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Tag Archive | "Michigan Association of School Boards"

School board members receive awards


Heidi Reed

Shannon Vanderhyde

The Cedar Springs Board of Education recognized two of its board members at its regular meeting on Monday evening, May 14, for awards they received from the Michigan Association of School Boards.

Heidi Reed, President of the Board of Education, received Level 1 Certified Board Member Award Certification. Heidi had to take nine classes, all at the 100 level to receive this award.

Treasurer Shannon Vanderhyde received the Award of Distinction. Shannon has taken all 100 level classes, all classes at the 200 level and 6 at the 300 Level earning her the Award of Distinction.

Congratulations on your awards!

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Sand Lake Elementary receives Excellence award


Students investigating how elevation and pressure affect the flow of water.

 

The STEM class for third, fourth and fifth graders at Sand Lake Elementary, in the Tri County Public Schools District, is one of the five programs in schools across the state selected to receive one of the 2018 Education Excellence awards for their work to create opportunities and help build stronger, brighter futures for their students.

Each school will receive a $2,500 grant from the SET SEG Foundation, in partnership with the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB). 

“It’s an honor for us to recognize these schools and educators, and help support and advance their efforts,” said Lisa Truscott, SET SEG Foundation Executive Director. “Dedicated, passionate teachers and staff in public schools are what help provide opportunities to learn, grow and build brighter, stronger futures for students and our communities and state.” (more below)

According to Sand Lake STEM teacher Polly Bolt, the mission of the STEM class is to provide project-based, authentic learning experiences in which students incorporate science, technology, engineering and math. “ Each year, all of our district’s 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students attend STEM class as a ‘special’ (similar to art, music, and physical education), which runs the full year. Teaching students for all three years they are in our building, I have the opportunity to build on and enhance the students’ learning experiences from previous years,” she explained.

“Through this grant, our STEM program has the opportunity to be proactive in offering our elementary students greater access to computer science in an engaging, social, and interactive way,” said Bolt. “Funds from the Education Excellence grant would allow us to purchase Dash robots and accessories to expand students’ exposure to computer science through coding beyond what they can learn at online site like code.org.”

Other programs/schools that were awarded grants were:

Kent Intermediate School District’s program, MySchool@Kent, a student-centered, teacher-driven school, featuring online instruction with extensive support.

Be True 2 You at Greenville Public Schools, a program that inspires girls to develop and maintain healthy relationships, create a keen sense of self, and recognize the impact they can have on their community.

Ionia Public Schools After-School Panther Learning Club at Twin Rivers Elementary School, focuses on homework completion and reading for students that are falling behind.

 The Bulldogs Bookin’ Bus through Otsego Public Schools encourages students to read over the summer by visiting key neighborhoods in the district, allowing students to check out books twice a week.

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Consultant to CS Board: “You have to start working together”


By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education heard some straight talk last month from the MASB consultant who went over the results of the board’s self-assessment.

Scott Morrell, from the Michigan Association of School Boards, told the Cedar Springs Board of Education that when he looks at them, he sees possibilities. But when he showed his staff the results of the board’s self-assessment, their one word to him was, “Yuck.” He added that it may be one of the worst spreads they’d seen.

Six out of seven of the board members took part in the self-assessment questionnaire. They had to rate themselves from 0-5 (0 meaning don’t know and 5 meaning excellent) in areas of leadership, academic performance/accountablility, board responsibilities, board effectiveness, data-driven decision-making, board-superintendent relations, and community engagement/advocacy. 

They scored lowest in board-superintendent relations, with only an average score of 1.97, which is between unsatisfactory (1) and needs improvement (2). Their second lowest score was in leadership at 2.02. In fact, they scored between (2) needs improvement and (3) satisfactory, in every category.

Morrell told the board he suspected they had trust issues, and that they had lost the respect, responsiveness and professionalism they should have when dealing with each other. “You need to listen to each other,” he told them.

For some time now, various community members and staff have been coming to the board to express their concerns about not being heard, and with the things they see happening.  Morrell had a remedy for that.

“When the board starts functioning better, these community members are going to stop coming. They have better things to do. I’m sorry, but you guys are crazy. You’ve got better things to be doing than this monsoon that’s been going on. But as long as your board is not functioning, you are going to see this…What we have to do is build trust and respect versus setting our hair on fire. When you set your hair on fire, it’s a good show. So here comes the community, “Ok, what are they going to do this time?”

Morrell urged them to make a decision that evening, October 23, that they wanted to improve. “If you don’t make a decision saying we want to improve, you are sending a clear message to the whole organization tomorrow morning that the board doesn’t care. And can you tell me those people aren’t going to talk tomorrow about what the board did tonight?”

Morrell recommended they do a retreat and take the DISC personality profile to learn more about themselves and each other. But there didn’t seem to be a lot of buy in from the board for that. He did also go around and ask each board member one thing they could do to improve. 

The Post also asked board members that question, and received answers from four of the seven members—President Matt Shoffner, Vice President Brook Nichols, and trustees Ted Sabinas and Michelle Bayink.

“My response for improving myself was to seek clarity before board meetings, whether that’s asking the President or Superintendent for clarification on an item or if it’s reaching out to other board members,” said Nichols. “Other board members must have done this as well for Monday’s meeting. Earlier on Monday, Laura sent an e-mail answering multiple questions that board members had on various agenda items so we could all have that information ahead of time, which was very helpful,” she explained.

Michelle Bayink was quite animated during the workshop, asking for ways they could improve and what Morrell’s recommendation might be. “I want to speak up, I want to work together as a board. I’m trying to get solutions,” she said.

Matt Shoffner sent out a general press release stating that the board took a major step toward demonstrating its commitment to governing effectively on behalf of the students and communities it serves by formally adopting the Board of Education Governance Standards at its meeting on November 13, 2017 (click here to read story).

“After working with Mr. Scott Morrell, from the Michigan Association of School Boards during a Cedar Springs Board of Education Self-Evaluation Workshop on October 23rd, 2017, I believe BOE members listened to Mr. Morrell. There is a commitment to be better and do better. To that end the board passed the MASB Board of Education Governance Standards Resolution with a vote of 5 to 1. “   

“We are excited to be among the many school districts in Michigan to adopt the BOE Governance Standards,” said Board President Matt Shoffner. “We believe these Standards are an important tool that will help us with the vital task of governing our district. They will help us raise the bar, live up to expectations as elected officials and better understand our roles as board members.”

Ted Sabinas was the lone member who voted against adopting the Governance Standards. “I don’t agree with everything MASB is trying to communicate,” he explained. “They are pretty generic standards. We struggle with the ones we already have and then to try to add more without a plan on what to do if it’s violated or not followed correctly doesn’t make sense.”

One of the things Morrell told the board was that in certain instances, such as on actions that have to do with vision, the vote should always be 7-0. He also noted that there should be a lot less split votes. But Sabinas doesn’t agree. “I’m not that type of personality that if it’s on the agenda it’s automatically going to pass. I was elected to speak up and point out things that don’t seem correct,” he said.

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Board of Education adopts governance standards


 

The Cedar Springs Board of Education took a major step toward demonstrating its commitment to governing effectively on behalf of the students and communities it serves by formally adopting the Board of Education Governance Standards at its meeting on November 13, 2017. 

 “After working with Mr. Scott Morrell, from the Michigan Association of School Boards during a Cedar Springs Board of Education Self-Evaluation Workshop on October 23, 2017, I believe BOE members listened to Mr. Morrell,” said Board President Matt Shoffner. “There is a commitment to be better and do better. To that end the board, passed the MASB Board of Education Governance Standards Resolution with a vote of 5 to 1.”    

“We are excited to be among the many school districts in Michigan to adopt the BOE Governance Standards,” he added. “We believe these Standards are an important tool that will help us with the vital task of governing our district. They will help us raise the bar, live up to expectations as elected officials and better understand our roles as board members.”

The Board of Education Governance Standards were developed by school board members for school board members through the Michigan Association of School Boards. The Standards provide a shared, research-based framework for effective school board governance. Not only do they define the principles that should affect board decisionmaking, they also identify the specific behaviors of school boards and school board members that contribute to positive outcomes for students. And they do so in simple terms so as to be easily understood by board members and the entire school district community.  

“We believe that locally adopting the Standards not only helps our governance team be more effective, but it sends a strong message that all of us as local school leaders are willing to step up and serve professionally,” said Shoffner. “We have standards for students, teachers and administrators, and now we have Board of Education Governance Standards for our board as well.”

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Another vote for Reed and Marckini


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.

* We only print positive letters about candidates one week prior to the election.

 


 

 

Another vote for Reed and Marckini

Dear Community Members of Cedar Springs,

I am voting for Heidi Reed and Joe Marckini because I believe in healthy change and district advancement. We all want Cedar Springs Public Schools to grow and for our students to succeed. Change is essential for growth.

I am the daughter of David and Heather Wolfe. Both of my parents were born and raised in Cedar Springs and graduated from Cedar Springs Public Schools. I was born and raised in Cedar Springs and also graduated from Cedar Springs Public Schools. I love our district, and am proud to be a lifetime Red Hawk. I want to see our district succeed, and the election of our board members is a key component to that success.

The Michigan Association of School Boards outlines Indicators of Effective Board Members. Heidi Reed and Joe Marckini possess all of the traits valued by the association. They both have decades of experience collaborating with people of all different backgrounds and viewpoints. Our district thirsts for additional board members who are willing and able to work well with others.

Heidi Reed is focused on staff morale and student achievement. She is an advocate for curriculum that supports children of all learning styles and backgrounds. She is an active community member and can be found at nearly all fundraisers and events within our community. Heidi has seen the issues our community faces first hand, and will use her voice to ask questions consistent with the present issues.  She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, and will be a warrior for our school board.

I am excited about the direction our district is heading. I choose to look forward, and think positively about our district’s future. I choose to believe in, and support our leadership. Cedar Springs Public Schools’ students deserve the best.

Please join me in voting to make kids our district’s top priority by voting Heidi Reed and Joe Marckini.

Bayley Wolfe, Nelson Township

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Withdrawing from school board race


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.

Dear Readers,

First, I would like to thank my neighbors and friends for their encouragement and support as I sought to pursue a position on the Cedar Springs Public Schools Board. My mother taught me the value of education. A rural farm girl who sought a degree in Chemistry during World War 2, she was one of few moms with a college degree, in chemistry no less.

It is my firm belief that public education is for all students, not just those with connections. I have, in my career as an educator, become known as an advocate for those students who don’t come with one.

Having five candidates for two positions seems like a great opportunity for voters, however, it can also make it difficult to make an informed choice. After much consideration, I am withdrawing from this race. It was never my intention to run against Joseph Marckini who has done a remarkable job for Cedar Springs’ students. I misunderstood Joe’s intentions when I submitted my petition. Joe is respected widely for his board work. He has spoken at state and federal levels as an advocate for kids. He is in it for the kids, refusing to allow adult controversy to distract from this focus. This is what schools need today in the hostile finance and compliance environment created by legislation. My name will remain on the ballot, but I ask that you choose between the other candidates.

The Michigan Association of School Boards provides information for local school boards that may also guide in the selection of local board members. Their document, “Essential Attributes of Effective School Board Member,” states that every deliberation, decision and action must reflect the best interests of every student. Board members represent the entire community, not a single constituency or special interest. Listening to understand divergent opinions is important and board members must focus on how the district impacts students to influence the larger world.

Please consider these essential attributes in your selection of School Board candidates. Most importantly, be sure to vote November 8.

Sincerely, 

Rita M. Reimbold 

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Board urged to seek out the truth


 

A letter read to the Cedar Springs School Board on March 14 during the second public comment section of the meeting. 

Thank you, Mrs. Bayink, for “Speaking” and requesting the board discuss several issues at hand during the next board meeting. I believe I saw a head-nod of support to Mrs. Bayink’s request from Mr. Shoffner. Thank you both for being a voice of acknowledgment.

The Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) specifically notes under their publication titled “Characteristics of an  Effective Board Member” that they show “the willingness to express one’s own opinion and participate in discussions openly and honestly while encouraging and respecting the free expression of opinion by colleagues. “

Under the MASB’s publication titled School Board Members Job Description, the header and two of the six items read, “In addition to duties enumerated in the Michigan School Code, good governance imposes the following responsibilities on the board: 2. The board connects with the community; 6. The board takes responsibility for itself.

The educators and community members who are happy with the current procedures, decisions, and trends are certainly entitled to their opinions and should be treated respectfully. But don’t those that have questions and concerns also deserve to be equally heard, considered, and respected?

Mr. Sabinas read a section of the MASB “Your Local School Board” under “How do School Boards Make Decisions.” It reads, “When making decisions, school boards seek the advice and counsel of the district’s administrators, teachers and other employees, as well as input from the community and specialists with knowledge about the topic under consideration.”

Are you willing to follow the MASB’s recommendations?

How is your current strategy of “no response” working?

Do you feel you have provided more transparency and gained a level of trust over the last few months?

What does the continued increase in attendance (standing room only) at board meetings mean to you?

Do you trust, believe, and value the educators who you have known and have served our district for 10, 20, and 30 years when they tell you they are concerned?

While the projected deficit budget presented tonight looks bad…have you considered what it might look like with a significant exit of students from our district next year?

Please allow yourselves to opening and honestly discuss the questions and issues brought before you at the next workshop meeting.

Please follow the MASB’s recommended practices of seeking out the truth.

I believe the Open Meetings Act and School Policies do give you the right and I hope you believe there is a need to discuss the issues before you and most importantly look for collaborative solutions. Thank you very much.

Susan Wolfe, CSPS District 

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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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