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Tag Archive | "cedar springs public schools"

Regional enhancement millage passes


 

N-VoteBy Judy Reed

School districts in Kent County will get $19.9 million more this year in revenue after voters in Kent County approved a regional enhancement millage for the Kent Intermediate School District in a special election Tuesday, May 2.

According to Kent County’s Election magic report, 16.44 percent of the County’s registered voters turned out to vote. With all 230 precincts reporting, the proposal passed 39,996 yes to 34,193 no.

Most of the precincts in our area of northern Kent County voted against the proposal, with the exception of one precinct in Algoma Township, and two in Courtland Township.

The regional enhancement millage proposal of 0.9 mill ($0.90 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) will last 10 years and cost an average homeowner $6.70 per month. It is expected to bring in $19.9 million for the 20 districts and spread out on a per pupil basis. It will bring Cedar Springs Public Schools $723,000 the first year.

According to the school district, Cedar Springs would use the additional revenue for:

  • Continued expansion of the Early Middle College program and access to other college and career opportunities.
  • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Academics and Behavior.
  • Professional Development for continued best practices in instruction and student support.
  • Enhanced afterschool and summer school learning opportunities.
  • Comprehensive Counseling and Mental Health Programs.
  • Technology Infrastructure and software enhancements.
  • Maintaining or lowering class sizes.
  • Improved assessment tools.
  • Plus, this proposal will expand career training and technical course offerings to give students real life, on-the-job training and a head start on their careers.
  • It will also give students exposure to the world of work and partnerships with business that prepare them for college and careers.

By law, every penny generated from this proposal will be distributed to local school districts to maintain existing programs and improve services offered to students. All spending will go through an independent financial audit every year, with spending disclosed on a public website to ensure transparency and accountability.

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Schools of Choice 2017—2018


 

Cedar Springs Public Schools participates in both the Kent Intermediate School District Schools of Choice Plan and the Section 105c State plan.

Students residing in Kent County may apply for Schools of Choice through the Kent County Schools of Choice Plan April 10 – May 12, 2017.

Students residing outside of Kent County may apply for Schools of Choice through the Schools of Choice 105c Plan April 10 – May 12, 2017.

Contact the Registrar at 616.696.7317 with any questions.

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School board votes to privatize transportation


CSPS-logo-vertical

By Judy Reed

The buses transporting students to school next year will still say Cedar Springs Public Schools; the drivers will still be the same familiar faces; the supervisor and dispatcher will be the same; and the buses will be housed at the same bus garage. What will be different is that the buses will no longer belong to and employees will no longer work for Cedar Springs Public Schools. Ownership will shift to Dean’s Transportation, after the Cedar Springs Board of Education voted 6-1 Monday evening to privatize transportation and to go with Dean’s.

The one lone no vote came from board member Ted Sabinas, who said he had too many concerns. “Once we make that decision there will be no turning back—ever. We will never be able to buy buses again,” he explained.

Last year Excel Consultants did a transportation study and recommended the school district sell some of their old buses and compare what the cost would be to privatize versus keeping it in-house. In the end, they chose Dean’s, after the majority of the bus drivers decided that’s what they wanted to do.

The Cedar Springs 2016/2017 Transportation Budget is $2,943,208, The 2017/2018 Transportation Budget is set at $3,683,314, which includes six new buses and two mechanics instead of just one, because they cannot keep up with the repairs.

The proposed budget from Dean’s will be $1,774,274, without fuel. The school will still be responsible for the fuel ($270,000) and payments to other schools ($1,146,000), for a total of  $3,190,274. That’s a savings of $493,040.

Dean’s will also purchase their bus fleet at blue book value, which causes a one-time infusion into the budget of $638,600. Between the savings and the purchase of the bus fleet, the school would see a financial impact of $1,132,640.

Dean’s will automatically replace nine buses next year that are past their prime.

“Let’s look at the safety of the students,” said board member Patricia Eary. “The average age of a bus is 12-1/2 years old. Our oldest bus is 22 years old. Who drives a 22-year-old bus?” she remarked.

Bus drivers met with administration and with Dean’s before voting on the issue. Sabinas asked driver Becca Fisk, who spoke on behalf of the drivers, if there was more than one vote held. Both she and Supt. VanDuyn said no. Sabinas had tried to attend one of the meetings, but was denied entrance.

“Some of the drivers were uncomfortable about you being at the meeting,” VanDuyn told Sabinas. She noted that his truck was still parked there in the lot, and some of the drivers felt like they were “being stalked.”

Board VP Brooke Nichols then asked that they stick to the agenda.

Fisk explained the procedure they took of voting by paper ballot, and that there were 16 yes votes, 3 no, and 2 undecided. She also knew of a couple people that weren’t at the meeting who said they would be leaving.

One person told the Post she knew of nine drivers that wouldn’t be back.

“”It is not ideal for every transportation employee but rather the great majority; hence their request to privatize. We regret any employee will leave our CSPS if it was not of their choosing,” said VanDuyn, in a letter to parents in the district. “We value every employee and the time they each have served here.”

Dean’s said they will hire the drivers and requested a letter of recommendation from the school district for them. CS drivers will have super seniority, which means that another driver from Dean’s who drives for another district but has more seniority won’t be able to bump them. They will also have the opportunity for more hours with Dean’s.

Cedar Springs transportation has been short staffed for several years, and going with Dean’s will also alleviate that problem. “With our recruiting practices, we have better resources to fill those shortages as soon as possible,” said Kelly Dean, owner of Dean’s Transportation.

Dean’s has transported Cedar Springs special education students for several years, and other area districts use them, including Sparta and Tri County.

The board will vote on the contract with Dean’s Transportation at their next meeting on May 22.

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Don’t forget to vote May 2 on regional enhancement millage


N-Voter-registration-web

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs and the surrounding areas have one thing to vote on in the upcoming May 2 election—a Kent Intermediate School District Regional Enhancement millage. The “Strong schools, strong communities” proposal will ask voters in all 20 KISD public school districts—including Cedar Springs—to consider an enhancement millage proposal of 0.9 mill ($0.90 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for 10 years. If passed, it would start this summer, and cost an average homeowner $6.70 per month. It is expected to bring in $19.9 million for the 20 districts and spread out on a per pupil basis. It would bring Cedar Springs Public Schools $723,000 the first year.

According to the school district, Cedar Springs would use the additional revenue for:

  • Continued expansion of the Early Middle College program and access to other college and career opportunities.
  • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Academics and Behavior.
  • Professional Development for continued best practices in instruction and student support.
  • Enhanced afterschool and summer school learning opportunities.
  • Comprehensive Counseling and Mental Health Programs.
  • Technology Infrastructure and software enhancements.
  • Maintaining or lowering class sizes.
  • Improved assessment tools.

Plus, this proposal will expand career training and technical course offerings to give students real life, on-the-job training and a head start on their careers.

It will also give students exposure to the world of work and partnerships with business that prepare them for college and careers.

By law, every penny generated from this proposal will be distributed to local school districts to maintain existing programs and improve services offered to students. All spending will go through an independent financial audit ever year, with spending disclosed on a public website to ensure transparency and accountability.

Posted in NewsComments (2)

From the Superintendent’s desk


 

Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Dear Cedar Springs Public Schools Family:

On Tuesday, May 2, voters throughout Kent County will consider the Strong Schools, Strong Communities proposal, a 10-year, 0.9 mill increase for a regional enhancement millage that would allow local school districts to strengthen our future workforce and develop and attract strong talent right here in West Michigan.

If approved, the proposal will allow local districts to:

  • Expand career training and technical course offerings that will give students real life, on-the-job training and a head start on their careers.
  • Give students exposure to the world of work and business with partnerships that prepare them for careers.
  • Give students living in poverty a good start, and surround them with the support needed to keep them in school.

By law, if this proposal is approved, every penny generated from this proposal will be distributed to local school districts to maintain existing programs and improve services offered to students.

At Cedar Springs Public Schools this proposal would generate an estimated $723,000 per year.  In alignment with the purposes above, our district will focus on these priorities:

  • Continued expansion of the Early Middle College program and access to other college and career opportunities
  • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Academics and Behavior
  • Professional Development for continued best practices in instruction and student support
  • Enhanced afterschool and summer school learning opportunities
  • Comprehensive Counseling and Mental Health Programs
  • Technology Infrastructure and software enhancements
  • Maintaining or lowering class sizes
  • Improved assessment tools

Please share this information with your friends and family so they are informed about what’s on the ballot Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

Learn more at: strongschoolsstrongcommunities.com

Have a relaxing and enjoyable spring break!

Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Superintendent

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Celebrating 20 Years of First Grade Readers


CSPS-Library-Event

CSPS-Library-night-teachers-CTDonna Clark, Cedar Springs Library

The First Grade Library Card Roundup ended with a Grand Party at the Kent Theatre, to celebrate “March is Reading Month.”  The Cedar Springs Public Library and Kent District Library Branches from Nelson and Spencer Townships each sponsored a free ticket for all first graders from the Cedar Springs Public Schools and Creative Technologies Academy to see “Lego Batman.”   Invitations were for March 6 and 7 at 6pm.   The Kent Theatre offered free popcorn to all first graders with a library card, counting 81 over the two evenings.  Family members, who shared the fun, numbered in at 258.

2017 marked “20 years of celebrating first grade readers”  since the inception of the program in 1997, when Library Board Member, Mike Metzger, put his idea in motion.  As a part of this year’s celebration, Mike, at the request of Cedar Springs Library Director Donna Clark,  sponsored a free book giveaway for all first graders.  Students had the choice between “Pirate’s Treasure,” “The Great Gumshoe,” and “Medieval Quest”, all by Cedar Springs Children’s Author, Amanda Litz.  Amanda and her two teens, Sierra and Jacob, were there both nights to celebrate.  Kent District Youth Librarian from Nelson Township, Sara Magnuson, and Mary Shallman, Youth Paraprofessional from Spencer Township brought several items for first graders to take home, as well.

Cedar Springs first grade teachers Mrs. Doncis, Mrs. Brussow, Mr. Avink, Mrs. Sendler, Mrs. Holtrop, Mrs. Graf, Mrs. Shepard, Mrs. Boggiano, Mrs. Upham, Mrs. Benham, Mrs. Tiffany, and Mrs. Schmidutz, welcomed their students with hugs, while keeping track of attendance for the libraries.

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School board bits


 

Contracts, privatization of transportation

By Judy Reed

Board votes on administrative, other contracts

The Cedar Springs Board of Education found themselves split 4-3 Monday evening, March 13, when voting on contracts for administrators, executive assistants, and administrative assistants.

Dr. Laura VanDuyn, Superintendent of Cedar Springs Public Schools, brought the contracts to the Board that evening. She told them that all the administrators, except one had agreed to the contracts.

Trustee Ted Sabinas said up front that due to the lack of time they had to review, read, and compare the administrator contracts to the previous contracts, and due to the lack of collaboratively working with the administration on the contracts, as had been done in the past, he would be voting no.

VanDuyn assured the board that she and Carrie Duddles, human resources director, had met with the administrators several times, fielded phone calls, and gave them opportunities to ask questions.

A vote was taken on whether to table the administrator contracts, and it was defeated 3-4. Sabinas, Michelle Bayink, and Brooke Nichols all voted to table. A motion was then made to approve the contracts, and it passed 4-3. Shannon Vanderhyde, Heidi Reed, Patricia Eary, and President Matt Shoffner all voted to pass the contracts.

The Board voted 4-3 to table the executive assistant and administrative contracts, because they had not seen them. Sabinas, Bayink, Nichols, and Shoffner all voted to table them. Shoffner said that he voted to table them because the contracts were not in the packet and he wanted to see them. He said he voted to pass the administrator contracts because they did see that information.

The Board then had to vote on a non-renewal of contracts for two employees—high school principal Ron Behrenwald and transportation supervisor Jerry Gavin.

VanDuyn said that Behrenwald was the administrator that did not approve his contract. She explained that he had asked for more time to review it because he had a question about salary. She then explained that in order to meet the requirements of Section 1229 of the Revised School code, and to meet contract language, the board had to give 30 days notice that they were considering non-renewal if there was any delay in signing the contract. The Board would have to give final notice on April 24, so the process needed to start that evening, March 13. According to the law, the administrator would be notified with a letter, which was reportedly dated March 10, and would give the reasons for non-renewal. VanDuyn said Behrenwald could still sign his contract up to April 24.

Nichols questioned the letter. “I feel like if we pass this, it’s a non-renewal,” she said. “I feel like there should be reasons in the letter, with written statements on why we’re doing non-renewal,” she said.

VanDuyn told the board their attorney drafted the resolution and the letter, and that the letter spoke to multiple discussions or opportunities to discuss the contract, and spoke of the delay.

The Post sent a FOIA request for the letter, among other items, but the administration opted not to fulfill the request for another 10 days.

The Board also needed to vote on non-renewal of Gavin’s contract, due to the fact that they are looking at restructuring transportation, and possibly privatizing it. VanDuyn said he would not have the same contract, and they currently haven’t offered him another contract. She said that they can’t give him a definitive yes or no on his job, and that they have had discussions with him. “We will wait and see as we explore privatization,” she said. “He’s well aware.”

VanDuyn noted again that the process of non-renewal needed to start that night to meet the timeline, and that waiting until March 27 would be too late, since they need 30 days and the final vote is April 24.

The Board voted 4-3 to pass the non-renewal of Behrenwald’s and Gavin’s contracts. Sabinas, Bayink and Nichols all voted against it. Shoffner said he only voted to pass them in order to make the needed time line.

Under Section 1229, those getting a non-renewal notice are also allowed a hearing before a majority of the Board. According to Thrun Law Firm: Strict adherence to the Section 1229 timelines is critical, as a school must give the affected administrator notice that the board is “considering” nonrenewal along with a written statement of the reasons for nonrenewal at least 90 days before the affected administrator’s contract expires.

Section 1229 also requires a period of 30 days before the board can make a final determination on whether to nonrenew the affected administrator. During this period, the affected administrator must be given the opportunity to meet with a majority of the board members to discuss the stated reasons for the nonrenewal.

The school board then must make its final determination and give the administrator notice of that decision not later than 60 days before the affected administrator’s contract expires. Under Section 1229, a school may not nonrenew an administrator’s employment contract for a reason that is “arbitrary or capricious.”

Privatization of transportation

Supt. VanDuyn spoke to the Board about the plans to explore privatization of busing. She said the one of the recommendations made by the Excel Consulting Group last year was to get a quote on privatizing busing. They received an informal quote from Dean’s Transportation, and they brought them in to meet with the bus drivers, first in small group, then in a larger group. She noted that they wanted the bus drivers to weigh in on this, and that there would be meetings with them last week. “It’s been a great collaboration process,” VanDuyn told them. She said that she would have information for the Board at the March 27 meeting.

According to the most recently amended budget, the budget for transportation is $2,926,976. And, according to statistics posted on their website from April 2016, they had 41 buses in their fleet.

The Post asked the Superintendent some questions about the possibility of privatization, savings, what would happen to the buses, and other things, but she declined to comment, because the board had not yet seen any information.

SPECIAL MEETING

Please note that there will be a special board meeting on Monday, March 27, and it will start at 5:45 p.m. That is an hour earlier than normal.

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First grade library card celebration


Mike Metzger, who founded the First Grade Library Card drive 20-plus years ago, is shown here with two of the attendees of the March is Reading month celebration at the Kent last week. Courtesy photo.

Mike Metzger, who founded the First Grade Library Card drive 20-plus years ago, is shown here with two of the attendees of the March is Reading month celebration at the Kent last week. Courtesy photo.

The First Grade Library Card Roundup ended with a Grand Party at the Kent Theatre last week to celebrate “March is Reading Month.” The Cedar Springs Public Library and Kent District Library Branches from Nelson and Spencer Townships each sponsored a free ticket for all first graders from the Cedar Springs Public Schools and Creative Technologies Academy to see “Lego Batman.” Invitations were for Monday and Tuesday nights,  6 pm on March 6 and 7. The Kent Theatre offered free popcorn to all first graders with a library card, counting 81 over the two evenings. Family members, who shared the fun, numbered in at 258.

(L to R): Sara Magnuson (Youth librarian at Nelson Township/Sand Lake branch of KDL); Mary Shallman (Youth Paraprofessional at Spencer Township branch of KDL); teen Sierra and her mom, CS author Amanda Litz; CS Librarian Donna Clark; and Mike Metzger, found of the First Grade Library Card roundup. Courtesy photo.

(L to R): Sara Magnuson (Youth librarian at Nelson Township/Sand Lake branch of KDL); Mary Shallman (Youth Paraprofessional at Spencer Township branch of KDL); teen Sierra and her mom, CS author Amanda Litz; CS Librarian Donna Clark; and Mike Metzger, found of the First Grade Library Card roundup. Courtesy photo.

This year marked 20 years of celebrating first grade readers since the inception of the program in 1997, when Library Board Member, Mike Metzger, put his idea in motion.  As a part of this year’s celebration, Mike, at the request of Cedar Springs Library Director Donna Clark, sponsored a free book giveaway for all first graders.  Students had the choice between “Pirate’s Treasure,” “The Great Gumshoe,” and “Medieval Quest,” all by Cedar Springs Children’s Author, Amanda Litz.  Amanda and her two teens, Sierra and Jacob, were on hand both nights to celebrate.  Kent District Youth Librarian from Nelson Township/Sand Lake, Sara Magnuson, and Mary Shallman, Youth Paraprofessional from Spencer Township, brought several items for first graders to take home as well.

First grade teachers Mrs. Doncis, Mrs. Brussow, Mr. Avink, Mrs. Sendler, Mrs. Holtrop, Mrs. Graf, Mrs. Shepard, Mrs. Boggiano, Mrs. Upham, Mrs. Benham, Mrs. Tiffany, and Mrs. Schmidutz all welcomed their students with hugs, while keeping track of attendance for the libraries.

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Board rates Superintendent highly effective 


 

Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn

Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn

Dr. VanDuyn’s contract renewed through 2020

Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn has been rated “highly effective” by the Board of Education for the third year in a row, and they have extended her contract through 2020.

According to a release from current Board of Education President Matthew Shoffner, they met with the Superintendent in closed session on December 12 for her annual evaluation. They used the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) superintendent evaluation tool/rubric, and rated her in areas of performance that include: Governance & Board Relations; Community Relations; Staff Relations; Business & Finance; Instructional Leadership; Student Growth. Board members were trained by the MASB in best practices of evaluating the superintendent.

“Dr. VanDuyn received the highest possible rating of ‘Highly Effective,’ said then-Board President Patricia Eary. “She’s taken on many difficult situations, but has done so with grace, courage, servant leadership and professionalism. She’s a champion for all students and a firm believer in and supporter of our staff. Highly effective does not mean there is not room for growth. We can all improve; therefore, the Board sets goals for the superintendent each year. One such goal moving forward is a focus on the culture and climate of the District.”

Dr. Laura VanDuyn began as Superintendent of Cedar Springs Public Schools in July of 2014. She replaced retiring Superintendent Ron McDermed.

“Since that time there has been notable progress throughout the District,” it says in the Board statement. “At the State of the Schools presentation on January 23, 2017 it was evident once again that the superintendent, administration, teachers and support staff are working hard to provide for the best education for our Cedar Springs students. Accomplishments from all areas of the District were presented. Dr. VanDuyn continually thanked the fine staff, students, parents and community for their collaborative efforts to produce such impressive results.

“Some highlights of the great work this year include:  high-quality professional learning for staff in math instruction, Responsive Classroom, Adaptive Schools and Cognitive Coaching; completion of strategic planning; a high school ‘silver’ rating by US News for two consecutive years as well as being selected by the College Board to be on the AP Honor Roll for the first time this year; high-quality special education professional learning and improved compliance ratings; implementation of new K-5 math curriculum; implementation of a counseling/mental health/crisis plan; the award of two State grants—one for early intervention and one for our first-ever robotics program; the well-deserved ‘lime green’ rating with the state of Michigan—that is a remarkable 2-level improvement in state assessment scores in just 2 years; many advancements in operations and business for effective and efficient practices.”

Newly appointed Board President, Matthew Shoffner, would like to see continued forward progress in the District and said, “Dr. VanDuyn came to CSPS with immense background and knowledge in educational leadership, along with a variety of experiences, which have begun to strengthen and temper us. I am committed to working alongside Dr. VanDuyn to continue to improve our great district. As we move ahead Dr. VanDuyn will gather survey data from all stakeholders to inform her and the Board of Education of the direction we all want to see for our CSPS. We look forward to using that data to continue our growth.”

Per standard practice, the Board also reviewed the Superintendent’s contract at the same time as they did the evaluation. A special board meeting was called for December 15, 2016 for the Board to discuss and vote in open session on the contract. The Board moved to make revisions to the contract that included firming up or adding language to meet the legal requirements, such as the definition/components of Michigan Revised School Code 1249b. One of the components under 1249b says that if the Superintendent has been rated highly effective for three years in a row, the evaluation shall be biennial, as long as the performance remains highly effective.

Additionally, the superintendent was granted three additional vacation days (to make it 28) and two additional sick leave days (to make it 12). “The superintendent contract was extended another year through 2020 as a result of her performance and commitment to our CSPS,” it said in the release.

According to the contract, Dr. VanDuyn’s salary is $152,796 for the 2016-17 year, $155,852 for 2017-18; $158,969.04 for 2018-19; and $162,168.42 for 2019-20. If the Superintendent’s contract is automatically extended for a year through 2020-21 as a result of being highly effective, her salary would be $165,411.78 for that year.

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Process for School Closings/Delay


 

When winter weather comes to Michigan, all school districts should have a process in place to determine whether to hold classes or not on any given day. At Cedar Springs Public Schools, there is such a process.

While the ultimate decision to open/close or delay the start of school lies with the Superintendent’s office, the process itself involves many steps. The process begins shortly after 3:00 a.m. The district’s transportation supervisor goes out and physically drives many of the roads in the district. The supervisor travels on paved roads, gravel roads, secondary roads, hilly roads, and city streets. Special notice is given to areas that have been known to be trouble spots of travel in the past. During this drive, a variety of weather and road conditions can be encountered as the Cedar Springs School district has such varied terrain. Conditions can, and do, change in a very short distance. In addition to the actual traveling being done, temperatures and the checking of weather conditions, weather reports, radar, and forecasts are also being checked. Shortly after 4:00 a.m., the transportation supervisor begins checking with peers in neighboring districts. All of the transportation supervisors have similar information specific to their own districts. The direction of storms and forecasts along with road and traffic conditions are all taken into consideration by the supervisors of the individual districts. The individual supervisors share their recommendations with each other as to what likely will occur within their districts.

After speaking with fellow supervisors, the transportation supervisor then contacts the Superintendent and provides her with his findings. By this time the Superintendent has also monitored weather conditions and spoken with area superintendents. After all of this data has been collected and shared, the Superintendent and Transportation Supervisor mutually can make the decision to open/close or delay the start of school.

The safety of our students and staff is always our highest priority when making these decisions. While a school bus is one of the safest methods of transportation out on the roads, it is always ultimately the parent’s decision as to whether or not to send a child out to school.

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