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Tag Archive | "cedar springs public schools"

School hires consultant to oversee business office


With former associate superintendent Dave Cairy moving on to another job, Cedar Springs Public Schools has hired Donald Sovey, CPA, owner of School and Municipal Advisory Services P.C., to oversee the business office and spearhead the search for a new associate superintendent of business.

Sovey was introduced to the Cedar Springs Board of Education last Monday, November 9, at its regular board meeting. Sovey introduced Tom Tebeau, of T2 Professional Business Services, who will help with some of the accounting and budget amendments that will need to be done. His services will be billed at $100 an hour.

Besides hiring Cairy’s replacement, Sovey plans to do a long-term financial outlook; develop a proactive financial leadership team; make sure staff  are properly trained and keep them trained; establish fiscal sustainability goals; install best business practices for finances and operations; and more.

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From the Superintendent’s Desk

Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Dear Cedar Springs Public Schools Families:

There is nothing more rewarding to me than being a servant leader – here to serve students, staff, parents and this great community.  To that end, I am pleased to share that we, the CSPS educators and support staff, focus our work each day on serving our nearly 3500 students.

The very heart and soul of our work and desire to serve is teaching and learning.  Although I am in school buildings all the time, the last 3 weeks provided an extra special time at our schools as we conducted “instructional rounds.”  Our district office administrators collaborate with building administrators, teachers and instructional coaches to visit classrooms and observe excellent teaching and learning.

Instructional rounds are explained by educational researcher Robert J. Marzano as “…the most valuable tools that a school or district can use to enhance teachers’ pedagogical skills and develop a culture of collaboration.”  We, at CSPS, couldn’t agree more!

I can share with certainty that our fine educators value the instructional rounds as we collaborate around focused data collection, dialogue and self-reflection.  That leads our staffs to setting goals for continued student success.

It has been an absolute joy to be in each of the classrooms we visited.  Our teachers teach with clear intention, consistency in standards and solid strategies to engage students.  Our students are actively engaged in learning and collaboration as they demonstrate skills and concepts they are learning.  Teachers and students alike focus on assessment of learning, which is impressive to witness!

In addition to our educators focusing all work on students, there are countless examples of how our support staff truly supports teaching and learning.  The hard work and dedication they demonstrate in their day-to-day work is clear.  What is not as well-known is the compassion and commitment they give behind the scenes to ensure educators and students are supported in their work of teaching and learning.  At CSPS, we appreciate the collaborative spirit of our highly valued educators and support staff.

I’ll say it again and again, it is an honor to serve as your CSPS superintendent.  Please know I maintain an open door to any and all who would like to talk.  A hallmark of my career has been being approachable to all students, staff, parents and community members.  It’s that servant leadership philosophy that I hold dear in all aspects of my life.  Please do call, write or drop by for a visit at any time.  I would love an opportunity to get to know you and learn how I might support your wishes or to answer any questions you may have about any topic, such as instructional rounds!


Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools

Office:  616-696-1204 ext. 1001    Cell: 925-899-3111

Email: laura.vanduyn@csredhawks.org

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2015 Board of Education Meetings


The Cedar Springs Public Schools Board of Education welcomes attendance of the public and school staff at its meetings.

A school board meeting is the only means by which a school board can carry out its legal duties or exercise its legal powers.  As such, the primary purpose of a school board meeting is to transact business.  Secondarily, school board meetings provide opportunities for creative and constructive decision-making by members of the board while attempting to reach consensus on strategic issues.  In addition, school board meetings offer an opportunity for the public and staff to address the Board of Education.

Location:  Hilltop Community Building

Board Room – 3rd Floor @ 6:45 PM

November 9 – regular meeting

November 23  – work session

December 14 – regular meeting

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Associate Superintendent David Cairy lands state-wide job


David Cairy, the associate superintendent at Cedar Springs Public Schools

David Cairy, the associate superintendent at Cedar Springs Public Schools

David Cairy, the associate superintendent at Cedar Springs Public Schools, is leaving his position at Cedar Springs this week to take on a new position as Technology Readiness Infrastructure Grant (TRIG) Project Director. He will oversee the TRIG operations located at, and in partnership with the Michigan Association of Intermediate School District Superintendents, in Lansing. He will also have a home base at the Kent Intermediate School District.

It’s been an absolutely amazing 14 years here,” remarked Cairy. “When I came here, I was looking for a good job. What I found was a home, a place to raise a family, a community of top-notch educators, and a community that strongly cares about the education of their kids.”

Cairy first came to Cedar Springs as principal of Cedar Trails. He was promoted to associate superintendent in 2007, and has led a variety of educational initiatives as well as serving as the district’s chief financial officer. “The first group of kids I started with just graduated,” noted Cairy. “It’s fun to see a group through from start to finish.”

Cairy is well-loved and respected by parents, community and school staff members. At Monday’s board of education meeting, community member Sue Wolfe finished her comments by saying, “In my 62 years of life, I’ve never known a finer man than Dave Cairy.” The jam-packed room of staff and community members erupted in applause, and gave Cairy a standing ovation.

I was humbled,” said Cairy. “For those folks to think I did a good job means a lot. When that group shows up and says thank you—well, that’s something I will never forget.”

Cairy applied for the Superintendent job at Cedar Springs when Ron McDermed retired in 2014, and stayed on to work with the new superintendent, after the board chose Dr. Laura VanDuyn. “I’ve really enjoyed working with him,” said VanDuyn. “He’s such a good guy. He’s been a great colleague to a whole bunch of folks, and we’re going to miss him.”

While Cairy’s new office will be in Lansing, he won’t be moving from the area.

While I won’t be working here anymore, know my thoughts will never be far from the district,” he wrote in a letter to the staff. “The more talented educator in the family will still be here (his wife teaches at Cedar Springs), and our boys will continue to benefit from our wonderful system. Erin and I chose to live here for a lot of great reasons, and my job was only one of them. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover how appreciative I am of the opportunity I have had and the support I have felt from this district.”

A consultant is helping the school district find an interim business director until they can hire a permanent replacement for Cairy.

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What’s happening to our school board?


To the Cedar Springs Community,

I am a concerned parent and community member. At Cedar Springs Public Schools, we prided ourselves on evolving our school district into one of the best in Kent County. The pillars of success that we are known for include Cognitive coaching, Adaptive schools and Professional Learning Communities dedicated to ensuring our teachers and administrators are trained and proficient in delivering and enhancing our children’s learning. Our children’s education was our number one priority. But the state of our district has changed and there are behaviors and patterns that cause concern for our future.

According to the Center for Public education, the school board is supposed to serve their communities in several important ways:

  • First and foremost look out for students.
  • When making decisions about school programs, incorporate their community’s view of what students should know and be able to do.
  • Be accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.
  • Ensure that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent.

It is increasingly apparent that our leadership is acting in their best interests and beliefs vs. the community’s.  Parents, teachers and administrators have brought forward example after example—written and verbally—of concerns, mismanagement and actions not in alignment with the excellence we have achieved and come to expect in Cedar Springs. The board has not demonstrated the behaviors expected of a board:  willingness to listening, understanding the issues fully, and then acting on behalf of our children and community and what is best for their academic success. They have gone to great lengths to defend and protect their direction and new leadership, despite the feedback they are hearing. Discussion at board meetings has been misrepresented in the published minutes; they have sent numerous signals through behavior and words that our concerns don’t matter; there has been no communication on the academic strategy of our district; and they have undervalued our teaching staff. When is enough, enough?

Three of our top performing administrators have left in the last nine months—Steve Seward, Jennifer Harper and now Dave Cairy. Why?

Our focus and resources dedicated to the cognitive coaching discipline have been cut by four positions in the last year, while the data shows the overwhelming impact and value it has given to our teaching staff and student outcomes. Why?

These are just a few of the big questions. We need parents to be aware, ask questions, be informed on what is going on and help to hold the board and our superintendent accountable. Form your own opinions.

We have worked way too hard as a district to come this far and allow it to slip away. Come to the board meetings, be curious and let your voice be heard.

Laura Davis, Algoma Township  

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 PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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School Health Center can now see younger kids


Students ages 5-21 are eligible 

By Judy Reed

A few weeks ago, The Post told readers about Cherry Health opening an office in Cedar Springs Public Schools, after receiving a grant to offer medical care and other services to students ages 10 to 21 and their younger siblings. The catch was that before they could see younger children, their older sibling had to be a patient, according to terms of the grant. Site manager and nurse Kristin Paliwoda called the Post last week to let us know that was no longer the case.

“We can now see children down to age 5 without them having an older sibling as a patient,” she explained.

Paliwoda said they had been petitioning the state about changing the requirement. She said it helped that all the students are on the same campus.

The Cedar Springs School Health Center is located in Red Hawk Elementary. They offer a pediatrician, registered nurse, counselor/social worker, and support staff. They do well-child checks, sports physicals, treat minor illnesses, rashes, vaccinations, and provide assistance with chronic health issues such as asthma, diabetes, etc. They can also do blood draws, urine testing, write prescriptions and phone them in, and make referrals for urgent care if needed.

Their onsite social worker offers individual counseling or family counseling, if that is appropriate.

They will bill a family’s insurance provider, and if they don’t have insurance, the grant will pay for the services. They also offer onsite Medicaid enrollment for the child and family.

Paliwoda said they would also offer vaccinations for kindergarteners in mid-August.

They are open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. year-round, including the summer months. They can be reached at 696-3470.

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New health service for students


N-CherryHealth-logoBy Judy Reed

Parents of middle and high school students at Cedar Springs Public Schools now have a new option to address their kids’ medical needs. Cherry Health received a grant to open a new office at Red Hawk Elementary and now offers services to students ages 10-21 and their siblings. The Cedar Springs School Health Center opened April 13.

According to site manager and nurse Kristina Paliwoda, they offer a pediatrician, registered nurse, counselor/social worker, and support staff. They do well-child checks, sports physicals, treat minor illnesses, rashes, vaccinations, and provide assistance with chronic health issues such as asthma, diabetes, etc. They can also do blood draws, urine testing, write prescriptions and phone them in, and make referrals for urgent care if needed.

Their onsite social worker offers individual counseling or family counseling, if that’s appropriate.

Also offered is onsite Medicaid enrollment for the child and family.

“We provide services regardless of the ability to pay,” explained Paliwoda. “If they have insurance, we will bill it. If not, we will charge it to the grant.”

Students could be referred for things that happen during the school day, or parents can call for appointments. “We are open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and we will be open year-round, even during the summer months,” said Paliwoda.

Grant funding is primarily for the adolescent population. But Paliwoda said that once an adolescent is a patient, their younger siblings could be seen there also. “It’s just part of the grant,” she said.

Paliwoda said that Cedar Springs is the first school outside of Grand Rapids Public Schools to have this service by Cherry Health.

To make an appointment or get more information, call 616-696-3470.

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New superintendent impressed with community pride


Dr. Laura VanDuyne

Dr. Laura VanDuyne

By Judy Reed


It’s now been five months since Dr. Laura VanDuyne, a Detroit, Michigan native, and her family moved from California to take over as Superintendent at Cedar Springs Public Schools. For them, she says, it’s like coming home.

“We love the cold weather, the snow. We longed for that—the seasons, the culture, the friendliness,” she explained. “We’ve been here five months and never looked back. It almost feels like you never left.”

VanDuyne was born in the suburbs of Detroit and graduated from Memphis High School, which is about 60 miles north of Detroit. So the west side of the state is new to her, but not to her husband, who grew up in Jenison, and remembers participating in the Red Flannel Marching Competition and marching in the parade in high school. In fact, she said he had grandparents who owned 40 acres on Myers Lake Road near 14 Mile—Roy and Elizabeth Reynolds.

VanDuyne said she met her husband eight years ago, after getting her doctorate. They had always planned to come back to Michigan; but after they had their two children—Izzy and Vance—she said they started making a concerted effort to get back here—where the grandparents are. “I had checked out the district, and it looked like a location we’d like to be. So when the opening came up, I threw my name in the hat and never expected to get the call, but I did, and here we are! It’s an amazing place,” she said.

After graduating from Memphis High School, VanDuyne went to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she also taught. She then came back to the Midwest and received her masters in education administration from Minnesota State University, and a post-MA in educational leadership from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota. She was also a teacher and principal there. From there she moved to the San Francisco bay area, where she earned her doctorate degree from the University of San Francisco. She was a full-time principal there, and for the last four years, was executive director of the State SELPA, Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority. “That’s similar to an Intermediate School District superintendent,” explained VanDuyne. “I was responsible for overseeing 16 school districts—10,000 students—in regard to special education, such as funding and other things.”

So how does that compare to being Superintendent of a 3,800-student district? “That’s the fun part of being here,” responded VanDuyne. “I always wanted to be a superintendent and I knew I wanted to be back at the local level,” she explained. And she hasn’t been disappointed.

“The board, the staff, the community, the parents are all working towards a better future for our kids. It’s such a close-knit community, and they are so proud. We have great innovative teaching, and the support staff is totally invested. It’s all about the children, and that is energizing for me,” she explained.

She noted that she is also impressed by the level of heartfelt interest by the Board of Education. “It’s all about the kids. I have not seen agendas, and that has left an impression with me. They have had to make some tough decisions.”

While some on the Board of Education thought it might be a large learning curve for her, coming from another state, VanDuyne said that hasn’t been the case. “This is the third state I’ve been an administrator in; making those changes are not difficult. They all have similar tenets, with some nuances in local legislation,” she noted.

VanDuyne said the biggest thing she has focused on is getting to know the teaching and support staff—faces, names, what they teach, etc. She said she likes to meet with every individual and get to know them. “That’s been wonderful; I’ve learned so much,” she remarked. “That’s where I’ve gleaned pride in the community.”

VanDuyne said she is big on input and grassroots information gathering. An example of that was the recent selection of a website vendor. She said they wanted something that would highlight the district, yet be easy to use for parents and staff. They had 30 employees and citizens from all areas of the school system—all people who would use the website—and had them watch four presentations from web vendors. They then selected the vendor, without input from either VanDuyne or Asst. Superintendent David Cairy.

“When you can bring bright minds together that’s powerful. They will do more, they will buy into it,” she explained.

VanDuyne also wants residents to know that her door is always open for them. “I answer my own emails, and take my own calls. I want a personal connection,” she explained. “I value face to face discussion—a handshake. I want to hear your concerns.”

VanDuyne said their family is enjoying being here with friends and family, something they have long looked forward to. And she noted that the community doesn’t need to worry about her going anywhere anytime soon. “I plan to be here a long time, to become an integral part of Cedar Springs and Red Hawk pride.”



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Cedar Springs Schools and GRCC partner to form Middle College program

Dr. Steven Ender of GRCC and Dr. Laura VanDuyn of Cedar Springs Schools.

Dr. Steven Ender of GRCC and Dr. Laura VanDuyn of Cedar Springs Schools.

By Judy Reed


Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn and Grand Rapids Community College President Dr. Steven Ender signed a letter of intent Monday evening to create the Cedar Springs Middle College for fall of 2015.

Under the program, freshman with at least a 2.5 GPA will be able to apply for the program, which would begin in their sophomore year, and provide the opportunity for them to earn both a high school diploma and an associate of arts degree in five years. The student will graduate high school and also earn an associate’s degree, without spending any money towards tuition.

It’s just the third program of its kind in Kent County. GRCC also partners with Wyoming, and Davenport partners with Kenowa Hills High School.

Dr. Steven Ender, president of GRCC

Dr. Steven Ender, president of GRCC

Utilizing dual enrollment/early college status, these students will continue to acquire high school credits toward graduating with a Michigan Merit Curriculum diploma, while also completing requirements toward an associate of arts degree. To do this, students will take fewer classes toward high school completion and more toward their college degree in each subsequent year. Due to the uniqueness of acquiring both certifications, the program would take an additional (fifth) year of high school.

Dr. VanDuyn said she was proud of the district’s students, of whom 72 percent go on to post secondary education, the same as the national average. But she said this program could be a big change for our community, noting that the program has about a 95 percent success rate of those going on to get their four-year degree.

Dr. Ender noted GRCC is celebrating 100 years of post-secondary education, and this is currently a program wave happening in post-secondary education. “It’s a price you can’t beat. You are clearly on the right track. And your students will definitely get a university education,” he assured the Board of Education.

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Indoor Walking

The cold air is settling in, but you don’t have to give up your workout.  Cedar Springs Public Schools supports your effort to stay healthy this season.  Red Hawk Elementary will open their doors to all community members who would like to walk the halls from 4:00-8:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday when school is in session.  If Cedar Springs Public Schools is closed due to inclement weather, holiday or no school scheduled, walking is canceled that day.


Scheduled days closed…

●  November 10 & 12

●  November 26 & November 27

●  December 1

●  Winter Break, Dec 22 – Jan 5

●  Mid-Winter Break, February 16 & 1


For inclement weather school closings, please stay tuned to your local TV Station listings.


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