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Tag Archive | "Michelle Bayink"

School board fills vacancies


by Judy Reed

Tim Bauer

Traci Slager

The Cedar Springs Board of Education held a special meeting on Tuesday, December 19, to interview applicants for two vacancies left by the resignations of Michelle Bayink and Ted Sabinas at the last regular board meeting Monday, December 11.

The board advertised for applications for the positions in last week’s paper, and the deadline was Monday December 18. The advertisement did not say there would be a special board meeting on December 19, and the Post was not present because we were not notified that a special meeting had been scheduled for the interviews.

The board did video the meeting, although some of it was hard to hear due to quite a bit of background noise and some board members not speaking into the microphone.

The board interviewed 10 candidates for the position, and chose Tim Bauer and Traci Slager to fill the two open seats through the end of this year. Bauer is replacing Bayink, and Slager is replacing Sabinas. 

The board liked the answers provided by both candidates, although Heidi Reed did express some concern that Slager had not been around the board. She did still vote yes, however.

Bauer and Slager can run as candidates in the fall if they would like to for one of four open positions. There will be two six-year positions open with Brooke Nichols and Patricia Eary’s seats coming up for reelection; one four-year seat (for Ted Sabinas’ seat); and one two-year seat for the one vacated by Michelle Bayink.

The two were sworn in at the end of the meeting. The board will hold their reorganizational meeting in January 15 at 6:45 p.m.

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Two resign from CS Board of Ed


 

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education is looking to fill two of its seven seats after two board members resigned at Monday night’s evening.

Michelle Bayink

Michelle Bayink resigned at the beginning of the meeting. She said that her house had sold and that she would be living in Rockford, though her children would still attend Cedar Springs Public Schools. “I love Cedar Springs and really wanted to stay,” she told the Post. “But with everything I encountered, it really wasn’t that hard to leave.”

Bayink has been vocal in her disagreement with some of the decisions of the board and Superintendent Laura VanDuyn. But she told the Post that she really had wanted the board to work together. “When we had that workshop session with MASB, I threw my heart and soul into that,” she said. “I really wanted us to find a way to work things out.”

Bayink publicly thanked VanDuyn for her leadership. “I really wanted to leave on good terms,” she said. 

She was about halfway through a 6-year term.

Ted Sabinas

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Board member Ted Sabinas resigned during the public comment time. 

He also has been vocal about his disagreement with decisions of the board and the Superintendent. “I have served on this board of education for 12 months and had hoped that my 34 years of teaching experiences in Cedar Springs could help guide this district to the high levels of education that it once had 5 or 6 years ago when our district was considered a leader in the county and state. Unfortunately this has not happened. I learned that if it is my idea, concern or issue it is quickly dismissed,” he said.

Sabinas filed a complaint against VanDuyn for bullying earlier this year, after the Superintendent said at a board meeting in April that the bus drivers felt they were being “stalked,” as a reason not to let Sabinas attend a meeting being held with the bus drivers on privatization. Several other people also filed complaints. The board later dismissed the complaints 4-2. 

“No Supt. in public education should have been allowed to lie about one of her employers. Apparently it is OK with most of the members of this board,” said Sabinas, in his resignation statement.

He has also been unhappy with the amount of spending on the “Orange Frog” program—over $100,000—to create a more positive climate at the school. 

“During the past 12 months I have listened to many lies and misleading statements and poor judgment by the Superintendent. Stating that we should spend upwards of $100,000 on training the staff to be happy when many classrooms exceed 30 or more students is poor judgment, and not what is best for kids,” he said.

Sabinas was the top vote getter out of four contestants in a hard fought election in 2016. He and Heidi Reed won the two available seats.

You can read his entire resignation letter here.

The Board of Education will now take applications for the two open seats. Submitting an application does not necessarily mean a person will be interviewed, however. See specifics on page 17. 

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March is Reading Month


Reading Rocks at Cedar Trails

Reading Rocks at Cedar Trails

Reading Rocks at Cedar Trails

Beach Literacy Night was held on March 10 at the Middle School.

Beach Literacy Night was held on March 10 at the Middle School.

March is Reading Month and the PTO provided a special assembly called Reading Rocks. The kids had so much fun singing and dancing and being challenged to read more and more.

What a wonderful group of parent volunteers. The PTO from Cedar Trails has purchased an additional chromebook cart containing 36 mobile chromebooks, mice and headphones. Our students love them. Thank you for caring so much about their education.  Cedar Trails PTO is the best!!!

Board of Education member, Vanderhyde, was a guest reader at Red Hawk during March is Reading Month.

Board of Education member, Shannon Vanderhyde, was a guest reader at Red Hawk during March is Reading Month.

Assistant Superintendent, Jo Spry, was a guest reader during March is Reading Month.

Assistant Superintendent, Jo Spry, was a guest reader during March is Reading Month.

Board of Education member, Bayink, reads to students at Red Hawk during March is Reading Month.

Board of Education member, Michelle Bayink, reads to students at Red Hawk during March is Reading Month.

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A DISTRICT DIVIDED


 

N-Sunshine-logoResidents, teachers want answers from school board; others supportive of changes

By Judy Reed

“Why have four administrators left since Dr. Laura VanDuyn was hired as Superintendent two years ago? Why has the culture at Cedar Springs Public Schools changed?” Those are the questions that many residents and school employees are asking the Cedar Springs Board of Education, while many other residents and school employees say they are supportive of the changes.

The Board of Education heard both kinds of comments from a cross-section of residents and employees at Monday night’s standing-room only board meeting. Overflowing attendance has become the norm recently, as people on both sides of the issue yearn to have their voice heard.

The administrators in question have all resigned: assistant superintendent of teaching and instruction Steve Seward in fall of 2014; Cedar Trails principal Jennifer Harper, early 2015; associate superintendent of finance David Cairy, fall 2015; and most recently, athletic director Autumn Mattson, in February, 2016. Her assistant AD Tyler Wolfe resigned in December.

Of those that resigned, Harper was given a salary per her separation agreement, and was not allowed to talk about why she left. That led some people to speculate she was forced out. The Post talked to Dr. VanDuyn about it at the time, and told us it was an ongoing personnel matter. “We can’t reveal the nature because it is a personnel matter. But I think it’s important to say that it’s not a matter that has to do with criminal conduct or the safety of students.”

Van Duyn said Harper was put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. “We have clearly followed our district’s legal counsel in the matter,” she said.

At Monday evening’s meeting, teacher Sarah Holtrop spoke in support of the superintendent. “I’ve served under five different superintendents and five different principals,” she said. “I don’t feel it’s fair to blame Dr. VanDuyn for the resignations of four administrators. They could have chosen to accept her as superintendent. Personally I have found Dr. VanDuyn to be compassionate and caring.”

Teacher Lisa Schmidt also offered support, noting that change is difficult, and that Dr. VanDuyn is well-liked by many staff members in the district.

Resident Sam Gebhardt also offered his support to the superintendent and the board. “I graduated from here, raised my family here. I like the direction we are going right now. You hear a lot of negative comments, but a lot of people like it, too,” he said.

Former teacher and coach Ted Sabinas, who taught for 34 years and coached for 37, asked the board to look into why so many teachers and administrators are fearful for their jobs if they speak up or question how the district is being run.

Longtime teacher Mary Graf—a 39-year veteran—gave an impassioned speech to the board about her concerns with the changing culture in the district. She said she had heard remarks that the problems they are facing are because people are resistant to change, but she strongly disagreed. Graf noted that she had seen a lot of change over the years and hadn’t always agreed with it, but one thing remained constant, until now. “But through all of these challenges and difficult times, honesty and respect remained between the teachers, the school board, and the superintendent. Never did I experience the finger pointing, dishonesty, and disrespect that is currently permeating our school district. How does this type of culture help our students?” she asked. (Read her entire letter on here).

Teacher Josh Cooper spoke on behalf of the teachers at the High School, and showed support for their administrators, Principals Ron Behrenwald and Anne Kostus, and said they were deeply saddened at the loss of former Dean of Students and Athletic Director Autumn Mattson. He also talked about all the good things happening at the high school.

Resident Lee Mora asked the board when they were going to address Mattson’s appeal to the board for an exit interview. She had asked initially for an exit interview with the board of education, and since that is routinely done with human resources, was told by HR she could have an exit interview with them, but not with the board. She declined and appealed to the board. As of Wednesday, Mattson said she had not received a response from the board.

Mora asked the board why they wouldn’t want to gather all information possible from an administrator who had served there 14 years. Board president Patricia Eary told Mora that their legal counsel had said exit interviews were not to be done by the board, because they have only one employee—the superintendent.  (Read Mora’s letter on here).

Board trustee Michelle Bayink asked if they could possibly discuss some of these issues at the next board workshop, but Eary said she thought the agenda for that workshop was already set. Resident Sue Wolfe told the board she hoped they would discuss some of these concerns.

The Post contacted Board president Patricia Eary this week, and asked her whether the board was planning to address these concerns, whether at the next workshop, or through some other means, such as round table discussion with the board, superintendent, representatives of buildings, and the community. We also asked whether they would be responding to Mattson’s appeal; whether they wanted to know why these people left; and what did they think was the best way to restore unity in the district?

“The board employs one person and that is the superintendent,” said Eary. “The only exit interview the board would conduct would be with our one employee. In regard to the exit interviews for all staff members except for the superintendent, there is no right granted to anyone to have an exit interview in this state. Our school district does offer exit interviews and they are conducted by the Human Resource Department. The offer was made to Mrs. Mattson to have an exit interview with the HR Department.”

Eary offered a general response for the other questions.

“The Board of Education is committed to providing an excellent education for every child in the district. The Board of Education is committed to high expectations for excellence in all we do as a district. We hold ourselves and all others accountable and expect every person to work with integrity in all positions, whether the position be superintendent, teacher, administrator, support staff or coach.

“The Board is listening to the community and is responsive to their concerns and will continue to be in communication with the community in the days and weeks ahead.

“We believe our leadership team shares our commitment to our students and staff. Together we are confident the children and families are going to receive a great education at our district.

“The Board of Education would like to express our deep appreciation for the outstanding and dedicated staff. The teachers, administrators and support staff work very hard to provide a high quality education for our students. They do so during a time when education and expectations to meet high standards is continually changing. We are proud of our staff members.

“Finally, we would like to thank the many volunteers, parents and community members who continue to partner with us to serve the many students of Cedar Springs. We appreciate all who shared with us their concerns, suggestions and affirmations over the last several months.”

See several letters to the editor about this issue here.

Tell us—how do you feel about this? How do you think unity should be restored? Send your letters to the editor to us at news@cedarspringspost.com, and follow the guidelines (including word limit) on our Voices and Views page.

NEXT WEEK: Long range financial outlook—could district be headed into the red?

 

 

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People upset with school decisions


 

By Judy Reed

The third-floor meeting room at the Hilltop Administration building could hardly hold the number of people who turned out for Monday’s Board of Education meeting. Tension was high as people gathered to voice their concerns about problems they feel are happening in the district, and especially to voice their frustration over a letter read at the previous meeting by board president Patricia Eary.

The letter was a statement to a small group of staff members that the board feels are being negative and trying to undermine the work of Superintendent VanDuyn.

Last week the Post ran a letter to the editor from Board treasurer Michelle Bayink, who said she had not seen the letter prior to its being read, nor did she support it. Many community members FOIA’d the letter, as did the Post. The letter they received, was not, however, the whole letter read at the previous meeting.  One part missing that many were upset with was a statement that said, “If you do not think you can work for the current administration, you are free to seek employment elsewhere.”

Board President Eary apologized at the meeting for the problem with the FOIA. She said she had copied her notes and statement, but for some reason, her computer only copied the notes. She made her entire statement available at the meeting.

Both Eary and VanDuyn said that the recommendation for the statement was made at a workshop that was held in September with a representative from the Michigan Association of School Boards. Eary wrote and read the statement.

“I had been hearing from people that other staff was trying to make me look bad—that they were trying to make me look like the devil,” explained VanDuyn. “And the representative said, ‘You need to make a statement, this has to stop.’ That’s why the statement was made.”

She said that teachers said they had heard that they would lose their sick days if they didn’t use them. VanDuyn said she didn’t know where that came from.  “The teachers have a contract that spells out how much they can carry over.” Another problem arose with instructional rounds that they take three times a year at the schools. Teachers were left off the list through a miscommunication, she said, so she canceled the rounds. “There is never a time Laura VanDuyn would not have teachers on an instructional round,” she said. “It goes against what I believe in.”

Some have complained about cognitive coaches being moved back into the classroom. VanDuyn explained that they needed teachers to fill some classrooms to bring down class sizes, and since a consultant is coming in to analyze their finances, they didn’t want to hire anyone yet. So they moved a couple of coaches back into the classroom. Board President Eary said the board supports that.

One of the things that many people are wondering about is why three top administrators have left this year—Steve Seward, Jennifer Harper, and now associate principal David Cairy. Some have accused VanDuyn of pushing out these administrators.

“Change is hard. It’s not uncommon that administrators leave when a new Superintendent comes,” explained VanDuyn. “Dynamics change.” She said she could not comment on why Harper left, it was a personnel issue. But she said she offered to help Seward with keeping his insurance going, and that she’s enjoyed working with Cairy. “I’m absolutely not pushing people out,” she said. “David and I worked well together.”

VanDuyn said it’s a small minority of people causing the negativity. “I know what I walked into. And there are people I haven’t held accountable, because of that environment. I know who some of them are. I just thought over time the people would understand who I am. I will continue to be who I am—honest, with integrity and a passion for education for both students and staff.”

At Monday’s meeting, several people questioned the board about what’s happening in the district, and spoke of not feeling respected by the board. Teacher Brett Burns said that in the past, the district has been about honesty, integrity and respect, and he felt that some of those things are currently missing. “We’ve lost three pillars in the district and we don’t know why. Why are they leaving?” He challenged the board to start thinking about the staff and students and set some of their personal things aside. “We are at a crossroads—a district divided. I don’t know if the board sees that,” he said. He noted that when they try to communicate a problem, they feel they are shut down. “You have to hear us, even if it’s not what you want to hear. I’m willing to make it happen. We need to learn from our mistakes and move on.”

Several of those commenting mourned the fact that Cairy is leaving. The room gave him a standing ovation, to show how much they respected the work he had done here in Cedar Springs.

Board trustee Brooke Nichols was tearful during a statement she read to the audience. “I know this has been a difficult time for many of us lately and I’m sorry for any added stress the board has added,” she said. She went on to say that she supports anyone that wants to try to move the district forward in a positive manner, and noted that everyone on the board does care about the district.

“It’s up to us to support each other,” she continued. It’s so emotionally draining to carry grudges and hard feelings. I am hopeful that there can be a fresh start…We can’t change all that has happened, but we do have a choice in letting that define us or trying to move forward in a positive light.”

Click here to read a letter from one concerned community resident. To see the letter read at the October 12 board meeting, click link below. If you have questions, please email or call Superintendent Laura VanDuyn at 696-1204, or one of your school board members. You can find them at www.csredhawks.org. You may also write a letter to the editor and we will publish them as space allows.

SchoolBoardLetter-Oct12

 

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School Board Recognition Month


CSPS-2015 Board of EdJanuary is School Board Recognition Month  – An opportunity for us to celebrate the great things happening in our schools and the dedicated volunteer school board members that serve the Cedar Springs community.

School board members are regular citizens, like you and me,  that have an extraordinary commitment to the children of our community.

Today, our school board members are entrusted with the important work of shaping the education of our youngest citizens.  They dedicate countless hours to creating the mission, vision and goals that drive our schools.  They are dedicated to creating a school culture where collaboration and continuous learning are valued and displayed throughout our system.  The seven members of the Cedar Springs Board of Education do this by always keeping children as the center of their work and decision making.

Please join me in saluting the men and women who serve as members of the Cedar Springs Board of Education. Take a moment to express your gratitude for this important service to our community.

Brook Nichols-10 Years of Service

Joe Marckini-7 Years of Service

Jeff Gust -4 Years of Service

Matthew Shoffner -4 Years of Service

Shannon Vanderhyde- 4 Years of Service

Patricia Eary -2 Years of Service

Michelle Bayink-First Year of Service

Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.Superintendent, Cedar Springs Public Schools

 

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School board chooses new interim member


Michelle Bayink

Michelle Bayink

Introducing Michelle Bayink

The Cedar Springs Board of Education has chosen Michelle Bayink as the new interim board member to finish out the term of Todd Hanson, who resigned last month, due to moving out of the district. His term is up at the end of December.

Michelle has lived in Cedar Springs for over 27 years, and is a graduate of the Cedar Springs class of 1999. She has been married to Brad for 14 years. They have three wonderful boys Graham, Carter, and Noah, who all attend Cedar Springs Public Schools.

Her education includes Associates Degree from Grand Rapids Community College and a Bachelors Degree in Sales and Marketing from Western Michigan University. Currently she works for Cintas, as a new business Facilities Sales Representative in the West Michigan area.

She wanted to join the School Board because she has always been passionate about education. When she spotted the opening on the school board, she decided she wanted to be a part of it. Michelle’s goal is to help continue the current positive direction with the budget and the high level of education for each and every student.

Michelle’s hobbies include spending time with family and friends. You might be able to catch her snowboarding in the winter and spending time on her boat in the summer. Michelle enjoys watching all sports and Ioves meeting new people.

Michelle is also running on the November ballot for a six-year term.

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