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Tag Archive | "cedar springs public schools"

School board needs to listen to community


Dear Cedar Springs Public Schools Board Members,

There are some deeply disconcerting issues that I and many parents are very concerned about. These are issues that I’m sure you are aware of, but the lack of leadership and reluctance to stand up to do the right thing necessitates the need for me to bring them to your attention publicly.

Over the past 18 months, we have lost four highly acclaimed and accredited administrators. These administrators were well thought of in the community and had given many years of selfless dedication to our children. Their departures were premature and the direct result of intimidation and a hostile work environment. When will this critical drain of vital resources end?

Morale among administrators, teachers, and support staff is at an all-time low. The current culture of “My way or the highway” and lack of institutional support does nothing to foster an innovative, healthy learning experience for our children.

Budget deficits are threatening our children’s quality of education. Blaming the deficit on past administrations, a trick many of our politicians often use, doesn’t explain how the district goes from financially healthy for many years to a sudden deficit. Maybe it has something to do with all the money being spent on lawyers, legal fees, consultants, financial experts, etc. that we never seemed to have needed before.

When will the impassioned pleas of the community make an impact? No credence is given to the phone calls and emails you most assuredly have received. It is difficult to watch you sit indifferent and stone-faced at BOE meetings while the future of our children and district is at stake.

Make no mistake, Board of education members. This school district is at a crucial point. It will take years to rebuild the trust of our leaders, restore a healthy learning culture, and ensure our future financial stability. You can no longer sit passively on the sidelines and watch.

There’s an old saying, “Lead, follow or get out of the way.” The time has passed for you to indulge in the luxury of following.

Sincerely,

Steve C. Harper, Algoma Township

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Thrive program to start in Cedar Springs


 

North Kent Community Services is thrilled to announce a new partnership with Cedar Springs Public Schools. Beginning in February, NKCS will offer its successful Thrive Empowerment Program on the Cedar Springs campus, thanks to a generous offer of classroom space from Superintendent Dr. Laura Van Duyn.

“This is an excellent opportunity to help women with children living in Cedar Springs achieve their livable wage and educational goals,” said NKCS Program Director Chérie Elahl.

NKCS launched the Thrive Empowerment program in September 2014. Since then, several women have obtained or are working toward obtaining their high school diplomas, some are furthering their post-secondary education, and others have found better paying jobs.

“One of our participants described Thrive as a family of women,” said Cherie. “Thrive is an opportunity for the group members to work on their goals without the distraction of everyday life and with the support of other women who are in very similar situations. It’s powerful and beautiful to see what happens when our participants start to believe in themselves.”

The program sessions include financial literacy, connections to resources in Kent County, and time to work on goals in a group environment. One of the favorite classes involves mindfulness for parenting; the participants learn how to parent without anger and have a calmer home environment. Thrive is open to all women with children who live in northern Kent County. There are no income guidelines. “Having participants from different walks of life really enriches the group dynamics as well as the Thrive experience,” explains Chérie.

To learn more about the Thrive Empowerment Program, contact Chérie Elahl at cherie.elahl@nkcs.org or at 616-866-3478 ext. 105. The new cohort will begin in February 2016. Make a New Year’s resolution to reach your goals in this life-changing program. Class sizes are limited so call soon!

 

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Student Assessment Results Released to Cedar Springs Public Schools Families


Results Reflect Transition to MI Higher Standards

Families across Cedar Springs Public Schools this week are beginning to receive their students’ scores on the 2014-15 statewide assessment, known as M-STEP.

We are working to ensure parents and families know scores reflect both a new assessment and a major transition to higher standards.

The next few years will require significant transitions for students, families and educators, as the adjustment to higher standards and the M-STEP continues.

Students are adjusting to the new form of tests.  Expectations are higher, tests are challenging and even the way that tests are taken  – online – is new to some students.  Results from the 2014-2015 school year will set a new baseline for measuring student progress on this challenging test.  These results are important for understanding student learning moving forward.

Across Michigan, districts are facing the same challenges we are.  We know that it is important to set high expectations for our students and all of our teachers are working every day to help our students meet and exceed these expectations.  These kinds of changes – to higher standards and challenging tests – take time.  We appreciate parents being our partners in making sure that our students are getting the tools and support that they need to be successful, in and out of school.

Spring 2015 M-Step aggregate score results from Cedar Springs, Kent County and the State of Michigan are listed below.

Grade 3
  Cedar Springs Kent County State
English Language Arts 54.3% 52.5% 50.1%
Math 62.4% 52.0% 48.8%
Grade 4
  Cedar Springs Kent County State
English Language Arts 33.5% 50.1% 46.6%
Math 36.8% 44.8% 41.4%
Science 10.5% 14.9% 12.4%
Grade 5
  Cedar Springs Kent County State
English Language Arts 44.5% 51.7% 48.7%
Math 43.3% 36.3% 33.4%
Social Studies 17.6% 24.4% 22.2%
Grade 6
  Cedar Springs Kent County State
English Language Arts 47.8% 49.3% 44.7%
Math 40.4% 39.0% 33.3%
Grade 7
  Cedar Springs Kent County State
English Language Arts 65.2% 51.7% 49.1%
Math 60.0% 37.6% 33.3%
Science 36.1% 25.5% 22.7%
Grade 8
  Cedar Springs Kent County State
English Language Arts 59.1% 51.3% 47.6%
Math 31.8% 39.2% 32.2%
Social Studies 39.6% 34.1% 29.7%
High School Grade 11
  Cedar Springs Kent County State
English Language Arts 51.3% 55.6% 49.3%
Math 22.4% 32.9% 28.5%
Science 32.5% 30.4% 29.4%
Social Studies 47.2% 46.8% 43.9%
New Beginnings Grade 11
 Cedar Springs Kent County State
English Language Arts 15.8% 55.6% 49.3%
Math 0.0% 32.9% 28.5%
Science 11.8% 30.4% 29.4%
Social Studies 23.5% 46.8% 43.9%
District Grade 11
  Cedar Springs Kent County State
English Language Arts 48.1% 55.6% 49.3%
Math 20.7% 32.9% 28.5%
Science 30.8% 30.4% 29.4%
Social Studies 45.3% 46.8% 43.9%

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Power outage gives kids a day off


 

A blown fuse in a Consumers Energy tower early Tuesday morning gave kids in Cedar Springs an early Christmas present—a day off of school.

The electricity went off about 7:10 a.m. on Tuesday, December 15. According to Roger Morgenstern, of Consumers Energy, the outage affected about 507 customers, including the Cedar Springs Public Schools campus.

Citing a long-term power outage, the Cedar Springs Public School district cancelled classes for the day, and returned students home on buses.

“At the time, we estimated restoration at about 10:30 a.m., because we were not sure what potential for damage may have been done,” explained Morgenstern.

Power was restored at 8:45 a.m.

“Sometimes it’s an animal or a tree limb that causes the outage. But we didn’t find anything. It was just a fuse that blew, so we put one back in and it restored power,” said Morgenstern.

He said the tower is located in the 14000 block of Myers Lake Ave.

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State of the School District Cedar Springs Public Schools


 

Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Featuring Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn

Please join us to celebrate the fine students, staff, families and community of Cedar Springs Public Schools.  All staff, families and community are encouraged to attend.  Superintendent VanDuyn will provide a report on current and future initiatives of the school district as well as respond to questions from attendees.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Hilltop Community Building
3rd Floor, Board Room
December 10, 2015

6:30pm

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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!

Warmly,

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  


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