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Tag Archive | "Cedar Springs Public School"

Winter Break


December 24, 2018 – January 4, 2019; students return to school on January 7, 2019

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Recall drive underway for school board members


 

By Judy Reed

If a current drive to recall three Cedar Springs Public School board members is successful, it could mean that all seven spots on the board would be up for grabs on the November ballot.

Recall language was approved by Kent County for Vice President Matt Shoffner and Treasurer Shannon Vanderhyde on March 26, and for Board President Heidi Reed on April 30. 

The recall language for Shoffner and Vanderhyde reads: “Enacting policy that required a ‘request to comment’ form prior to the meeting to address the board of education during public comments.” 

For Heidi Reed it is: “Enforcing policy that resulted in public comment being limited at a board of education meeting.”

The language refers to an incident that happened at a March 11 board meeting. Some people that wanted to speak were not allowed to because they had not filled out a form at the beginning of the meeting. On Wednesday, March 13, Board President Heidi Reed posted an apology for that. It read: “During our District’s last Board meeting, I did not allow an individual to speak during public comment because they had not signed our required comment form, as has been our consistent practice. Today, after consulting our Board bylaws and legal counsel, I realize that I should have allowed the comment. For this I apologize, and going forward, I will allow.” 

While they do still ask people to fill out the form for contact purposes, they do allow people to speak without filling one out if they desire.

For Cedar Springs resident Molly Nixon, one of the people who had wished to speak at that meeting, it’s about more than a violation of the Open Meetings Act. “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,” she said. (You can read her entire statement in her letter to the editor here.)

The Post asked for a statement on the recall petitions from the board members. Reed sent one on behalf of all three of them: 

“Like many districts throughout the state of Michigan, the School Board has relied upon NEOLA for its policies. Before Heidi joined the board, our policies on public comment were adopted and in place.

“On one occasion, after lengthy public comment period, Heidi disallowed a speaker who failed to follow published board protocol for participating in public comment. When that action was challenged, after contacting our legal counsel, Heidi published an apology on our CSPS website and sent to the Cedar Springs Post and stated that she would not do so in the future.

“It is our position that the recall petition is invalid, because it inaccurately implies that our board has had a practice of disallowing public comment. We think it is clear from the media accounts that multiple individuals have made their voices heard, loud and clear.

“To our knowledge, other than this one isolated occurrence, no member of the public has been denied access to public comment. Our board values input from our community and stakeholders, and subject to time limits, all public comment has been heard and permitted.

“For these reasons, we believe the petition effort is not based on fact. We will continue to serve the Cedar Springs public schools community, with the best interest of our parents, students, and staff uppermost as a guiding principle for future decisions.”

According to Kent County Elections Director Gerrid Uzarski, those circulating petitions need to get 2,356 signatures for each candidate. The number of signatures is based on the number of votes cast for governor in the Cedar Springs School district in the last election. He said that the number of signatures is 25 percent of that number. Signatures expire in 60 days.

Once the number of signatures is met and they are turned into Kent County, they do a preliminary check to make sure the petitions look ok, and then send them to each city/township clerk to verify that the signatures are valid. They have 22 days to return the petitions to Kent County. In order to be on the November ballot, everything must be back by August 3.

It’s at this point that the board members are officially “recalled.” They will then automatically be on the ballot in November, running for their seat again, unless they opt out. And anyone wishing to run against them for one of the seats, must specify which board member’s seat they are running for. The recall elections would be listed as three separate races.

The reason that all 7 board members’ seats could be open is that there are three appointed board members who are just filling in until the end of 2018 and will need to run for their seat if they so choose. Those members are Traci Slager, Matt McConnon, and Jeff Rivard. Brook Nichols, the remaining board member, is selling her house and will most likely leave in July, and then another board member will be appointed to replace her for the remainder of the year, and that person will also have to run for their seat in the fall. While the election is in November, the new members don’t actually take office until January.

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School saves taxpayers $368,000


 

That’s over $3.5 million the last three years

The Cedar Springs Public School district took advantage of a low interest rate and refinanced a portion of their outstanding 2008 refunding bonds, saving taxpayers over $368,000 over the next six years. 

The 2018 refunding bonds were sold in the amount of $6,415,000, at a true interest rate of 2.015 percent with a final maturity in 2024.

In preparing to sell the 2018 Refunding Bonds, the School District, working with their financial advisor, PFM Financial Advisors LLC, requested that S&P Global Ratings, acting through Standard and Poor’s Financial Services LLC (“S&P”) evaluate the School District’s credit quality. S&P assigned the School District the outstanding underlying rating of “A+.” The rating agency cited the School District’s stable enrollment trend, strong reserves and moderate debt in their rationale for rating of the School District at this level.

“I’m so thrilled that for the third year in a row we were able to refund bonds and save the taxpayers of Cedar Springs an additional $368,000 over the next six years!” said Dr. Laura VanDuyn, Superintendent. “When added to the savings of $680,000 in 2017 and $2.5 million from the 2016 refunding, that’s over $3.5 million dollars in total savings for the taxpayers of Cedar Springs.”

The School District’s financing was conducted by the Michigan investment banking office of the brokerage firm, Stifel, the financial advising firm, PFM Financial Advisors LLC and the law firm serving as bond counsel, Thrun Law Firm, P.C.

Jeffrey Zylstra, Managing Director with Stifel stated, “Cedar Springs Public Schools’ Bonds were well received by the bond market. We were able to take advantage of current interest rates that met the goals of the District and resulted in a nice savings that will be passed on to the District’s Taxpayers.”

According to Mike Gresen, with Thrun Law Firm, P.C., the school district currently has six outstanding bonds, and after May, there will only be five left to pay off. He told the Board of Education Monday evening that with interest rates going back up, he didn’t see any other opportunities in the future to refund any of the remaining bonds. “You have reduced what you can for your taxpayers,” he said.

The 2008 refunding bonds were sold for the purpose of refinancing the outstanding 1998 refunding bonds, which they sold for building projects. At the time, they went from a rate of 4.98 percent to 3.74 percent, with a prediction to save taxpayers $2.5 million over 16 years (until 2024). 

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Kids celebrate reading month


Mike Metzger, who started the first library card roundup in 1997, was on hand to help celebrate this year’s event at the Kent Theatre. Here he poses with two Cedar Trails students. Movie-goers wait in line for popcorn at the library card  celebration at the Kent Theatre.

Movie-goers wait in line for popcorn at the library card celebration at the Kent Theatre.

Mike Metzger, who started the first library card roundup in 1997, was on hand to help celebrate this year’s event at the Kent Theatre. Here he poses with two Cedar Trails students.

Mike Metzger, who started the first library card roundup in 1997, was on hand to help celebrate this year’s event at the Kent Theatre. Here he poses with two Cedar Trails students.

It was  19 years ago—in 1997—that Mike Metzger had the idea to get first graders in the Cedar Springs Public School district to sign up for a library card. And every year since, the Cedar Springs Public Library has partnered with Kent District Library to reach out and get the job done.

This year the Cedar Springs Library partnered with both the Nelson/Sand Lake Library and the Spencer Township Library in sending home about 300 letters to the area first graders and in paying a share of the cost to get them in free to a movie at the Kent Theatre as part of the celebration.

Each year the Kent Theatre holds a special movie night on a Monday and Tuesday for the first graders and their families as part of the celebration, and they provide free popcorn to first graders. This year they showed “Norm of the North.” About 268 attended.

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Odyssey of the Mind comes to Cedar View Elementary


Team 1 will tackle the vehicle problem.

Team 1 will tackle the vehicle problem.

Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem solving competition where teams of up to seven students led by coaches tackle an open ended (long erm) problem and a spontaneous question. The long term problem can be anything from creating your own vehicle with a propulsion system the team devises, to a performance with humor, scripts, sets, props and costumes all created, written, and performed by the students!

Odyssey of the Mind offers an amazing opportunity for kids to discover the millions of ways to problem solve, create, invent, reuse and recycle all while working within your team, using team work and team building skills. 

The leaders of the future emerge from Odyssey of the Mind participation and involvement.

Cedar View has two teams this year:

Team 1, coached by Tanja Griffee and Aaron Anderson is tackling the vehicle problem. Team members include: Ethan Griffee -5th grade, Riley Robb-4th grade, Judy Visser-5th grade, Hannah Anderson-5th grade, Ella Buttermore-5th grade and Nate Slager-4th grade.

Team 2 will tackle the performance problem.

Team 2 will tackle the performance problem.

Team 2, coached by Emily Elliot, Michelle Wiles and Abby Briggs, is tackling the performance problem. Team members include: Annalise Elliott-4th grade, Coryn Wiles-4th grade, Ember Briggs-4th grade, Ryan Rypma-4th grade, Devin Jobson- 4th grade, Aiden Lake-5th grade, J.R. Nulph-5th grade.

The competition takes place on February 27 at Greenville Middle School. The public is welcome to attend.

Team 1 is at 10:20 a.m. in the gymnasium, and Team 2 is at 9:00 a.m. in the 300 block of rooms.

For more information visit Odysseyofthemind.com (the national site) or Miodyssey.com (region 2) our local Michigan site.

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What’s Happening on Campus?


 

A calendar of events is located on the Campus Activities Calendar at www.csredhawks.org under Public Notices.

Get up to date information on the events happening on the Cedar Springs Public School Campus.

 

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Residents to vote on sinking fund millage


POTHOLE HEAVEN: Miles of roads on the Cedar Springs School campus are in dire need of repair. The district hopes that voters will pass a sinking fund millage to help pay for the costs.

By Judy Reed

 

When voters in the Cedar Springs Public School district head to the polls on February 28, there will be more choices than whom they want for president. They will also be voting on whether to allow the school to levy 1 mill to create a sinking fund to help renovate and repair school roads, buildings, and other items allowed under the law.

If passed, the owner of a home valued at $100,000 would pay about $50 a year toward the fund over a 10-year period. It’s estimated that the first year would bring in about $521,000.

“It must be used for capital improvements,” said Assistant Superintendent David Cairy. “It cannot be used on supplies or new equipment.” He said they have a 75-page document that is very specific about what the funds can be used for. Cairy said they would look first at what was deteriorating the most.

He said that milling and repaving roads would be a top priority, given the age and the rate at which they are deteriorating. They have been doing small sections at a time and patching where needed, but major work needs to be done. “If we keep putting it off, we’d have to make a larger investment later,” he explained.

Hundreds of vehicles drive over the campus everyday, including buses, school vans, staff, student and parent vehicles. “It’s especially more worn where the buses are grinding over the road four times a day,” noted Cairy.

The cost to mill and repave, do curb and gutter work, and sub-pavement aggregate work is estimated to cost somewhere between $1,000,000 and $1,500,000, which would eat up a big portion of the maintenance budget. The current school budget for maintenance is $2 million.

Second on their priority list is parking expansion at Cedar Trails Elementary, Beach Elementary and the High School, with improved pick up and drop off, which could cost $235,000 to $450,000. Other items on the list put together by a community advisory committee include security modifications, technology infrastructure, and replacement of aged gym floors at Beach and Cedar View.

Cedar Springs, like many in Michigan, has been battling increasing costs and shrinking revenue from the state, forcing millions of dollars in cuts over the last few years. And while it is still early in the state budget process, Cairy estimated that according to the Governor’s plan, they might see $500,000 less in revenue than last year. And that doesn’t take into account increased expenditures.

Cairy noted that the great thing about the sinking fund is that it will be carefully scrutinized and audited, and that every dollar that comes in can be spent on their needs. “It meets our goal of not incurring any debt,” he said.

And what if the millage doesn’t pass? “Things will get reallocated, or we may have to take money out of the fund balance. But we have done cold-patching on the roads as long as we can.”

 

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Community Night to celebrate 25 years


Community Night is April 21 from 6-9 p.m. at Cedar Springs High School

AeroMed is always a big draw at Community Night. Post photo by J. Reed.

It was 25 years ago, in 1986, when the idea for a “Community Dinner” for Cedar Springs Public School, the City of Cedar Springs, and the school district area was born.
According to an article written five years ago by Shirley Hans, a former education booster and school board member, they were looking for some way to involve the community and schools in some experiences that would encourage everyone to work more together for the community as a whole, and share things the students were doing in their classes. “We wanted more parents, businesses, clubs and organizations, and community members to learn more about each other and the good things we were all doing. It could be fun, free, and positive advertising for us all,” she wrote.
Invitations were delivered for the first “Community Dinner,” as it was then called. It was held at the Middle School (now Cedar View) and most of the participants were school booths, area clubs and groups who handed out information, and area restaurants that handed out samples of food. It was fun, but too much work for the restaurants, so modifications were made. After a few years the dinner portion was dropped and it became “Community Night.”
The Community Action Network (CAN) now oversees the event, and it’s now a tradition for many businesses, organizations, churches, and school groups to participate in Community Night, held each April at Cedar Springs High School.
Come celebrate with your friends and neighbors at this year’s Community Night on April 21 from 6-9 p.m. at Cedar Springs High School. There will be fun, prizes and free cake for everyone!

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