Cedar Springs Public Schools Board President Joe Marckini and trustee Jeff Gust held on to their seats in Tuesday’s election, with challenger Misti Bowser coming in a close third. Gust received 868 votes (41 percent); Marckini received 671 (32 percent); and Bowser received 576 votes (27 percent).
The sinking fund millage for repairs was defeated with 684 NO votes to 629 YES votes—a difference of only 55 votes.
School officials say that they are looking at $2 million in cuts this next year, and that the passage of the millage would have helped keep cuts away from students. Superintendent Ron McDermed said that the vote puts them back at square one. “I think the advisory committee came up with as conservative of a plan as they could,” he said. “The question now is, how do we continue to maintain repairs while facing state cuts? They keep taking more and more away.”
McDermed explained that the board’s thinking in approving the proposal was “do we want to cut things for kids? The answer was no. But we’ll move forward now the best we can, and keep kids in focus as much as we can.”
He said that if the millage had been approved, they were looking at spending $500,000 a year on repairs and maintenance to infrastructure and roads. That money will now have to come out of the general fund. Cedar Springs is unique as school districts go, because they have miles of road through the campus, and don’t sit on a public street.
Noting the low turnout at the polls, McDermed said they need to have a conversation with the community about the proposal to see if this result is what they really wanted. “I’d like to listen to people who were opposed and find out what they have to say. If it looks like this result is definitely what the majority wishes, we’ll abide by what they decide.”
If it looks like the majority of people want the millage, but just didn’t turn out to vote or didn’t understand what they were voting on, or just plain didn’t know about it, there is the possibility it could be brought back to the ballot in November.