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School board hires new superintendent


red hawkBy Judy Reed

Associate Superintendent David Cairy received a standing ovation from 200 staff members, parents, and community members after his final interview Wednesday evening, but he didn’t get the votes from the Board of Education.

Instead, they voted 5-2 to hire Dr. Laura VanDuyne, a candidate from California, who has ties to the area and was looking to move back to Michigan. She has served as Executive Director of the State SELPA, Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority since 2010.

The decision angered and saddened many who were present for the interviews.

Trustees Shannon Vanderhyde and Jeff Gust were the two dissenting votes.

The board had the public fill out feedback forms after the interviews and turn them in, and the board sifted through them during recess. They then took a straw poll to see where they stood.

Vanderhyde said that she was saddened by the direction the board seemed to be moving in. She said that one of the comments on the feedback form stuck with her, that Laura would have a big learning curve. “I don’t want my three kids to have a big learning curve,” she said. “I want them to have the best of the best. With Dave, we can start tomorrow.”

Trustee Todd Hanson said he didn’t think there would be a huge learning curve, noting that staff would still be there doing a great job. “And if not, then maybe they are not as loyal as they say,” he remarked.

The remark brought a big boo from the crowd, and several people walked out.

Vanderhyde questioned why they bothered to get the feedback if they weren’t going to use it.

Trustee Joe Marckini said he must’ve gotten different feedback than Shannon, and that he was out talking to people. And if people didn’t like his decision, they could recall him.

Trustee Patricia Eary thought an outsider would bring a fresh perspective. President Brooke Nichols said she had a gut feeling about Van Duyne the first time she interviewed.

Those who voted for Van Duyne—President Brooke Nichols, Todd Hanson, Patricia Eary, Matt Shoffner, and Joe Marckini—all had good things to say about Cairy, but seemed to feel that Van Duyne had the skills to move the district forward.

Shoffner remarked that he felt the two of them working together—Van Duyne a global thinker and Cairy a detailed thinker—would make a good team.

After the official vote, the silence in the room was deafening. Trustee Shannon VanderHyde dissolved into tears.

Some members approached the board and thanked them for their work, while others left the room or talked quietly among themselves.

A committee will work on contract negotiations with Van Duyne, and then bring that back to the board for approval.

 

 

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Van runs into school bus


A Cedar Springs school bus was hit from behind by another vehicle Monday morning.

According to Assistant Superintendent David Cairy, the bus was stopped on northbound Algoma at 22 Mile, when a van struck the back of the bus and ended up underneath the bumper of the bus.

Cairy said that they notified police, and transportation supervisor Jerry Gavin went out and checked on the students, as well as arranged transportation for them and the rest of the route to get to school. About a dozen elementary students were on the bus at the time. Cairy said there were no injuries.

“We are very pleased with the way the staff handled it,” said Cairy.

The official police report was not available at press time.

 

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Kids head back to school


On the first day of school, Alanna Miller was excited to be in kindergarten at Cedar Trails Elementary.

On the first day of school, Alanna Miller was excited to be in kindergarten at Cedar Trails Elementary.

By Judy Reed

 

School started back up in Cedar Springs this week, and according to Cedar Springs Assistant Superintendent David Cairy, they are off to a great start.

“Talking to parents, staff and students, everyone is excited to be back and looking forward to a great year,” he said.

He noted that with 3,400 kids, there are bound to be a few glitches the first day or two, but that the community and staff work together to make it work.

Some changes this year that parents may notice include new principals at three of the buildings:

Alternative education – Stacy Jeanette, Director of Student Services, took on being principal for New Beginnings. Former principal Dave Schlump retired.

Beach – Ken See, formerly an assistant principal at the high school, is now principal at Beach Elementary. Former principal Jane Hendricksen retired.

Red Hawk Elementary – April Stevens, formerly at the high school, is now principal at Red Hawk Elementary. Anne Kostus has moved to the high school, as director of academic services.

“Anne will help us increase our focus on student achievement at the high school level,” explained Cairy.

Another change parents will notice is that the high school revamped their parking lot over the summer. The loop that is the drop off and pick up has eliminated parking spots, and buses are now picking up and dropping off kids in the bus area only to the west of the school. The parking lot on the other side of the dropoff has also been expanded, and a new access drive installed to relieve traffic congestion. Cairy said that it is working really well.

He said that next summer they will renovate the Cedar Trails parking lot as well. “We’ve grown dramatically in the early childhood center,” noted Cairy. “We have our biggest class ever in kindergarten—350. We have 280 in first grade, and about 260 in second,” he explained. “We are glad that a lot of families are choosing us for education, but this parking lot was not built for that amount of traffic.”

They will be working on plans for the lot throughout the school year.

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