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Tag Archive | "Cedar Springs Board of Education"

School board appoints new member


Trent Gilmore

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education interviewed five candidates Tuesday evening for the open board seat left by the recent resignation of secretary Brook Nichols.

The board took applications until Tuesday morning. The five who were interviewed included Tony Owens, Paul Stark, Mistie Bowser, Trent Gilmore, and James Halstead. The board then discussed the candidates and voted to offer the position to Gilmore.

Gilmore lives with his wife and children in Algoma Township. Two attend Cedar Springs Public Schools and another will start in a couple of years, according to his biography on the school’s website. Gilmore said his wife grew up in Cedar Springs and graduated from Cedar Springs Public Schools. He also said he grew up in an educational household because both his parents were teachers, and his father-in-law is also a teacher.

Gilmore works for Consumers Energy as Director of Revenue Operations. He is also experienced in labor relations, having managed in a union environment. 

The board liked several things about him—the focus on students; that he seemed well-rounded; had expertise in financial matters; and good decision-making skills.

“I have a strong desire to help provide the best for the schools,” said Gilmore. “Quality education is the key to our children’s future. I wanted to help ensure a quality educational environment and opportunity for my kids and all the children in the Cedar Springs school district.”

He also said he would be willing to run as a write-in in the November election.

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School board member resigns


Brook Nichols

Board seeks applicants to fill vacancy

By Judy Reed

If anyone knows what challenges the Cedar Springs Board of Education has faced over the last several years, it’s Brook Nichols. She served 14 years on the board—weathering both the good times and the bad—before resigning earlier this month to move closer to jobs and family. Her seat was up for vote again this November.

Nichols served two four year terms, and one six year term. “Being on the board was so much different than I thought it would be, but I learned a lot about myself, working with others and most importantly, I learned how much people in this community truly care about their students,” she told the Post. “Many things have changed over the 14 years I served on the school board and we have gone through some tough times and had to make difficult decisions, but I feel very optimistic about the future of CSPS and am excited to see what happens from here.” (See her entire letter to the community click here.)

The Board of Education is now looking for applicants to apply for her seat. The individual appointed will fill the vacant position through December 31, 2018 and will be replaced by the individual elected to the position (based upon the November 6, 2018 election results) on January 1, 2019.

Interested persons must submit a letter expressing interest in a board position and their qualifications for the position to the superintendent no later than Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. Any person who has previously applied as a candidate must resubmit their qualifications to the superintendent by the deadline.

Following a review of the submitted materials, the board will identify a pool of candidates to interview. Not all interested persons for the board vacancy will be interviewed. The interviews will take place at a Special Meeting of the Board of Education open to the public. The date of this meeting is Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. See public notice on page 17 of our e-edition.

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Farewell from Brook Nichols


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.

 


Farewell from Brook Nichols

Fourteen years ago, I decided to run for the school board. There were two seats open and five candidates. I was fairly new to the area and didn’t know many people, but I was successfully voted in and ran for two additional terms after that. Being on the board was so much different than I thought it would be, but I learned a lot about myself, working with others and most importantly, I learned how much people in this community truly care about their students. Many things have changed over the 14 years I served on the school board and we have gone through some tough times and had to make difficult decisions, but I feel very optimistic about the future of Cedar Springs Public Schools and am excited to see what happens from here. Since our youngest graduated, we decided to move closer to our jobs and family, so I had to resign a few months prior to my term ending. I will miss being a part of this community on a daily basis, but will always be grateful for the years we lived here and raised our girls here. Thank you for the opportunity to serve on the school board for so long. See you on Red Flannel Day! 

Sincerely,

Brook Nichols

Former member of Cedar Springs Board of Education

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School board recall drive suspended


 

By Judy Reed

A drive to recall three members of the Cedar Springs Board of Education came to a halt this week after a spokesperson for the recall team said they no longer felt it necessary to proceed.

Petitions to recall board president Heidi Reed, vice president Matt Shoffner, and treasurer Shannon Vanderhyde were filed this spring, in the aftermath of the resignation of Superintendent Laura VanDuyn.

The reasoning on the petitions for the recall had to do with public comment being limited at a board meeting. Reed apologized the day after the meeting, noting that she had erred in not letting some people speak who had not signed up ahead of time. 

However, there was more behind the recall effort than the one incident. Many of those who had demanded that the former superintendent resign also felt that the board had not been listening to the public or staff over the last few years when they complained about the former superintendent, and wanted to see them recalled. However, since that time, board members have made efforts to be more transparent, and show that they are listening to their constituents. The recent hiring of Superintendent Scott Smith had the public involved at almost every level.

Recall spokesperson Molly Nixon released this statement earlier this week: “Upon evaluation of the recent changes made by the board of education from 6-year to 4-year terms, and upon seeing that the new superintendent contract is not self-renewing, the recall team has decided that it is not necessary to continue with our efforts at this time. We would like to thank all of the citizens who assisted with the circulation of petitions. We ask all citizens to continue to watch closely the actions of elected officials. While we will continue to expect a high level of transparency we thank the board for taking these first steps in the direction of reconciliation. It is a new day indeed.” 

For more information on term lengths and what positions are up for election this fall, click here.

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School board reduces term length; four positions open


By Judy Reed

 If you’ve been thinking about running for a seat on the Cedar Springs Board of Education, you’ll have your chance in November. There will be four positions open—two full terms and two partial terms. None will be longer than four years, since the Board voted on Monday, June 25, to reduce the term served from six years to four years.

A previous board had voted several years ago to change term lengths from four years to six years after the state of Michigan passed a law regarding when elections could be held. They did it to avoid a 4-3 rotation every two years.

Interim Superintendent Mark Dobias had said he felt it might encourage more people to run if they reduced the amount of time to serve. He asked for input from the community on shortening the time frame from four to six years, and told the Post that he received 50-75 emails on it, and no one had voiced opposition. 

The seats up for grabs this fall include Matt McConnon’s seat, which will be a four-year term expiring in 2022; Brook Nichols’ seat, which will also be a four-year-term expiring in 2022; the seat occupied by Jeff Rivard, which expires in 2020; and the seat currently held by Traci Slager, which expires in 2022.

Anyone wishing to run for one of these four trustee positions may either file a petition no later then July 24, 2018, or pay a $100 filing fee by no later than July 24, 2018. You can pick up an election packet at the Kent County Clerk’s office at 300 Monroe Ave., in Grand Rapids, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call them for information at (616) 632-7640.

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Board approves Superintendent contract


 

New Superintendent, Scott Smith

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education approved the contract of their new Superintendent, Scott Smith, at their regular board meeting on Monday, June 25.

“The Board of Education is pleased to culminate months of work, by approving a 3-year contract with Scott Smith as our superintendent, with a unanimous board vote of 7-0,” said Heidi Reed, board president. 

“The entire board is thankful for the support and input from staff, students, parents and community members during this process.”

The board extended an offer of employment to Smith, who is currently an assistant superintendent at Hudsonville Public Schools, after a rigorous day of Smith meeting with eight different focus groups, dinner with the board, and then a second round interview with the board at 7 p.m. June 18. 

Gary Rider, of Michigan Leadership Institute, led the search to replace former superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn, who resigned in March. The board hired interim superintendent Mark Dobias to fill the vacancy until the end of the June.

“We are grateful to Gary Rider, our search consultant; Mark Dobias, our Interim Superintendent; and all of our building leaders and staff who assisted during this time of transition in our district,” noted Reed.

Smith’s contract starts July 1 and will cover the 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21 school years. His salary will be $150,000 for 2018-19. His salary the following years will depend on if he is rated effective or highly effective. If he is rated effective for 2018-19, his salary for the following year will not be less than $153,000. If he is rated highly effective, it will not be less than $154,500. If he is rated effective in 2019-20, his salary the following year will not be less than $156,500. If rated highly effective, it will not be less than $159,500. He also may be eligible for one percent or two percent stipend based on whether he is effective or highly effective.

The district will also help with moving expenses, not to exceed $10,000, if Smith should decide to move into the district, which he has said he would like to do. He and his wife, Sarah, currently live in Hamilton.

Smith will be in the office starting Monday, July 2.

“We are excited to get started with Scott (Smith) and continue the important work of our district, which will benefit our students,” said Reed.

You can download a copy of Scott Smith’s contract below: 

Superintendent Scott Smith Contract – 2018-2021.pdf

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Cedar Springs chooses new superintendent


 

Scott Smith has been selected as the new superintendent

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education voted 7-0 Monday evening, June 18, to extend an offer to Scott Smith to be their new superintendent.

Smith currently serves as an assistant superintendent at Hudsonville Public Schools.

The offer came after a rigorous day of Smith meeting with eight different focus groups, dinner with the board, and then a second round interview with the board at 7 p.m. The news was given to Smith by board president Heidi Reed shortly after 9 p.m. via speakerphone, accompanied by loud applause from the approximately 50 staff and community members present for the interview.

“It is an incredible honor to receive an invitation to join the Cedar Springs team as its Superintendent of Schools,” said Smith. “This opportunity has been on my radar for nearly ten years. Cedar Springs has a rich history as a student-centered and teacher-centered school district nestled within a strong, supportive community. I can’t wait to get started doing this exciting work!”

Community members and staff gave feedback to the board about Smith after the focus groups and after both the first and second round interviews. Several board members noted that the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

 “We had tremendous feedback from staff, students, parents and community members during the process,” remarked Reed. “Scott had overwhelming support and was clearly a great fit for the candidate profile. He is very well prepared to be our next Superintendent and we look forward to having he and his wife Sarah become part of our community. The unanimous decision to offer the job to Mr. Smith is the result of several months of work by the board with support and input from staff, students, parents and community members. We are all excited to get started with Scott on the important work of moving our district forward.”

Contract negotiations will start immediately between the district and Smith, with the board voting that Reed and the lawyers for Cedar Springs lead that effort.

The board opted to forego a site visit, with several members explaining that they had already received a lot of input from members of the Hudsonville community and district. Reed noted that some of the people they had heard from were people that they would talk to during a site visit. Three of the board members—Traci Slager, Matt Shoffner, and Shannon Vanderhyde—all mentioned being open to the possibility of a site visit to add an extra layer of thoroughness to the search process, but were completely ready to move forward without it if the others were also ready to move forward. 

Before the vote, board members mentioned some of the things they liked about Smith, and all agreed that he was a perfect fit to the profile that they had developed with the help of search consultant Gary Rider and the results of the community survey.

Smith has served as Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for the Hudsonville Public Schools for seven years. Prior to this work he served as the Middle School Principal for Hamilton Community Schools for six years, and as a Middle School Science teacher for Holland Public Schools for three years.  Mr. Smith holds a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Earth Science both from Western Michigan University. He currently lives in Hamilton but noted that he will be looking to sell his home and find something in the area.

Cedar Springs is one of seven districts in Kent County who will have new superintendents for this next school year. The others are Caledonia, Comstock Park, East Grand Rapids, Sparta, Thornapple Kellog, and Wyoming.

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Board selects finalist in Superintendent search


Scott Smith

Community forums and second interview set for June 18

The Cedar Springs Board of Education conducted first round interviews Friday evening, June 8, in their search for a new Superintendent, and narrowed their field down to one finalist. Scott Smith, Assistant Superintendent at Hudsonville, will return for a second-round interview.

The board gave high marks to all three candidates who interviewed, but seemed to like Smith’s leadership style, community focus, and experience with a larger district. 

The other two candidates who interviewed were Karl Heidrich, of Stockbridge Community Schools, and John VanLoon, of Ravenna Public Schools.

A second-round interview is scheduled to take place at 7:00 p.m., Monday, June 18. (Please note this date is a change from that listed in the tentative calendar previously released.) The interview will take place in the District Office Board Room, 204 E Muskegon St., Cedar Springs, Mich.  

“The public is strongly encouraged to attend,” said Search Consultant Gary Rider. “Feedback from the audience has already been very valuable to the Board in the selection process.” Rider is the consultant that was selected by the Cedar Springs Board to facilitate the search effort.

Prior to the second round interview in the evening, focus groups will be held during the day on June 18 so that the community, staff, business, and government officials can all meet with Smith and give feedback to the board. There will be two community forums: one at 10 a.m. and one at 4 p.m. Both will be held in the District Office board room. Smith will have dinner with the board at 5:30 p.m., followed by the interview at 7 p.m. in the board room.

Scott Smith has served as Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for the Hudsonville Public Schools for seven years. Prior to this work he served as the Middle School Principal for Hamilton Community Schools for six years, and as a Middle School Science teacher for Holland Public Schools for three years. Smith holds a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Earth Science both from Western Michigan University.

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Board requests feedback from residents on term lengths


By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education would like to hear from residents whether they think six years is too long of a commitment to serve on the board. They began their discussion on Monday evening, July 11, on whether to transition to four-year terms or stay with six.

The board heard a presentation from interim Superintendent Mark Dobias on the issue, who said some people have said six years is too long of a commitment. “I think it’s a good move (to transition to four years). Then they won’t have to be on the board for more than half a decade,” he said.

Treasurer Shannon Vanderhyde explained that when she first came on the board, they did four years at that time. It was because of Michigan law changing regarding when they needed to do elections that they transitioned to six years. Schools used to be able to run elections every year, in either May or November. In February of 2012, the board voted to switch to six-year-terms after the state passed legislation mandating that school elections be held every two years during the general election in November. They made the switch at the time to avoid there being a 4-3 rotation: 4 members up for election, then the other three in two more years. Instead, with a six-year-term, it’s a 2-3-2 rotation.

“That’s why we went to six years, so we wouldn’t have four new members at a time,” she said. “So far it hasn’t been a deterrent.”

Vice President Matt Shoffner said he would be in favor of the switch. “It does seem like a long time. But that’s a good thought—four could go out or come in at a time,” he said.

Currently, the seats held by McConnon and Nichols expire this year, and whoever wins them would serve until 2024 under the current system. Shoffner’s and Vanderhyde’s seats expire in 2020, as does Rivard’s. However, since Rivard was appointed, he has to run in November and be elected to finish out the term. The seats held by Reed and Slager expire in 2022, but Slager must also run in November and be elected to finish out the term. 

If the board switched to four-year terms, there would be three seats up for election in 2020 and the other four seats in 2022. 

Dobias is asking the public to give their input before the June 25 board meeting. “The rationale behind choosing 6-year terms involved providing more stability over a longer period of time as well as the belief that an entire Board would not turn over as quickly.

“However, there is now a feeling that six years is an awfully long time for people to commit to the Board of Education. Also, a shorter term of office could entice more individuals to seek office and ultimately lead to a Board with greater diversity of opinions, which could yield more rich discussion,” he explained.

The board would like to know what residents and staff think before making a decision at the June 25 meeting. You can email your thoughts to mark.dobias@csredhawks.org.

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School board bits


 

By Judy Reed

Board to conduct superintendent candidate interviews Friday

The Cedar Springs Board of Education will conduct the first round of superintendent candidate interviews this Friday, June 8, beginning at 5 p.m.

The board will first approve minutes from the special meeting on May 18, and then hold public comments.

The candidate to be interviewed first will be Karl Heidrich, Superintendent at Stockbridge Community Schools. 

Scott Smith, Asst. Superintendent at Hudsonville Public Schools, will interview at 6:30 p.m.

John B. VanLoon, Superintendent at Ravenna Public Schools, will interview at 8 p.m.

The meeting will be held in the 3rd floor boardroom at the Hilltop Administration building.

School board to consider changing length of office term

The Cedar Springs Board of Education will soon consider whether to shorten the length of time that a board member serves from six to four years. The board will begin the discussion at its regular meeting on Monday, June 11.

According to a news release sent this week from the office of interim Superintendent Mark Dobias, more people might apply to serve if the term was shorter. “The Board deeply appreciates the value of community service and recognizes that becoming a Board Member is one way residents choose to get involved. Diversity of thought, backgrounds and opinions can lead to healthy, productive discussion which is a cornerstone of effective Boards of Education. The Board further understands that a six-year commitment is difficult for many citizens to make and believes that this change could encourage more people to seek a Board seat.”

Board members had previously served four-year terms until the board changed its policy six years ago. In February of 2012, they voted to switch to six-year-terms after the state passed legislation mandating that school elections be held every two years during the general election in November. They made the switch at the time to avoid there being a 4-3 rotation: 4 members up for election, then the other three in two more years. Instead, it was hoped with a six-year-term, it would be more like a 2-2-3 rotation.

While discussion on this topic will begin at the June 11 Board of Education meeting, no decision will be made until the June 25 meeting. The Board is hopeful that community members will express their opinions in the meantime so that the Board can make a well-informed decision.

“We want to hear how the public feels about this matter. We see merit in making this change but would never do so without the opportunity for public discourse,” said Board President Heidi Reed.

The meeting will be held in the 3rd floor boardroom in the Hilltop Administration Building.

 

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