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Board of Ed votes on officers


Re-elected trustee, Jeff Gust, being sworn in.

17th Circuit Court Judge Christopher Yates swore in Vice-president Joe Marckini

The Cedar Springs Board of Education started their new school year Monday, July 11, by swearing in the recently elected board members and selecting this year’s officers.

President of the 2011-12 board is Brooke Nichols; Vice-president is Joe Marckini; Secretary is Tim Avery; and Treasurer is Todd Hanson.

17th Circuit Court Judge Christopher Yates swore in Joe Marckini and Jeff Gust, both incumbents who were reelected in May. Marckini, formerly board president, invited him to do the honors.

The board also had further discussion on athletics and the drop in participants. They clarified that athletics supervisor Autumn Mattson did not make the decision on her own about which sports would not receive funding, but that it was made jointly by Mattson, Superintendent Ron McDermed and Assistant Superintendent David Cairy. They also noted that a lot of parents called letting them know they had their support. They said they would be looking into things they could do to bolster participation.

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School board election May 3


Residents in the Cedar Springs Public Schools district will vote on Tuesday, May 3, to fill two board positions and vote on whether to accept a one-mill sinking fund levy to help fund maintenance of school buildings and grounds. The sinking fund would last 10 years, and cost a homeowner with a $100,000 property value $50 per year. It is a pay as you go plan, and there would be no finance charges or interest. School officials say that with proposed cuts in the state budget and increased costs, they are looking at a $2.4 million in cuts, and that without additional funding to support infrastructure, they will be forced to cut programs for kids. For a flyer on the issue, click link: Sinking Fund Flyer.
There are three candidates running for two positions on the Cedar Springs Board of Education. Running are two incumbents—Joe Marckini and Jeff Gust—and newcomer Mistie Bowser.

Joe Marckini

Joe Marckini, a journeyman sheet worker, has lived in the district 15 years. He is currently board president. He has also served as vice-president, treasurer and trustee. He has served as the board’s legislative liaison and a member of the National School Board Association (NSBA) Federal Relation Network (FRN).  He has earned through the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) a level one certification, award of merit, award of distinction, and an advocacy skill specialty award.
“I am seeking another term because I believe in providing all our students with a 21st century educational experience and look forward to working with our community to make this happen,” said Marckini. He noted that Cedar Springs Public Schools is a unique district, one that is collaborative and totally focused on student achievement.
Marckini said there were two major issues facing the district. “One is funding and the other is the new Nationwide Common Core Standards. I will continue to advocate on behalf of our district for full funding of both state and federal mandates. Although I commend our nation’s attention to educational issues (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)), I will continue to advocate the educating of the whole child when it comes to the implementation of the Nationwide Common Core Standards,” he explained.
Marckini said that he is not against sharing services or administrators with other districts to contain costs as long as it did not harm the district. “Our district is currently sharing services with Sparta and Kent ISD to save money. We are also moving forward with our neighboring districts in developing other possible shared services,” he said.

Jeff Gust

Jeff Gust, owner of Gust Construction, has lived in the district 43 years. He has served on the board for 16 months, and has owned or operated his own local business for 20 plus years. He has also coached in the school district for over 12 years.
Gust said he is seeking another term for several reasons. “I have three children who are currently attending CSHS or have graduated from CSHS, my wife is employed at the HS, and I wanted to have a say in the quality of their education and workplace,” he noted.
Gust said the major issue facing the district is funding from the state and federal governments. “We are on a very tight budget and it seems to be getting tighter every year. I think it is our job to ensure that the cuts we make are in the best interest of our students. We have an excellent teaching staff and support staff, along with administrators that all care about our students. We have been working with each of these groups on trying to make the right cuts that are in the students best interest,” he explained.  “We are currently asking for a sinking fund millage to be passed by our community that would be used for repairs to roads and energy upgrades, etc.  If the community sees fit to honor us by passing this bond we would have the duty to be good stewards of the money and spend it as wisely as we can.  I would like to be a part of that process.”
Gust noted that he is not against sharing services or administrators with other districts. “I am all for it if we can save money by doing it and provide the same or better services to our community and students. We would need to do this carefully as to not burn our employees out with the added responsibilities,” he said.

Mistie Bowser

Mistie Bowser has lived in the Cedar Springs district for 10 years. She currently is unemployed, but her previous job was as an account executive in business sales. She said she has at least 10 years of experience in participating on boards or committees. She was on the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Kent County board, with the last 8 years holding the positions of Vice President and President. She also served on the Michigan Public Policy Committee that successfully got the blood alcohol content level of .08 passed, and is currently the spokesperson for this side of the state for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Bowser said she decided to run for the Cedar Springs School Board because she wants to ensure her four children get the best education possible. “I look forward to listening to my friends, neighbors and people in the community and sharing their ideas or opinions with the board so an educated decision can be given,” she said.
Bowser sees budget issues and class sizes as two major issues facing the district. “A couple of issues that I’m seeing is the obvious budget cuts and it seems that our students are the ones paying and I find it disheartening. I’m irritated by the size of classes that my kids are in and I feel that this is hindering our children. We need smaller class sizes,” she noted.
Bowser said she would have to research sharing services and administrators with other districts before giving an opinion.
Voters should vote at the city or township polling place where they usually vote. Polls normally open at 7 a.m. Call your local government agency for more information.

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Voters asked to approve sinking fund levy


When residents in the Cedar Springs Public Schools district go to the polls May 3, they will be asked to approve a one mill sinking fund levy to help fund maintenance and repairs on the school campus.
“There is no extra money in the general fund at this time,” said Board President Joe Marckini. “We’ve been putting things off, that’s why we are asking for a sinking fund.” He explained that with shrinking revenue, they follow board procedures and keep funds spent as close to the students as possible—which means cutting back in other areas, such as maintenance.
But with additional cuts and costs for schools this upcoming school year, they could be facing a $2.4 million deficit. And that could mean cutting education programs that affect kids.
A committee of parents, community members and staff began looking at the needs in October 2010, and brought the recommendation to ask for a sinking fund levy to help fund maintenance and operations early this year.
The levy, which would be for a period of 10 years, would cost a person with a $100,000 property value $50 per year. It saves taxpayers money over a general bond, which runs 30 years, because there are no interest payments or borrowing costs. “It’s not practical to extend a payment for repairs over 30 years when we’ll have to make repairs multiple times during that period,” noted Marckini. “This is a ‘pay as we go,’ which shows the transparency of the board.”
The sinking fund levy can only be used for infrastructure. While they are identifying the true needs in each building, some of the priorities are parking, roads, and student drop offs; safety and security needs; technology and energy upgrades; and replacement of the synthetic turf on the athletic field.
The board says they’ve worked hard to be good financial stewards, increasing their fund balance from 5.7 percent to 14.99 percent, which allows them to make payroll during the summer months without borrowing, before the state payments come in; and decreasing dollars spent on payroll from 85 percent to 75 percent. They said teachers, administrators and support staff have all taken freezes and benefit cuts to help support student needs.
The Board of Education will have a booth at Community Night tonight (Thursday) with information on the sinking fund. To print out a flier, click link: Sinking Fund Flyer

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