen Michelle Bayink as the new interim board member to finish out the term of Todd Hanson, who resigned last month, due to moving out of the district. His term is up at the end of December.

Michelle has lived in Cedar Springs for over 27 years, and is a graduate of the Cedar Springs class of 1999. She has been married to Brad for 14 years. They have three wonderful boys Graham, Carter, and Noah, who all attend Cedar Springs Public Schools.

Her education includes Associates Degree from Grand Rapids Community College and a Bachelors Degree in Sales and Marketing from Western Michigan University. Currently she works for Cintas, as a new business Facilities Sales Representative in the West Michigan area.

She wanted to join the School Board because she has always been passionate about education. When she spotted the opening on the school board, she decided she wanted to be a part of it. Michelle’s goal is to help continue the current positive direction with the budget and the high level of education for each and every student.

Michelle’s hobbies include spending time with family and friends. You might be able to catch her snowboarding in the winter and spending time on her boat in the summer. Michelle enjoys watching all sports and Ioves meeting new people.

Michelle is also running on the November ballot for a six-year term.

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School board member resigns


Todd Hanson

Todd Hanson

The Cedar Springs Board of Education is looking for a replacement for Todd Hanson, the board’s vice-president.

According to his resignation letter, which was effective Monday evening, Hanson resigned due to the sale of his home and moving out of district. He said there was not another reason.

“I have served the community of Cedar Springs for 5 years as a member of the board of ed,” he wrote. “I have enjoyed my time and I believe we have a great school system. Although I have to resign, I am confident that CSPS will continue to be a strong district and keep moving forward under the leadership of Dr. Laura VanDuyn. I was looking forward to getting to know her and working with her on district goals. I have also enjoyed working with all the other board members, administrators, teachers and support staff of CSPS. Collectively we have accomplished a lot in the last 5 years, especially considering the tight fiscal constraints that the state and district have been under. Thank you for allowing me to serve the community and I wish you well.”

Whoever is appointed to the fill the position will serve until December 31. Please see ad in this week’s POST, page 3, for more information.

 

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School board approves new superintendent contract


The Cedar Springs Board of Education tabled the contract for their incoming superintendent Monday evening, but made changes and approved it 6-0 in a special meeting Wednesday evening, April 16.

Concerns in the contract included putting a cap on moving expenses and clarification on the contract period.

The board selected Laura VanDuyn Ed.D., of California, late last month. To replace retiring Superintendent Ron McDermed.

VanDuyn is executive director of the State SELPA, Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority, a cooperative program providing special education services for school districts within the region. The Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority is located in Concord, approximately 22 miles northeast of Oakland, CA.

According to the contract, VanDuyn’s salary will be $147,000 for the 2014-2015 year; $149,800 for 2015-2016; and $152,796 for 2016-2017. She will also have 25 days of paid vacation. The contract also specifies up to $8,000 in paid moving expenses.

VanDuyn was chosen from among five candidates interviewed by the Cedar Springs Public Schools Board as potential replacements for retiring Superintendent Ron McDermed.

The other candidates were Assistant Superintendent David Cairy, a finalist in the interview process; Gibraltar/Shumate Middle School Principal Brad Coon; Boyne Falls Public Schools Superintendent Karen Sherwood; and Hudsonville Human Resources and Assessment Director Scott Smith.  They were selected from a pool of 15 applicants.

VanDuyn has served as executive director of the Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority from 2010 to the present.  She held a variety of administrative and leadership positions at the site, district and county levels from 2001-2010, and was an administrator in Minnesota from 1999 until moving to California.

She holds a doctor of education degree in organization and leadership from the University of San Francisco, a master’s in education administration from Minnesota State University and a bachelor’s in education from the University of Nevada.

“I’d like to convey my appreciation to the many staff and community members who took the time to come to the meetings and share their thoughts,” said Board President Brook Nichols.  “This was a very difficult decision because … the candidates brought different things to the interview and both (VanDuyn and Cairy) were very qualified.  Ultimately, the majority of the board felt that Laura VanDuyn would be a great leader for our district.”

 

 

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Cedar Springs to start Superintendent search


Superintendent Ron McDermed

Superintendent Ron McDermed

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education began input sessions this week from various groups in the community as they start their search for a new Superintendent.

Superintendent Ron McDermed will retire in July, after serving 25 years in the district. He was hired as an elementary principal in 1989, and served in that role until 1997, and then as associate superintendent over curriculum until 2009, when he was chosen as Superintendent to replace outgoing Superintendent Andy Booth.

The Board of Education voted to use the services of the Kent Intermediate School District, and consultant Mike Washburn, former Superintendent at Forest Hills Public Schools, to run the search.

The board met with community members prior to Monday night’s board meeting, and with several other groups this week at various school buildings. They would like input from parents, staff and community members in what they value in the Superintendent’s role. If you have not yet had a chance to attend one of these sessions, they will meet on January 20 with the Cedar Springs Education Association in Conference Room B at Hilltop at 6:30 p.m., and again before the regular board meeting at 6:30 p.m. on January 27.

You can also email questions and input to the various board members. Find the board members and their email addresses at http://www.csredhawks.org/board-education/meet-our-board-members

 

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School board bits


School to seek sinking fund millage for repairs
The Cedar Springs Board of Education voted Monday evening, December 12, to hold a special election on February 28, 2012, to seek a one-mill “sinking fund” to help finance repairs, renovations, and remodeling.
The school has been forced to cut millions of dollars in expenses the last few years, due to cutbacks in funding from the state of Michigan, which means  some repairs have been put on hold.
One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value of property. If the taxable value is $50,000, the cost would be $50 for the property owner. The millage would last 10 years and then cease.
“We’ve tried to maintain the buildings and roads the best we can, but there are things that need to be done,” said Asst. Superintendent David Cairy.
Road repair is one of the items that a parent group came up with. “We have a lot of miles of road on the campus,” noted Cairy. Other items include replacing boilers in the old buildings, improving parking at Cedar Trails, improving safety and security at building entrances, eventually replacing the turf on the football field, and other items.
Cairy emphasized this millage would not be for new construction, just repairs. “We are at a point (financially) where we really need it,” he said.
The school had put this proposal on the ballot last year but it was defeated. They decided to try again because they need the money, and because they said many parents had contacted them and said they didn’t know about it last year when the election was held.
Board votes no on OK conference realignment
The Cedar Springs Board of Education unanimously voted NO Monday evening on the realignment proposal from the OK Conference. Under the plan being proposed, Cedar Springs would be part of a new division—the OK Bronze—made up of six teams—Cedar, Forest Hills Northern, West Catholic, Greenville, Northview, and Forest Hills Eastern. They would play non-conference games in weeks one and two, crossover games with the Green and Gold in weeks three and four, and conference games in weeks five through nine.
“We are in a 8-team conference that has worked well for us,” said Suprintendent Ron McDermed. “Some teams are quite aways away.”
Principal Ron Behrenwald agreed. “It’s more transportation costs, more time on the buses. From a student standpoint, it’s not the best option,” he said.
School districts across the area are also voting on the proposal. Athletic Supervisor Autumn Mattson said that there is some talk that the proposal may not pass by the 2/3 vote needed, and that they would know for sure on Monday after the last two districts vote. She said it’s unknown whether they would leave things the way they are if it’s defeated, or go back to the drawing board. “It’s never happened before,” she said.

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