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Tag Archive | "cedar springs public schools"

New sports turf installed at Red Hawk Stadium


Fall sports have kicked off, and one of the new items greeting athletes, the high school marching band, and fans, is the new sports turf at Red Hawk Stadium.

“We are excited to kick off the 2017-18 school year with a beautiful new Red Hawk Stadium turf,” said Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn. “As our Cedar Springs Public Schools campus is the center point of this great community, it is our honor to shine for all to see our Cedar Springs pride with this new look.”

Replacement of the turf was identified as one of the needs in a 2011 bond issue study for the sinking fund millage. The cost at that time was estimated at $750-850,000. However, Shaw Sports Turf came in with a cost of $406,990.

The turf was replaced this summer, in time for the marching band to hold their annual band camp.

“We are grateful for the research, experience and work our Athletic Director, Mr. John Norton, and our Director of Operations, Mr. Ken Simon did to prepare and oversee this project,” said VanDuyn. “We are also grateful for our Board of Education supporting the purchase and installation of our new turf as well as for our principals, maintenance department, coaches and music directors for their input.”

VanDuyn said she hopes the community will come out to various events to see the new turf, such as at soccer and football games, the CSPS fundraiser walk-a-thon, the Red Flannel Festival Marching Band Invitational and the annual Powder Puff football game.

She also thanked the community for their part in making it happen. “On behalf of our Board of Education, Administration, staff and students, thank you Cedar Springs residents for investing in our schools, by providing for a sinking fund that made this beautiful new stadium turf possible.”

Posted in Featured, News, SportsComments (0)

ROGER G. CAVNER


 

Roger G. Cavner, 80 of Sand Lake, died Sunday, August 6, 2017 at his home. Roger was born May 31, 1937 in Sand Lake, Michigan the son of Emmett and Nina (Tisdel) Cavner. He had worked at Helms Lighted Pictures, Brick & Block Layer, Kelvinator, Cedar Springs Public Schools and was a custodian at Tri-County Schools for 29 years retiring in 2002. He had served as sexton for East Nelson and Punches Cemeteries for many years. He enjoyed working at the West Michigan Whitecaps as an usher from 2002 until now. Surviving are his wife, Joyce (Parker); children, Dawn Seif, Mark (Kim) Cavner, Brian (Susan) Cavner; grandchildren, Jessica (Andrew) Mercer, John Seif, Lauren (Chad) Williams, Brent and fiancee, Katie Esakson, Stephen, Matthew and Aaron; one great-grandson and one on the way; sisters, Kathleen (Leonard) Woodman, Patti (Philip) Starr; mother-in-law, Martha Parker; in-laws, Gerald Parker, Lucinda (Max) Cole, Reta (Charles) McKee; several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, Charles; father-in-law, Wendell Parker; son-in-law, Timothy Seif; grandson, Ryan Doyle; sister-in-law, Beverly Parker; nephew, Kevin Cole. The family greeted friends Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where the memorial service will be held Thursday 11:00 a.m. Pastor Chuck Smith officiating. Interment East Nelson Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Meijer Heart Center.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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Parent files lawsuit against Cedar Springs Public Schools


 

By Judy Reed

The mother of a Cedar Springs graduate filed a lawsuit in Federal Court last week against Cedar Springs Public Schools and several administrators regarding how they allegedly handled an assault that occurred in 2014.

The lawsuit claims that the defendants’ “indifferent response to a student-on-student sexual assault on school premises and subsequent sexual harassment” violated Title IX, which bans sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding, as well as denied the student’s right to equal protection under the fourteenth amendment.

According to the lawsuit, in the fall of 2014, the student had a locker next to another student, simply known in the lawsuit as “JD.” The suit alleges that JD began to slam the door of the lockers into the plaintiff. A school official that witnessed it then allegedly told the plaintiff that JD likely had a “crush” on the plaintiff and was merely flirting. No action was taken to curb the locker-slamming.

The plaintiff then notified an administrator that the incidents were occurring and she wanted JD to stop. The administrator allegedly told the plaintiff that it was “horseplay” and that there was nothing the district could do.

The lawsuit then states that on October 9, 2014, the plaintiff was at her locker, leaning towards the interior when JD slammed the locker door into the plaintiff’s head. He then walked away, laughing. The suit says that the locker door hit her head so hard that she experienced immediate pain and started crying. The girl went to her next class, and the teacher sent her to the office. Officials gave her ice for her head, but did not seek medical attention. An official reviewed video footage, but said it was blurry.

The girl’s mother arrived at school but was not allowed to see the video. She became frustrated with the lack of cooperation from school officials and was escorted from the premises. She then took her daughter to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with acute head trauma, having sustained a concussion. She received a CT scan two days later, and another in January 2015. She was also diagnosed with vestibular dysfunction, including dizziness, fatigue and some memory dysfunction. She also began suffering from headaches.

The plaintiff’s parents said they attempted to contact the Superintendent about their daughter’s safety, but she did not return their calls.

School officials initially said plaintiff could move her locker, but ended up having JD move his. She still saw him throughout the day, however. The parents then filed a complaint with police against JD and he was charged with assault and battery. JD then allegedly began spreading rumors about the plaintiff, and bullying her. Plaintiff reported this to school officials, but the suit says no steps were taken to stop the harassment.

The plaintiff says she still suffers physical pain, as well as emotional and psychological distress.

The Post emailed the Superintendent VanDuyn about the case and the effectiveness of current anti-bullying programs, but she did not respond to our request for comment.

The School did implement several anti-bullying measures the last couple of years, including the OK2Say program, a peer listening group, and partnered with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office to employ a full-time deputy on campus.

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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.

Posted in Cedar Springs Public SchoolsComments (0)

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.

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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

Posted in Cedar Springs Public SchoolsComments (0)

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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