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Tag Archive | "superintendent"

Cedar Springs hires four new principals for elementaries


From L to R: Carol Franz (Cedar View); Tricia Shenefield (Beach); Beth Whaley (Cedar Trails); and Miranda Latimer (Red Hawk). Courtesy photo.

Kids returned to school on Tuesday, September 5, and those in kindergarten through fifth grade were welcomed by new principals at each of the four elementary schools.

“Each of the principals come to us with great education and experience and will fit well with our dynamic team of students, families, staff and administration,” said Dr. Laura Vanduyn, Superintendent.

The school supplied the following information on each principal:

Our new Cedar Trails principal is Ms. Beth Whaley. Ms. Whaley comes to us as an experienced principal, most recently at an early childhood and Kindergarten center. Prior to that she served as Early Childhood Director and Specialist at the ISD and district level. She was a GSRP leader and Parents as Teachers assistant and teacher. Ms. Whaley comes to us with awards from both Michigan State and University of Michigan (Summa cum Laude at both as well as Magna cum Laude at MSU in her undergraduate work). Beth holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Michigan School Administrator Certificate.

Our new Beach principal is Ms. Tricia Shenefield. Ms. Shenefield comes to us as an experienced principal for many years in Grand Rapids Public Schools. Prior to that Ms. Shenefield was an assistant principal and a teacher. Ms. Shenefield shared in two interviews that she loves data. She has co-authored curriculum, served as a math teacher leader and implemented PLCs. Tricia and her staff are an accomplished team that had the highest ELA M-STEP proficiency among 13 K-5 schools in GRPS. Ms. Shenefield holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Michigan School Administrator Certificate.

Our new Cedar View principal is Ms. Carol Franz. Ms. Franz comes to us with several years experience as a 5th-8th grade school principal. Prior to that Ms. Franz was a Program Coordinator for 21st Century Programs, MTSS District Coach, Discipline Coordinator and teacher. Ms. Franz has been instrumental in implementing several initiatives such as PBIS, MiBLISI, and Response to Intervention. Ms. Franz has presented at the state level and has received many awards, such as the Make a Difference Award (student nominated) for several consecutive years. Ms. Franz holds a Bachelor’s degree (MSU highest honors), a Master’s degree in teaching, an Education Specialist degree in school administration, and Michigan School Administrator Certificate.

Our new Red Hawk principal is Ms. Miranda Latimer. Miranda is not new to CSPS as she is well known for being an outstanding teacher of our wonderful CSPS 4th and 5th graders for 15 years. However, she is new to Red Hawk and wilI certainly know many 6th graders as she had some of them in class! Ms. Latimer was the “Leader in Training” last year at Beach Elementary School. She was instrumental in working alongside a mentor, Dr. Barb Johnson, (a National Blue Ribbon School principal and a Michigan Top 10 Schools principal) with staff and students to implement the Reading Now Network (RNN). The RNN is a highly sought, research-based Michigan initiative that is effective in improving reading and literacy at the elementary level. Ms. Latimer proved her skills and talents as a leader in training and will now be a building principal. She will apply her many years of experience with the upper elementary level students to our focused and unique 6th-grade site. Ms. Latimer holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s degree in Administration and Leadership, and Michigan School Administrator Certificate.

“Please join me in a warm Cedar Springs welcome to our principals,” said VanDuyn. “I know you’ll enjoy meeting them and working with them this year. I welcome you, in advance, to this school year; it’s going to be another great year!”

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Creative Technologies Academy names new 6-12 principal


Jennifer Colin, new 6-12 principal for CTA.

Creative Technologies Academy, 350 Pine Street, in Cedar Springs, completed a search and announced the appointment of Jennifer Colin as the new principal of grades 6-12 of the Ferris State University-authorized public school academy.

Ms. Colin begins her new position July 26. The opening was created with the departure of Mrs. Carrie Paddock, the principal administrator of curriculum, assessment, and instruction for all grades. Paddock left CTA on July 1 after twelve years as a teacher and administrator to pursue an administrator/instructional coaching position with Choice Schools, a charter school management company. CTA is restructuring the responsibilities of its administrative team with this transition. Dan George remains as Superintendent/School Leader. Former Dean of Students, Autumn Mattson will assume the title and responsibilities of K-5 Principal and Colin will be the 6-12 principal.

Superintendent Dan George believes Colin’s experience in leadership in one of the most successful public school academies in the state makes her well suited for this position. “We are excited to welcome Jennifer to fill the 6-12 principal position,” shared George. “We had four strong finalists for this position. Jennifer comes to us from West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science where she has served for 14 years, most recently as the interim Secondary Principal for the last year. Jennifer received the Power of One Award from WMAES in 2012 as ‘the employee who goes above and beyond her position, is an inspiration to others, reaches out to the community, and is respected by peers, students, and families.’ She brings a broad range of educational experience and knowledge to CTA.” Colin initiated and established a CTE program in cooperation with Davenport University to provide the opportunity for WMAES students to gain college credit and facilitated Advanced Placement courses to that school’s curriculum.

Colin’s credentials include a Bachelor of Psychology from Taylor University, a Master of Social Work from Grand Valley University, a Master of Education in School Counseling from Grand Valley State University, and a Master of Arts in School Principalship from Central Michigan University. She holds a K-12 School Administrator Certificate, a School Counselor License, and a Master’s Social Worker Clinical and Macro License from the State of Michigan. She has also received specialized training in the Future Leaders Institute.

Jennifer had this to say about joining the CTA family: “I believe all children have the potential to achieve success. It is our job as educators to work with students and their families in providing the opportunity and help that they need to learn, grow, and become young people who contribute in making our world a better place. Creative Technologies Academy shares this important mission. I chose CTA because they are passionately committed to investing in the lives of children by offering a whole-person approach to education which values developing the minds, character, and self-concept of its students.”

Ms. Colin is married to William Colin, and they have one son.

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Missing principal and son found dead 


George Heckman

A missing elementary principal and his adult son were found dead in a vehicle in rural Montcalm County on Tuesday, June 20.

According to the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post, their deaths are being investigated as a murder-suicide.

George Heckman, 52, the principal at Pewamo Elementary, part of the Pewamo-Westphalia Community Schools District, was reported missing Monday after missing a 7 p.m. board meeting. The district lies in both Clinton and Ionia Counties, and the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office led the missing person’s investigation.

Heckman and his son, Grant Heckman, 28, were found in a van on a dirt two-track off of Tow Road, near Boyer Road, in Bushnell Township. Michigan State Police East Lansing Crime Lab assisted members of the MSP Lakeview Post with processing the scene.

Police said that preliminary autopsy results revealed that both George and Grant Heckman died of gunshot wounds and evidence indicates that George Heckman’s wound was self-inflicted.

Grant Heckman reportedly had cerebral palsy and was wheelchair-bound.

Besides serving as principal at Pewamo Elementary, George Heckman had also been special education director there, and was vice-president of the board of Austin’s House, located in Westphalia, whose mission it was to “develop and provide secure long-term residential services responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities,” according to the group’s website.

Heckman was also due to become Superintendent of Pewamo-Westphalia Community Schools in 10 days, when the current Superintendent leaves for Allendale Public Schools.

The case is still under investigation.

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From the Superintendent’s desk


 

Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Dear Cedar Springs Public Schools Family:

On Tuesday, May 2, voters throughout Kent County will consider the Strong Schools, Strong Communities proposal, a 10-year, 0.9 mill increase for a regional enhancement millage that would allow local school districts to strengthen our future workforce and develop and attract strong talent right here in West Michigan.

If approved, the proposal will allow local districts to:

  • Expand career training and technical course offerings that will give students real life, on-the-job training and a head start on their careers.
  • Give students exposure to the world of work and business with partnerships that prepare them for careers.
  • Give students living in poverty a good start, and surround them with the support needed to keep them in school.

By law, if this proposal is approved, every penny generated from this proposal will be distributed to local school districts to maintain existing programs and improve services offered to students.

At Cedar Springs Public Schools this proposal would generate an estimated $723,000 per year.  In alignment with the purposes above, our district will focus on these priorities:

  • Continued expansion of the Early Middle College program and access to other college and career opportunities
  • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Academics and Behavior
  • Professional Development for continued best practices in instruction and student support
  • Enhanced afterschool and summer school learning opportunities
  • Comprehensive Counseling and Mental Health Programs
  • Technology Infrastructure and software enhancements
  • Maintaining or lowering class sizes
  • Improved assessment tools

Please share this information with your friends and family so they are informed about what’s on the ballot Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

Learn more at: strongschoolsstrongcommunities.com

Have a relaxing and enjoyable spring break!

Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Superintendent

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School board bits


 

Contracts, privatization of transportation

By Judy Reed

Board votes on administrative, other contracts

The Cedar Springs Board of Education found themselves split 4-3 Monday evening, March 13, when voting on contracts for administrators, executive assistants, and administrative assistants.

Dr. Laura VanDuyn, Superintendent of Cedar Springs Public Schools, brought the contracts to the Board that evening. She told them that all the administrators, except one had agreed to the contracts.

Trustee Ted Sabinas said up front that due to the lack of time they had to review, read, and compare the administrator contracts to the previous contracts, and due to the lack of collaboratively working with the administration on the contracts, as had been done in the past, he would be voting no.

VanDuyn assured the board that she and Carrie Duddles, human resources director, had met with the administrators several times, fielded phone calls, and gave them opportunities to ask questions.

A vote was taken on whether to table the administrator contracts, and it was defeated 3-4. Sabinas, Michelle Bayink, and Brooke Nichols all voted to table. A motion was then made to approve the contracts, and it passed 4-3. Shannon Vanderhyde, Heidi Reed, Patricia Eary, and President Matt Shoffner all voted to pass the contracts.

The Board voted 4-3 to table the executive assistant and administrative contracts, because they had not seen them. Sabinas, Bayink, Nichols, and Shoffner all voted to table them. Shoffner said that he voted to table them because the contracts were not in the packet and he wanted to see them. He said he voted to pass the administrator contracts because they did see that information.

The Board then had to vote on a non-renewal of contracts for two employees—high school principal Ron Behrenwald and transportation supervisor Jerry Gavin.

VanDuyn said that Behrenwald was the administrator that did not approve his contract. She explained that he had asked for more time to review it because he had a question about salary. She then explained that in order to meet the requirements of Section 1229 of the Revised School code, and to meet contract language, the board had to give 30 days notice that they were considering non-renewal if there was any delay in signing the contract. The Board would have to give final notice on April 24, so the process needed to start that evening, March 13. According to the law, the administrator would be notified with a letter, which was reportedly dated March 10, and would give the reasons for non-renewal. VanDuyn said Behrenwald could still sign his contract up to April 24.

Nichols questioned the letter. “I feel like if we pass this, it’s a non-renewal,” she said. “I feel like there should be reasons in the letter, with written statements on why we’re doing non-renewal,” she said.

VanDuyn told the board their attorney drafted the resolution and the letter, and that the letter spoke to multiple discussions or opportunities to discuss the contract, and spoke of the delay.

The Post sent a FOIA request for the letter, among other items, but the administration opted not to fulfill the request for another 10 days.

The Board also needed to vote on non-renewal of Gavin’s contract, due to the fact that they are looking at restructuring transportation, and possibly privatizing it. VanDuyn said he would not have the same contract, and they currently haven’t offered him another contract. She said that they can’t give him a definitive yes or no on his job, and that they have had discussions with him. “We will wait and see as we explore privatization,” she said. “He’s well aware.”

VanDuyn noted again that the process of non-renewal needed to start that night to meet the timeline, and that waiting until March 27 would be too late, since they need 30 days and the final vote is April 24.

The Board voted 4-3 to pass the non-renewal of Behrenwald’s and Gavin’s contracts. Sabinas, Bayink and Nichols all voted against it. Shoffner said he only voted to pass them in order to make the needed time line.

Under Section 1229, those getting a non-renewal notice are also allowed a hearing before a majority of the Board. According to Thrun Law Firm: Strict adherence to the Section 1229 timelines is critical, as a school must give the affected administrator notice that the board is “considering” nonrenewal along with a written statement of the reasons for nonrenewal at least 90 days before the affected administrator’s contract expires.

Section 1229 also requires a period of 30 days before the board can make a final determination on whether to nonrenew the affected administrator. During this period, the affected administrator must be given the opportunity to meet with a majority of the board members to discuss the stated reasons for the nonrenewal.

The school board then must make its final determination and give the administrator notice of that decision not later than 60 days before the affected administrator’s contract expires. Under Section 1229, a school may not nonrenew an administrator’s employment contract for a reason that is “arbitrary or capricious.”

Privatization of transportation

Supt. VanDuyn spoke to the Board about the plans to explore privatization of busing. She said the one of the recommendations made by the Excel Consulting Group last year was to get a quote on privatizing busing. They received an informal quote from Dean’s Transportation, and they brought them in to meet with the bus drivers, first in small group, then in a larger group. She noted that they wanted the bus drivers to weigh in on this, and that there would be meetings with them last week. “It’s been a great collaboration process,” VanDuyn told them. She said that she would have information for the Board at the March 27 meeting.

According to the most recently amended budget, the budget for transportation is $2,926,976. And, according to statistics posted on their website from April 2016, they had 41 buses in their fleet.

The Post asked the Superintendent some questions about the possibility of privatization, savings, what would happen to the buses, and other things, but she declined to comment, because the board had not yet seen any information.

SPECIAL MEETING

Please note that there will be a special board meeting on Monday, March 27, and it will start at 5:45 p.m. That is an hour earlier than normal.

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Board rates Superintendent highly effective 


 

Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn

Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn

Dr. VanDuyn’s contract renewed through 2020

Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn has been rated “highly effective” by the Board of Education for the third year in a row, and they have extended her contract through 2020.

According to a release from current Board of Education President Matthew Shoffner, they met with the Superintendent in closed session on December 12 for her annual evaluation. They used the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) superintendent evaluation tool/rubric, and rated her in areas of performance that include: Governance & Board Relations; Community Relations; Staff Relations; Business & Finance; Instructional Leadership; Student Growth. Board members were trained by the MASB in best practices of evaluating the superintendent.

“Dr. VanDuyn received the highest possible rating of ‘Highly Effective,’ said then-Board President Patricia Eary. “She’s taken on many difficult situations, but has done so with grace, courage, servant leadership and professionalism. She’s a champion for all students and a firm believer in and supporter of our staff. Highly effective does not mean there is not room for growth. We can all improve; therefore, the Board sets goals for the superintendent each year. One such goal moving forward is a focus on the culture and climate of the District.”

Dr. Laura VanDuyn began as Superintendent of Cedar Springs Public Schools in July of 2014. She replaced retiring Superintendent Ron McDermed.

“Since that time there has been notable progress throughout the District,” it says in the Board statement. “At the State of the Schools presentation on January 23, 2017 it was evident once again that the superintendent, administration, teachers and support staff are working hard to provide for the best education for our Cedar Springs students. Accomplishments from all areas of the District were presented. Dr. VanDuyn continually thanked the fine staff, students, parents and community for their collaborative efforts to produce such impressive results.

“Some highlights of the great work this year include:  high-quality professional learning for staff in math instruction, Responsive Classroom, Adaptive Schools and Cognitive Coaching; completion of strategic planning; a high school ‘silver’ rating by US News for two consecutive years as well as being selected by the College Board to be on the AP Honor Roll for the first time this year; high-quality special education professional learning and improved compliance ratings; implementation of new K-5 math curriculum; implementation of a counseling/mental health/crisis plan; the award of two State grants—one for early intervention and one for our first-ever robotics program; the well-deserved ‘lime green’ rating with the state of Michigan—that is a remarkable 2-level improvement in state assessment scores in just 2 years; many advancements in operations and business for effective and efficient practices.”

Newly appointed Board President, Matthew Shoffner, would like to see continued forward progress in the District and said, “Dr. VanDuyn came to CSPS with immense background and knowledge in educational leadership, along with a variety of experiences, which have begun to strengthen and temper us. I am committed to working alongside Dr. VanDuyn to continue to improve our great district. As we move ahead Dr. VanDuyn will gather survey data from all stakeholders to inform her and the Board of Education of the direction we all want to see for our CSPS. We look forward to using that data to continue our growth.”

Per standard practice, the Board also reviewed the Superintendent’s contract at the same time as they did the evaluation. A special board meeting was called for December 15, 2016 for the Board to discuss and vote in open session on the contract. The Board moved to make revisions to the contract that included firming up or adding language to meet the legal requirements, such as the definition/components of Michigan Revised School Code 1249b. One of the components under 1249b says that if the Superintendent has been rated highly effective for three years in a row, the evaluation shall be biennial, as long as the performance remains highly effective.

Additionally, the superintendent was granted three additional vacation days (to make it 28) and two additional sick leave days (to make it 12). “The superintendent contract was extended another year through 2020 as a result of her performance and commitment to our CSPS,” it said in the release.

According to the contract, Dr. VanDuyn’s salary is $152,796 for the 2016-17 year, $155,852 for 2017-18; $158,969.04 for 2018-19; and $162,168.42 for 2019-20. If the Superintendent’s contract is automatically extended for a year through 2020-21 as a result of being highly effective, her salary would be $165,411.78 for that year.

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Exciting School District News: 


Board of Education take Oath of Office at the January 9, 2017 Board meeting.

Board of Education take Oath of Office at the January 9, 2017 Board meeting.

2017 Refunding Bonds

The Cedar Springs Public Schools 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.  To that end, this Board of Education is providing transparency in all they do.  This Board is proud of the impressive forward motion of the school district and a list of many accomplishments by the outstanding staff and students of Cedar Springs.

An example of a recent accomplishment that will serve our district and community well is the 2017 refunding of Bonds.  The Superintendent, Board of Education, Director of Business and Finance, CSPS Accountant, financial advisers to the District, banks and legal counsel are working through a lengthy process to make the bond refunding possible.   A summary of the bond refunding process is illustrated as follows:

December 12, 2016: Board of Education adopted a delegating resolution at a regular board meeting. This authorized the Superintendent to accept and execute a Bond Purchase Agreement with the Underwriter.

January 12, 2017: Due Diligence Conference call with all parties to review POS

January 26, 2017:  Conference call with the rating agency

February 7, 2017: Pricing of bonds (subject to market conditions)

February 8, 2017:  Execution of the bond purchase agreement

February 27 or March 13: Board of Education adopts a “ratification resolution” at a regular board meeting.  This is an additional, but not mandatory step, to add a greater depth of transparency and support to the process.  Signatures from the Superintendent, Board President and Board Secretary are required to adopt the resolution.

March 16, 2017: Bond Closing

This Board of Education and District Leadership Team are excited to be working through this long and involved process to save our taxpayers over 1.1 million dollars over the next several years!

Please see our website www.csredhawks.org where all documents related to the bond refunding will be available for your review.  Please feel free to contact Dr. Laura VanDuyn, Superintendent of Schools, at 696-1204, should you have questions about this exciting news.

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From the superintendent’s desk


Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Happy 2017 – it is going to be a terrific year!  We welcome everyone back to school as we continue our focus on teaching and learning at CSPS.

As we kick off a brand new year, it is an ideal time to learn about the vision, mission, core values and brand promise that was adopted by our Board of Education in December.  The Board of Education embarked on the strategic planning process to update the direction of the District.   The most important part of that process was to gather stakeholder feedback.

To that end, approximately 125 teachers, support staff, administrators, parents, students and community members participated in focus groups to provide input on the future and direction they (and those they represented) would like to see for CSPS.  Additionally, the entire staff of CSPS was asked to provide their input on selecting the core values, which define the way will go about our work.  The engagement and input was impressive and the outcome is just the same.  The following was formally adopted by our dedicated Board of Education and will shape our work as we move forward:

Vision (where we are trying to go):  Cedar Springs Public Schools will prepare all students to be independent thinkers and life-long learners who are confident and engaged in their community and world.

Mission (why we are doing what we’re doing):  Cedar Springs Public Schools is a welcoming, inclusive educational environment where students are challenged to reach their potential, and are prepared for life beyond school.

Core Values (how we are going to go about our work- we’ll do so with):  Integrity, Respect, Compassion, Accountability, Collaboration

Brand Promise (our “trademark”):  Purpose, Potential, Pride

We are excited to keep these tenets of our strategic plan at the forefront of our work with students, staff, families and our community.  On behalf of the Board of Education and our outstanding CSPS collegial team, I thank each and every one of the many people who gave of their time to commit to this important process.  Thank you for your part in continuing to move forward our great Cedar Springs Public Schools.

Warmly, 

Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D., CSPS Superintendent of Schools

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Power outages cause problems at school


 

Falling snow weighed down tree limbs Monday evening, causing them to break and fall on power lines, which led to power outages for several thousand people in Kent County on Sunday evening, December 4, and more problems on Monday morning, December 5, which resulted in students being sent home early from school.

According to Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, Operations director Ken Simon monitored the outage in the area Sunday evening/early Monday morning, and worked with the administration to ensure it was appropriate to hold school.

“There was not a problem at 5:00 a.m. this morning and therefore, school began as usual,” explained VanDuyn. “However, later in the morning, well after school began, power outages began to occur in several buildings. During those outages phones and computers were inoperable at those sites. The boilers at both Cedar View and Red Hawk became an issue as smoke was coming from them.”

Both schools were evacuated and the fire department was called was to investigate the cause of the problem. The students were eventually told to return to class at the direction of the fire department.

“Due to the fact that power issues continued and eventually affected every building, the safest manner in which to proceed was to send students home, as many related issues can arise in the absence of power ﴾i.e., loss of heat and ability to communicate﴿. Consumers Energy was working on the outage and shared an estimate of 4 p.m. for power restoration. We do apologize for the inconvenience.”

“I thank each and every one of you who worked through this today,” wrote VanDuyn in a letter to parents and staff, “including parents who had to return home to receive their children early or who had to pick up their children at an earlier time.”

She also thanked the transportation department for their quick response to come back in the middle of the day to transport students, and thanked the Cedar Springs Fire Department on their quick response for assistance. “We are always so well supported and it is greatly appreciated,” she said.

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From the Superintendent’s desk


Laura VanDuyn

Laura VanDuyn

Dear CSPS Families:

It’s hard to believe that November is here. We are so engaged in what we do as educators and students that the time flies…and YES, we are having fun! Our first 2 months of school have brought many fantastic opportunities for our students and staff. I’d like to update you on progress we continue to make as a progressive district serving our kids with passion and collaboration.

  • Strategic Planning: We are moving right along and look forward to completion of the process soon. This important process is one that a school district takes on every 3-5 years. It enables the Board of Education to establish the vision (where we are going as a district), mission (why we are here doing what we are doing) and core values (how we go about doing our work). This process involved approximately 125 people in feedback groups. Those groups were established by leaders from our teachers, parents, students, community members, support staff and administrators. The Board of Education is now using all the feedback from the constituent groups and will eventually vote on approving the strategic plan that will have 4 goals: academic, environment, 21st century learning, finance. This process has been inclusive and engaging!
  • Our new math curriculum implementation is going very well and rave reviews are coming in from our teachers, students and parents. Our principals are working with our teachers on tight alignment of the new K-5 curriculum with the 6-12 curriculum. This is exciting work for all of us. We are so proud of the process we put in place over the last 2 years to have our teachers work in collaborative groups to select the curriculum.
  • We are excited to know that our work on Responsive Classroom® (RC) is now being talked about in other districts. I’ve received phone calls and emails to talk about the great benefits of RC and the possibility of other districts looking at training for their schools. We are excited to be the first district to bring this to our region! Please read the article about our outstanding teachers and principals implementing RC in the School News Network: http://www.schoolnewsnetwork.org
  • We are proud that our band students and directors are leading the way after coming in 3rd in two recent state band competitions. Our band will perform at Ford Field on Saturday. Thank you all for helping Cedar Springs lead the way…you make us proud!
  • Hat’s off to our business department staff under the leadership of Rosemary Zink, CPA, MBA and CFO! There has been a lot of work in the business department over the last year. We are elated to know that we are moving forward with transparency in reporting, collaboration and inclusion in budgeting and in systems development. Last November 1st we had to employ the services of a consultant to provide an overview of our business services after concerns were raised by a community member throughout the summer and into the fall of 2015. The great news is we were able to get a comprehensive look at our business practices in order to plan forward. Additionally, we were able to keep our business department going until we were able to hire Ms. Zink. Our business department employees are so dedicated to making sure we all have what we need to do our jobs. We are excited about what is ahead and purposely put a financial goal in the strategic plan to keep a sharp focus on all the advancements that are being made in the business department.
  • Anne Kostus and our terrific team of teachers and counselors at the high school continue to rally around Early Middle College. We are one of few districts offering this opportunity to our high school students. We are proud of being on the leading edge of this statewide initiative. This is so important for giving our students an advantage in college readiness. Hat’s off to all who are making this happen for our amazing students!
  • The OK2Say program has now been implemented at Red Hawk and with our current 7th and 8th graders at the middle school. We were honored last April when our Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and his team thought enough of Cedar Springs Public Schools to spend his day with us kicking off the OK2Say program. That dedication to our district, being a leader in the OK2Say initiative, is humbling. We attribute that to Jo Spry, our Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, as she brought the program to Michigan. We love being on the cutting edge of such important work to keep our schools safe.
  • It’s clear by looking around our campus that our maintenance and grounds crew are working hard. In fact, we have data to prove that. Mr. Ken Simon, our new Director of Operations, is tracking data on work orders and setting goals for his department. Thus far his hard-working team has reduced work orders in progress to 8%…and the goal was 10%! We thank Mr. Simon and his team for supporting all we do as a district as their work is foundational to providing a wonderful learning atmosphere for our students.
  • We are proud of the staff we’ve had with us for many years and are proud of the new staff joining us for the first time this year. Last school year we created and continue to develop an excellent Human Resources Department. Leading that is Ms. Carrie Duddles who is doing a stellar job for all staff and for the district. To that end, there are processes that have been put in place that structure hiring and provide streamlining with the technology, payroll and other departments. There is misinformation that 50 or more employees resigned from the district since January, 2016. It can be confusing as there are times when people on the resignation list are those who resign from one position, such as interventionist, who actually earned another position, such as a teacher. Therefore, their names will appear as resignations when in fact, they are still employees of the District. Furthermore, retirements such as the 11 we had last spring along with 2 leaves of absence that were granted appear in the same category as resignations/layoffs. To add to that is the fact that there are some employees who earn what is called a “schedule B” assignment/salary for coaching athletics, etc. Those positions are counted on the resignation list when someone decides they won’t be able to coach anymore. Those may be teachers or support staff employed by CSPS who are only resigning their coaching positions, not their full-time positions … or they may be people who do not work in the district but only coach a sport, etc. As you can see, there is a lot that can make a list appear to be something it is not. The lists contain all support, teaching and administrator positions. Simple lists can be misleading without understanding what all is encompassed in them, but we know as we calculate the numbers of actual resignations that we are well within a general range of what can be expected for any district. It’s always important to gather the facts and we encourage all to seek facts prior to establishing concerns. Thankfully, we are putting these important processes in place to track our hiring, seniority, benefits, payroll, etc. These structures are incredibly important to keeping the District on track in budgeting…we are proud of the work we are doing in this area!
  • It is our honor to have with us, Dr. Barbara Johnson, a National Blue Ribbon School principal, principal of a Top 10 school in the state and a Reading Now Network school. Dr. Johnson is working with our new “Leader in Training” at Beach Elementary School. We are so very fortunate to have Mrs. Miranda Latimer (one of our excellent CSPS teachers who earned a leadership position in the district) as our administrator at Beach Elementary. She is getting the benefit of learning from our outstanding principal team as well as from Dr. Barb Johnson. It is to our benefit to have someone who has been a principal recognized in the state and nation for her terrific contributions in education. Please know that the affordability in this comes from a “Leader in Training” salary that is significantly less than a principal in order to afford the mentor, as agreed upon by the Leader in Training upon accepting the position. Dr. Barb Johnson is being talked about all over Michigan…we are THRILLED to be a district benefiting from her services.
  • NEOLA policy work continues as we are nearing the end of the work to add the Administrative Guidelines to the policies that were adopted this summer. This Board of Education and administration have worked long and hard to do a complete policy overhaul to ensure we are on board with the most state-of-the-art policy that is constantly updated and inclusive of any changed or new legislation. It’s so nice to be a district on the forefront of important reform such as policy as it guides what we do as a district.
  • Our School Resource Officer program is serving our students, staff and families so well. We have seen the countless benefits of the program in such a short time and look forward to continuing to develop the program. We are fortunate to bring this program to CSPS and know that it’s making a difference in our school operations and in our student and staff well being. Thank you, Deputy McCutcheon, for all you are doing to make this innovative program a success!

As we enter into the season for recognizing all we have to be thankful for, know that our staff and Board of Education are thankful that you share your most cherished blessings with us. Thank you for partnering with us to be make a positive impact in your child’s life. We, at CSPS, take very seriously what we do as educators to support your child in developing a successful present and future life. To that end, we hold high expectations and a commitment to accountability for ourselves and for our students. We are thankful that we do this together as we know our purpose is the same…seeing your child reach his/her potential.

It is an honor and privilege to serve as your superintendent. Please contact me at any time, should I be able to support you and your child in educational success.

Warmly,

Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

CSPS Superintendent of Schools

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