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Tag Archive | "Ted Sabinas"

Staff and others share reasons for wanting Superintendent to resign


By Judy Reed

Over 500 people filled the meeting room and foyer of Solon Township Hall Thursday evening to hear the personal stories of both current and former staff and board members of Cedar Springs Public Schools and how they have been affected by the policies of Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn.

Several of the speakers were in tears as they told their stories in public for the first time, despite fears of retaliation.

VanDuyn was hired to be Superintendent four years ago, but a movement within the community to get her to resign or for the board to give her a vote of no confidence has been steadily growing. An online petition has garnered just under 1,900 signatures, and paper petitions with signatures will be presented at the next Board of Education meeting on March 26.

Mary Graf, an elementary teacher for 41 years, said she has worked for seven superintendents and several principals over the years. She said there would always be change, but also there has always been mutual respect and collaboration with the administration. She remarked that now there is no collaboration, and that teachers now feel repercussions if they don’t completely agree with something or question anything. She said that happened to her last spring during a PLC on reading. There was a lot of tension in the room, and she said she tried to clarify how the teachers were feeling. The next week she received a letter from her administrator saying she had been unprofessional. Graf said her administrator had not even been in the meeting. When she met with him about it, he told her he was forced to write the letter.

Jan Wallace

Former board member Jan Wallace spoke about consultants, noting that the district had spent $300,000 over 15 months. “Do you wonder why our district has to consult outside experts so often?” she asked. Wallace added that $115,000 of that was spent on the Orange Frog program, “which teaches the staff to learn to be happier.” She felt they could have used that money on the deteriorating roads on campus. 

Wallace explained that when she was on the board, they looked at privatizing busing, and met with the staff to talk about it. “This board didn’t do that. They had a consultant come in to help,” she said.

Former board member Ted Sabinas talked about being locked out of the meeting on privatization of transportation; the fact that once he was on the board, staff and administrators told him they were not allowed to talk to him; and that all three elementary principals, two assistant principals, and the athletic director had all left in the last three years. He also noted that the Superintendent received a 3 percent raise while the staff did not receive a raise.

Joan Boverhof

Long time teacher Joan Boverhof spoke about the relationship between the teachers and administration eroding. She said that the board, administration and teachers union used to work together as a team but that was not happening now.

Teacher Brett Burns, who also president of the teachers union, said the union has been trying to repair the relationship with the board but they aren’t listening. He likened it to a child coming to him and saying he was being bullied and him ignoring it, and then the same thing happening again, and him not doing anything about it. “I am begging,” he said. “We are hurting. When are you, the community, and the board going to acknowledge that we are human?”

Secretary Mary Gardner was in tears as she shared an ordeal she faced about being forced to administer shots. She steadfastly refused, as she has a fear of needles. It was something nurses used to do. She finally got a lawyer involved.

Teacher Erin Cairy spoke about taking leave just before school started. She said the administration never reached out to her. Although she emailed a letter to be sent to the students who were supposed to be in her class and their parents, it was never sent. She also emailed asking how she could help the new teacher, but that went unanswered. She said she returned this year, and many questions she’s asked about programs, such as iready, have been taken as being negative.

At one point during the meeting, moderator Todd Norman asked the group how many were hearing these stories for the first time. Almost half the room raised their hand.

Teacher Libby Metiva said that the board of ed has said things that have wounded, but they have also been manipulated. “How can we help them? All of you are influencers. I’m asking all of you to help empower and influence the board members to take back Cedar Springs.”

Superintendent VanDuyn gave the Post a statement about the petition. 

“As superintendent, it is my promise to the community to make the best decisions I can to ensure our students have an exceptional educational experience while keeping our district financially stable. Our students should have a top notch school system to develop and grow. I am saddened by this petition as I am fully committed to making CSPS the best place it can be. My daily motivation and priority continues to be serving the students and families of CSPS.”  

To watch the entire video of the community meeting, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68xfuX_Ulsw&feature=youtu.be

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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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School board dismisses complaints against Superintendent


 

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education passed a resolution 4-2 Monday evening to dismiss several complaints filed against Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn, including one filed by board member Ted Sabinas.

The board went into closed session Monday evening before voting on the resolution. The two board members voting against the resolution included Vice President Brooke Nichols and trustee Michelle Bayink. The resolution was read but there was no discussion.

The Post asked for a copy of the resolution, which was handwritten, from both Board President Matthew Shoffner, and the Superintendent’s office, but received no response from either.

According to Sabinas and others present at the meeting, the resolution dismissed complaints filed by Sabinas, Sue Wolfe, and Tammie Drake, which all asked for an investigation into whether Dr. VanDuyn had violated the school’s bullying and harassment policy (1162) in a statement she made to Sabinas in a previous board meeting on April 24, 2017. It happened during a presentation on privatizing the transportation services. Sabinas had tried to attend what was listed as an informational meeting between the bus drivers and administrative team, but was locked out. Sabinas said he was told that the drivers voted it down during that meeting, but that VanDuyn and Transportation supervisor Jerry Gavin then walked out and met privately, then went back into the meeting and told the drivers that if they voted against it, Gavin would be out of a job, but if they voted for it, he would work for Dean. The vote then passed. The statement under question from VanDuyn was uttered in an effort to explain why she and Gavin went outside.

“You had your truck backed in the parking lot and they felt stalked or intimidated by you sitting in the parking lot. And, so we had to check and see if things were safe for our drivers,” she said.

Sabinas had asked for an independent investigation. It was reportedly handled by Shoffner and treasurer Heidi Reed.

Sabinas reported that under the resolution, there would be no mention of the complaints in the Superintendent’s file.

The passage of the resolution did not stop people from airing their complaints during public comments. Many people addressed the board Monday evening, including current and former employees, and at least one high school student.

Teacher Erin Cairy (wife of former Asst. Superintendent Dave Cairy), who took a leave of absence this year to stay home with her three-year-old son, said the 2015/16 year was demeaning and toxic, and she had feared returning to the vicious things said about her family both verbally and on social media. After she submitted her leave of absence in August, many of her colleagues reached out to her, as did parents of the students she was to have, but the administration did not communicate with her at all. She said she sent emails and texts asking how she could help with the transition but they were not answered. She wrote a personal letter that she hoped to have delivered to the parents of her students, but it was not. She said she sent emails asking if she still had insurance. Those also went unanswered. On Sept. 4 she said she sent one final email begging for communication, but it also was not answered.

Kristina Cassiday also spoke. She worked for 13 years in the teaching and learning office. She said that she had always felt respected and well-liked by the principals, teachers and support staff, and had been thought of as dependable, trustworthy, knowledgeable and hardworking. However, she said that prior to her leaving, she was accused of unprofessional and unethical practices, including deleting appointments from Asst. Superintendent Jo Spry’s calendar; inappropriate charges on a purchase card; releasing confidential budget information to staff members; and cheating the system, in regard to vacation, sick and personal days. “This kind of leadership (false truths, devious, accusatory, strong arming and deceit) has spread fear and distrust throughout our district and community,” she said.

Senior Peyton Elliston spoke about how “our once cohesive, friendly town has turned into a divided battleground that has pitted teacher against teacher and student against student.” She talked about how teachers help students, and not just academically, but also as a mentor, and how several of those teachers she relied on as mentors were now gone. “I’m standing before all of you today to tell you that this—without a doubt—affects the students,” she said. She questioned how the people that are supposed to help students feel safe can do that when they don’t feel safe themselves. “Multiple staff members have stood before you over the last two years, simply asking for your help because they feel bullied and intimidated, yet you haven’t even acknowledged them, because they keep coming back. Imagine having a playground bully you can’t escape, and your repeated cries for help fall on deaf ears.” She noted that they are sending a message to students that their voices are insignificant.

Retired teacher Peggy Hansen asked why the board is turning a blind eye to all the controversy. She said teachers need to be reassured that they can speak out without retaliation. She also asked why the board is not getting back to community members regarding the questions they ask.

Teachers Union representative Brett Burns also spoke while 30-plus teachers stood behind him. “We stand before you this evening as a unified group of educators who you trust with your children every day. We want you to know that we love our kids, we are positive, we are united, we are hopeful. We want to begin the very important process of mending fences in order to build bridges to a bright future. Knowing that you want the same thing for our community and its children, we are extending an invitation for an open dialogue between educators and you, the members of the Cedar Springs Board of Education. We look forward to working as a team on this shared goal. Thank you for listening to this positive, caring majority who deeply desire the best for our staff, our community, and most importantly our kids,” he said.

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School board member files complaint against Superintendent


 

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education meeting held Monday evening—where at least 10 people spoke against Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn during public comment—culminated with trustee Ted Sabinas stating that he was filing a complaint against her for bullying.

Sabinas read his complaint aloud during board comments and then gave it to Board President Matt Shoffner to process.

“During the board meeting of April 24th, I believe that Dr. VanDuyn made an inappropriate calculated statement in an effort to discredit me,” said Sabinas. “Her statement is clearly a violation of our Neola policy 1662 Anti Harassment. Making this comment by stating someone else originally made the comment cannot be considered appropriate.” He also asked for her to be put on immediate leave and an independent compliance officer be hired to investigate the complaint.

His complaint refers to the April 24 board meeting, when they were discussing the possible privatization of transportation, and Dr. VanDuyn made a comment about the bus drivers feeling stalked or intimated by Sabinas.

Prior to that meeting, Sabinas had attempted to attend a meeting between the bus drivers and administration to learn more about the privatization and speak to staff but was locked out of the building. (He had been given permission to attend during March’s board meeting by Board president Matt Shoffner but that was later rescinded.)

At the April 24 Board meeting, bus driver Becca Fisk was speaking about the bus driver vote and how it was done. Sabinas said that he had heard that there was more than one vote by the bus drivers. He said he was told that the vote was initially no, and that the Superintendent and Jerry Gavin (the transportation supervisor) then had a private meeting, and then went back into the meeting with the drivers and told them that if they didn’t privatize, Mr. Gavin would be done in June; but if they did privatize, that he would then work for Dean’s Transportation for 5-7 years. He said he was told that another vote was then taken and it had passed, out of loyalty to Mr. Gavin.

It was then that Dr. VanDuyn made the statement that Sabinas is filing a complaint about.

She said she could speak to this. “There was an issue—we had bus drivers who were very uncomfortable because they didn’t want you to enter their meeting, and you were insisting you would be at their meeting, and you had your truck backed in, and they felt stalked or intimidated by you sitting in the parking lot and so we had to check and see if things were safe for our drivers.” She then looked at Becca Fisk. “You can attest to what you said about anyone being in the meeting other than Ken, Jerry and I with the departments.”

“And so Jerry and I did step out,” she continued, “and talked about whether you (Sabinas) were still there, this was a problem for our drivers, and Becca you can attest to…”

At that point she was interrupted by VP Brooke Nichols, who said she thought they should stick to the agenda.

Dr. VanDuyn responded with, “Ken, Jerry, and I know what happened in the meeting and what the votes were.”

Sabinas said in his complaint that “for Dr. VanDuyn to make bullying comments towards one of her employers shows a total lack of respect for the board and is an act of insubordination. If we allow these types of actions by the district leader we are telling the staff and students that it is completely OK to make bullying and harassment comments to anyone they encounter. The example that Dr. VanDuyn chose to demonstrate does not represent the core values of our district.”

Sabinas asked that Dr. VanDuyn be placed on immediate leave of absence and be restricted from school activities until an independent compliance officer can be hired and rule on the harassment and bullying complaint.

According to the Board’s policy, the Superintendent is the compliance officer that would normally investigate complaints. But Sabinas said he consulted with the legal division of the Michigan Association of School Boards, and they advised him to request an independent compliance officer.

“You can’t have her or a close associate investigate a complaint about her. I know we’ve had other complaints about the Superintendent that she or someone who works for her has investigated. The school lawyer is also not the right person because he has the needs of the school in mind,” explained Sabinas.

Earlier in Monday’s meeting, there were many public comments supporting Sabinas and condemning Dr. VanDuyn’s statement about stalking. Staff also spoke about fear of speaking up about things, saying that they had felt intimidated and manipulated, and were afraid of being targeted or reassigned. Several speakers asked for an investigation into Dr. VanDuyn.

Board member Heidi Reed spoke up and said that if there were an investigation, she would bring forth evidence showing that Sabinas had also bullied Dr. VanDuyn.

Sabinas said that he is not the type of board member that just takes what he is told by administration at face value. “I ask a lot of questions. I don’t rubber stamp things,” he explained. “People expect me to do what I say. I campaigned on being thorough, investigating, and talking to people.”

But Sabinas said that right now, it’s hard to do that. “I’m being blocked. Various staff members have said they were asked not to talk to me, and were told they would be fired. So they won’t talk,” he said.

He said it’s not routine in a school district that board members cannot speak to staff or ask them questions. “We have a lot of uniqueness going on here,” he said.

During Monday’s board meeting, Dr. VanDuyn listened but did not respond to complaints from residents and staff.

The Post emailed Board President Matt Shoffner on Tuesday, May 23, asking for a statement on what he was doing with the complaint, but did not have a response by Wednesday evening at press time.

The Post also emailed Dr. VanDuyn and gave her the opportunity to make a statement, but did not receive a response by press time.

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Year in Review: School board takes heat


Heidi Reed is one of two new faces on the Cedar Springs Board of Education this year.

Heidi Reed is one of two new faces on the Cedar Springs Board of Education this year.

Ted Sabinas is one of two new faces on the Cedar Springs Board of Education this year.

Ted Sabinas is one of two new faces on the Cedar Springs Board of Education this year.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education was under fire this year as many school staff members and residents took to the podium at school board meetings and wrote letters to the Post asking why four administrators had left since Supt. VanDuyn took over and expressing displeasure at the way certain matters were being handled by the board and administration. Many other residents and school staff took the opposite view, and said that they were supportive of the changes happening in the district.

Overflowing attendance at board meetings became the norm, as people on both sides of the issue yearned to have their voice heard.

The administrators in question had all resigned. Then two more administrators—elementary principals Andy Secor and Ken See—left last summer.

Later in the summer, the board released the Rehmann Report, a forensic audit that appeared to be targeted mainly at the athletic department. The forensic audit into record keeping in the athletic department at Cedar Springs Public Schools did not show any intentional misuse of funds or fraud, but did show that the district needs to have stricter policies and procedures on procurement cards and ensuring employees have the guidelines on how to use them. The report stated that they did not note any purchases under former Athletic Director Autumn Mattson that were inherently inappropriate.

“The investigation was a reflection of concerns brought to us about athletic accounts,” explained Dr. Laura VanDuyn, Superintendent at Cedar Springs Public Schools. “When several concerns mounted, the board decided to go ahead with the investigation. We are accountable to the community, staff, and parents. We are stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

Things got even more heated as the school board election campaign got underway. Incumbent Jeff Gust decided not to run again. Challengers Ted Sabinas (a former teacher and track coach) and Mistie Bowser campaigned together for two seats, and while challenger Heidi Reed and incumbent Joe Marckini campaigned separately, they were often promoted together by those writing letters to the editor. So it appeared there were two camps—Sabinas and Bowser (who questioned changes), and Reed and Marckini (who supported current administration). (A fifth candidate, Rita Reimbold, dropped out, saying she didn’t want to run against Marckini.) The election results showed, however, that it wasn’t quite so simple. Sabinas won his seat with 3,789 votes, and Reed won the second seat, with 3,602 votes. Bowser came in third with 2,789, and Marckini fourth, with 2,366.

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Sabinas and Reed win school board; other election results


Heidi Reed

Heidi Reed

Ted Sabinas

Ted Sabinas

By Judy Reed

While the results of the presidential race was the big surprise of Tuesday’s election, the results of the Cedar Springs Board of Education race may have also surprised some voters. There four people running for two seats: challengers Ted Sabinas and Mistie Bowser campaigned together for two seats, and while challenger Heidi Reed and incumbent Joe Marckini campaigned separately, they were often promoted together by those writing letters to the editor. So it appeared there were two camps—Sabinas and Bowser, and Reed and Marckini. (A fifth candidate, Rita Reimbold, dropped out, saying she didn’t want to run against Marckini.) The election results showed, however, that it wasn’t quite so simple. Sabinas won his seat with 3,789 votes, and Reed won the second seat, with 3,602 votes. Bowser came in third with 2,789, and Marckini fourth, with 2,366. Reimbold garnered 875 votes. The county of Newaygo added a handful of votes—about 26, split among the candidates.

City of Cedar Springs

City Council: There were two positions open for City Council, with only two people running. Jerry Gross Sr. got 744 votes, and Rose Ellen Powell 765.

Other election results (with more than one candidate for a position):

Nelson Township

Supervisor: Deputy Supervisor Robyn Britton ran as a write-in against Supervisor Tom Noreen, since he has said he will retire in December or January. Write-in results were not immediately available and Kent County has two weeks to certify those results. According to posted results, Noreen received 1,726 votes. If he wins the election, it would be up to the township board to appoint Britton to the position when Noreen retires.

Village of Sand Lake

President: Tom Norton ran for Village President and trustee Bette Towsley ran as a write-in candidate. According to posted results, Norton won 95 votes. The number of write-in votes has not been posted, and Kent County has up to two weeks to certify them.

Trustee: Nyha French (114), Tonia Parkhurst (105) and Danielle Hardenburg (90) won the three seats on the Village council. James Ward came in last with 75.

Proposal: The street bond proposal passed with 133 yes, and 76 no.

Courtland Township:

Clerk: Three candidates ran for Courtland Township clerk, and Sandra Frandsen-R won with 2,558 votes. Marilynn Crosby-D came in second with 1,313 votes, and Grace Mosher with 426.

Solon Township

Trustees: Mark Hoskins and Fred Gunnell won the two trustee seats. Hoskins-R had 1875 votes, and Gunnell-R 1806. They were followed by Christine Witt-D with 812, and Bruce Gravelin with 462.

Spencer Township

Treasurer: Two ran for one position. Scott Baas-R won the position with 1,098 votes. Judy Geglio-D received 815 votes.

Trustees: Two seats were won by John Tow II-R with 1,257 votes, and John Wood, Jr.-R with 1,180. Eldon Lutz-D received 677 votes.

Kent County:

Proposals: The Zoo and Museum millage proposal passed with 173,013 voting yes and 108,140 no. The enhanced 911 public safety surcharge passed with 205,112 voting yes, and 74,726 no.

Prosecuting attorney: Chris Becker-R won with 167, 451 over Alida Bryant-D with 119,923.

Sheriff: Lawrence Stelma-R won another term as Sheriff with 174,260 votes over opponent Michael Scruggs-D, who had 118,244.

Clerk/Register of Deeds: Lisa Posthumus Lyons-R won with 158,132, over Chris Reader-D (115,122) and James Lewis-Lib (16,007).

Treasurer: Kenneth Parrish-R (165,841) beat Jody Betten-D (118,164).

Drain Commissioner: Ken Yonker-R (159,616) won over Rachel Hood-D (127,812).

State

3rd District representative in Congress: Justin Amash-R won another two-year term with 59.45% of the vote, over Douglas Smith-D (37.52%) and Ted Gerrard-US Tax (3.04%)

73rd District representative in state legislature: Chris Afendoulis-R won another two-year term with 63.72% of the vote over Deb Havens-D (32.36%) and Ron Heeren-LIB (3.92%).

74th District representative in state legislature: Rob Verheulen-R won another two–year term with 64.47% of the vote over Robin Bigger-D (30.69%) and Bill Gelineau-LIB (4.83%).

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Candidates will help bridge communication gap


 

I have known Ted Sabinas for over 35 years. I have witnessed him give the majority of his life to serving the students and families of our community. I find him to be an honorable man possessing integrity. Even though retired, he again feels called to serve.

I have come to know Mistie Bowser over the past several months and witnessed her commitment and honesty. While a widowed mother of four, I appreciate her willingness to serve.

They both assured me they would respectfully ask the difficult questions, do their own research, and talk with our trained/experienced educational team for real answers. I believe they will serve as a trusting and transparent voice for all tax payers, educators, and most importantly our students.

Based on my direct conversations with Ted and Mistie (no rumors or hearsay), I am convinced they are the best choices for school board representatives. I believe Ted and Mistie’s motivation is based only on their commitment to making CSPS a place where children will become all they are meant to be, and will help bridge the current communication gap between staff and administration in a respectful way that will ease the current division and concerns of staff and help the administration find ways to connect and rebuild unity for the good of our kids.

For this important decision, I would ask that you gather accurate facts directly from Ted and Mistie before you cast your vote.

Tim Wolfe, Nelson Township

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Cedar Springs Board of Education candidates


 

By Judy Reed

It has been one of the most volatile campaigns for the Cedar Springs Board of Education in recent years. Four people are running for two six-year seats. Originally there were five candidates, but Rita Reimbold dropped out. The other four are:

Joe Marckini

Joe Marckini

Joseph Marckini: Joe Marckini has served on the Board of Education for the last nine years, and is looking for six more. He grew up in the Walker area, and Joe and his family moved to Algoma Township in 1996. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have two daughters, Emily and Maria. He said that he and his wife desire to serve the community and especially any organization which helps educate and support kids. He has been employed by the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) Local #7 for over 30 years as a sheet metal construction worker.

Joe said he is running for another term to ensure that every student receives fair and equal opportunities. “If re-elected, I will continue advocating for all students’ right to a S.T.R.E.A.M. education (Science, Technology, Recess, Engineering, Arts & Math). I will continue making KIDS FIRST decisions, supporting more intervention for at-risk students and more life-skills and trade skills training opportunities.” He said he would also continue to be a voice for education at the federal, state and local levels. He also wants to continue the changes he has seen under Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn. “I have been a part of bringing the current Superintendent to Cedar Springs. Under her leadership we have made many tough but important changes. So many positive things have happened over the last few years and I would like to be a part of the continued improvements.”

Besides serving on the Board of Education, Joe has also served on the Cedar Springs Executive Board PTO, Kent Intermediate School Board Association, National School Board Association (NSBA) Federal Relation Network, Friends of Kent County Schools, NEOLA policy committee, Cedar Springs Parks and Recreation, Cedar Springs Public Schools negotiation committee, and is the representative of Cedar Springs Public Schools Board of Education to the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB).

Joe said that his main strength is the ability to make hard but necessary decisions. “I am a fierce advocate for kids. I am not on the board to make friends or get a pat on the back. I am here to make sure Cedar Springs Public Schools follows all rules and policies and is fair in its decision making regarding students and staff. I want to be sure that the parents in our district know that their child is not only getting an excellent education but will also be treated fairly and equitably and have not only the support of their teachers but also the staff, Superintendent and school board. As a member of the board I am often regarded as the policy-enforcer, I make sure we are operating within the law and within the guidelines we have set up for ourselves.”

Joe sees funding as the major challenge facing the district. “Funding and resources has an impact on everything we do and attempt to do. Security, smaller classroom sizes, busing, professional development, infrastructure improvements, they all rely on funding. That’s why being an advocate at all levels of government is so important. We have to keep working for our kids to ensure they get what they need and deserve as citizens of this great democracy.”

Ted Sabinas

Ted Sabinas

Ted Sabinas: Ted Sabinas and his wife Dianne have lived in Cedar Springs for 39 years.  He was a teacher in the district for 34 years and served as a Cedar Springs High School coach of cross country, track, and several other sports for 37 years. Their two daughters, Mrs. Kahler and Mrs K (Kacprzyk) graduated from Cedar Springs and are currently teaching in our district. Their grandchildren also attend school here. “I have been committed to Cedar Springs for 39 years and feel strongly about the opportunity to run for the school board to help impact and make a positive difference in our school district,” said Ted.

Ted said he his primary reason for running for office is to “bring a background of teaching, coaching and educational leadership, along with my passion for our district, and to help guide and participate in the decisions being made as they impact our school district, community, staff and most importantly our students,” he explained.

Sabinas said the main strength he would bring to the office lies in his years of teaching and coaching experience, and his collaborative training. “[My] teaching and coaching experience, along with my commitment to our district, can help me guide and participate in the decisions being made as they impact our school district. With my collaborative training I have the ability to see what needs to be accomplished and how to get to the correct outcome together.

“While serving as the Cedar Springs Association President and Head of Negotiations for 17 years, I was trained and practiced collaborative negotiations with past superintendents and Boards of Education with very successful outcomes,” he noted. “I have a proven track record of demonstrating collaboration, active listening, and driving results over the years.” He said that he and the teams he worked with created a culture in which all problems can be discussed openly and solved with support from all involved using the collaborative method.

Sabinas said that our district faces many challenges. “Challenges such as the district revenues and expenses; being responsible to the community that elected the board; and creating a district wide positive image, are just a few of the many challenges that a board member faces,” he said. “We must address these challenges with research, hope, and caution, and determine if the board decisions are the correct direction to follow for our students in Cedar Springs. As a board member I will always place students as the main priority but also keep the community and staff informed and seek input from students, community and the staff.”

Heidi Reed

Heidi Reed

Heidi Reed: Heidi Reed is a wife, mother and businesswoman who lives in the city of Cedar Springs. She has been married for 33 years to Steve Reed, a teacher.    Together they have three boys, Trey, Thomas and Trevor. Trey Reed, graduated from CSHS and recently Cornerstone University. Thomas and Trevor are 10th graders at CSHS. Heidi is Vice President/Associate Real Estate Broker for Red Oak Management Co., Inc. For 27 years she has been responsible for property management issues, finance and compliance for 1,300 families at 48 locations in Michigan.

Heidi said she is running for school board because she has a sense of duty to this community and is community centered. “I will keep kids first in decisions, by asking the question, who benefits? I will be financially focused and look for the highest and best use of the taxpayer dollars. I enjoy policy and finance work. I have no other agenda for seeking this position other than the desire to do what I can to help Cedar Springs Public Schools achieve and improve. Being in affordable housing, I see everyday, the nexus of how important education is to our society.”

Heidi has been active on school and business committees. She serves on the Cedar Springs Public Schools Sinking Fund Committee 2010 to present; the Cedar Springs Public Schools: Strategic Planning Committee 2015-2016; and the Cedar Springs Public Schools District Improvement Team, to name a few.

Heidi said the main strength she will bring to the board is leadership. “I will bring:

  • Constant Leadership-knowledge of our students, educators and facilities.  I have been attending board meetings for a year in preparation for this position.
  • Balanced Leadership-understanding of the issues and opportunities we face as a district.
  • Engaged Leadership-the passion to lead forward.”

Heidi said there are multiple challenges facing the district, but the first is meeting all students’ needs with limited funding. “We are facing budgetary and operational issues now in our district that impact not just the students and their futures, but the economic and social health of Cedar Springs. I have the experience, judgment and desire to step up to these issues and listen, learn and lead. My corporate experience of blending multiple government programs together for success will be an asset to the school board.”

Mistie Bowser

Mistie Bowser

Mistie Bowser:  Mistie Bowser has been living in Courtland Township for 16 years. She said she has loved living here with her four children—Emily Umphrey, a 2013 CSHS graduate; Cameron Umphrey, a 2016 CSHS graduate; Myla Umphrey a junior at CSHS; and Elizabeth Bowser, a fourth-grader at Cedar View.
“I’m a spokeswoman for the American Lung Association, where I travel and share my story, which helps bring more lung cancer awareness to help fight this disease,” she explained. “We are a very academic, arts and athletic family. I’ve been very involved with our football, hockey, soccer, cross country, track, theatre, advanced and resource learning programs.”

Mistie is a very involved mom and community member who takes great pride in where she chose to raise her children. “I’m running for the Cedar Springs School Board because I want to have a direct hand in the decisions being made that will directly affect our students education and extra curricular activities,” she explained. “I will research the options to ensure that I will be making the best decisions for our Cedar Springs students, which my youngest is only in 4th grade so I have many years to stay vested. Our students deserve the best and most competitive education and I want to ensure that happens by putting students first with our staff and community right behind them, making a successful collaborative triangle.  I want to serve my commuity of Cedar Springs by working hard for you on our Cedar Springs School Board.”

Mistie has served on several boards and committees, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for nine years as member, treasurer, vice president and president; American Lung Association Regional Leadership Council as Chairwoman; the Mothers Of Preschoolers(MOPS) steering committee board; coached AYSO soccer; senior all night part committee, and more.

Mistie said the main strength she would bring to the board would be “my strong communication skills, understanding the importance and experience of being fiscally responsible, along with ensuring that I am and others are held accountable for all the decisions being made. I bring the perspective of a parent of a student and athlete in our district. Before voting on an item I will ensure that I have all the information from all sides so I can make a well-informed decision, and vote for what’s best for our students. I bring many years of leading non-profit organization boards with successful collaborative and respectful communication skills. I believe in everyone being fiscally responsible and accountable for all decisions being made. I will bring open communication along with always putting our students, staff and community front and center.”

“The major challenge in our district right now is the over 50 staff members that have left since January 2016, the fiscal decisions that have been made that are still not answered by our administration, and the communication and the morale of our staff and our community. Our district is hurting along with our community over some decisions that have been made over the past 2 years. I agree; I don’t like a lot of the decisions made either. My plan to address these problems is to communicate more, hold people accountable for their decisions, bring collaboration back, and use our finances responsibly by ensuring that money is only spent if it will directly affect our students. My biggest goal is to listen and communicate with our students, staff and community.”

Look for city and township candidates in next week’s Post!

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Concerned voter


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.


 

Concerned voter

I am a taxpayer in the Cedar Springs District and have been dismayed over the ugly politics being played in our schools. I have observed the barrage of negative attacks against the superintendent and the school board as the new leadership had demanded accountability and transparency. These attacks, seemingly made by a few disgruntled employees, their families and friends, have promoted the dual ticket running for school board.

To the detriment of the entire educational system, Ted Sabinas and Mistie Bowser have steadfastly represented the interests of only a handful of voters. What is their true motive for running for school board?

They complain that our top three administrators don’t live in the district. Why don’t they complain about the five principals and 79 percent of the teaching staff who do not live in the district? Does it really matter where staff members live?

They seem to be concerned about the students and staff who have left our district. Student count has increased. Staff members choose to leave their jobs for a variety of reasons. Some retire, some move and others want to work closer to home.

They are unable to produce authoritative evidence to support the claims they make. Positive changes cannot be made by spreading negativity and rumors.

Mistie has run twice for the board in the past and wasn’t elected. I can’t think of any good reason to elect either one now.

I encourage those who are in favor of the positive progress being made in the district to vote for the two individuals running for the sake of the students and moving forward in Cedar Springs: incumbent Joe Marckini and Heidi Reed.

Concerned voter,

Denise Bremmer, Algoma Township

 

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