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From the Superintendent’s desk…

Dear Cedar Springs Public Schools Families:

It’s been a wonderful start to the school year.  In fact, several principals and teachers have shared, “It’s the best start to the school year I’ve ever had!”  That speaks volumes for the fine staff, students and families of Cedar Springs.  Thank you for your contributions to get us off to such a smooth beginning.  As I begin my second year as superintendent I thought it important to highlight some of the many accomplishments we made last year at CSPS and to share where we’re heading this year.

To begin with I thank our students, staff, parents and community for such a warm Cedar Springs welcome to me and my family.  The most important accomplishment of my first year as superintendent was getting to know and building relationships with the fine people of Cedar Springs.  In so doing, being in our schools with our students and staffs has been a highlight for me.  Our kids are the heartbeat of our school district, they are the reason we are here and our schools illustrate the very good things our staffs are doing for kids.  Having “meet and greet” meetings with staff, parents, students as well as members of the community has been invaluable for me as I learned about our district and community.  Joining Rotary, joining Girl Scouts, attending school and community events, riding on top of a bus in the Red Flannel Festival parade, attending the FFA convention with Larry Reyburn and our students, attending the Life Leadership conference with our seniors and planning powerful opening and closing ceremonies have been such an enjoyable part of my role as superintendent.  Thank you for the terrific year!  Following are some other accomplishments we made at CSPS in the 2014-15 school year.

• Established a new CSPS website to better serve staff, parents, community and students.

• Researched and selected a new math curriculum for grades 6-12 in order to serve students, staff and parents…we hope you like it!

• Implemented a school administrator evaluation system.

• Opened the CSPS Health Clinic in order to serve all district students and siblings.

• Purchased new buses to replace our aging fleet in order to better serve kids and parents.

• Implemented a comprehensive reform of Board policy that will soon be adopted.

• Implemented a new teacher evaluation system for all teachers K – 12.

• Implemented the M-STEP, the new Michigan standardized test.

• Established a Human Resource Department to serve our staff and administrators.

• Provided academic interventionists and full-time GATOR reading interventionists.

• Restored some positions for our employees to full time by reducing contracting out for services.

• Upgraded existing and added new technology to serve our students and teachers.

Clearly, 2014-15 was a joyful and productive school year!  The 2015-16 school year proves to be just as good, if not better.  We are working toward putting more structures in place to serve our students, staff, parents and community.  One of the major endeavors of this year will be entering into the strategic planning process.  Strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining direction for the organization in order to accomplish goals.  In that process the vision, mission and core values of the organization are defined.  The vision is where we are trying to go; the mission is why we are doing what we’re doing; the core values are how we are going to go about it.  The process is one that involves all stakeholders.  That is where our staff, students, administrators, parents and community members come in.  We’ll reach out to all groups to provide input into that process.  Look for that opportunity…it’s an exciting time in CSPS!  In addition to the “big picture” of strategic planning the following are focal points for the 2015-16 school year:

• Lower class sizes in response to feedback from our teachers and parents.  I am pleased to share that by adding 2 additional classes (2nd and 5th) all K-8 classrooms are now at 30 and below, except 7th grade.  We will continue to work toward lower class sizes and will do so with the intention of long-term sustainability. 

• Provide Responsive Classroom® training to build school culture and community as well as embed school-wide expectations and management.  This is in response to teacher and administrator requests, which help set direction for professional development. 

• Continue to budget for technology replacements and upgrades to provide 21st century learning.

• Purchase buses to continue to bring our fleet where it needs to be to serve our kids and parents.

• Continue best teaching practices with Adaptive Schools®, Cognitive Coaching®, professional learning communities and workshop models of instruction with aligned assessment and reporting.

• Begin an Interact Rotary Club for our high school students in order to do service learning for our schools and community.

• Establish operating procedures that will align with new Board policies.

• Research and select new math curriculum for K-5 to serve our students, teachers and parents.

• Restore some positions for our employees to full time in order to serve our students better and to ensure local jobs for our citizens are provided as much as possible.

• Continue providing academic interventions by ensuring financial allocations are in place to serve students of all levels as well as to explore the best structures for interventions to occur (RtI).

• Continue to grow our Human Resource Department to serve staff and administrators.

• Research positive behavior support systems for K-12.

• Ensure all staff are properly and thoroughly trained in Title IX and other legal mandates.

• Administer the SAT for the first time as it replaced the ACT.

• Provide training and supports for master scheduling.

• Provide professional development on the topic of poverty and on technology in response to our teachers’ desires.

• Continue to grow Campus Kids to support kids and families in before and after care.

• Install fencing around Beach Elementary School to provide for safety and security of our kids.

In addition to all we are doing internally at CSPS to continue to grow our wonderful district, this year is the year we will undergo our external AdvancED® accreditation process (formerly NCA).  During the year we’ll work with advisors and representatives who will review many facets of our schools during visits and through extensive documentation reviews.  We look forward to the process, albeit a time intensive and technical one, as we hope to learn what is going well and ways in which we can become even better at what we do for students.

In closing, I want to thank you, Cedar Springs parent and community member voters for our sinking fund.  By voting for our sinking fund, you ensure that our schools have the upkeep they need in order to provide for our students.  Our Sinking Fund committee and administration worked together to identify facility improvements for this year.  Thanks to you, we have a new gym floor at Beach and at Cedar View.  We also will have a new boiler at Cedar View.  We truly appreciate your support!  Priorities for next year include safety and security of our school entrances.  We’ll keep you posted on those plans.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your CSPS superintendent.  I take great pleasure in knowing that at CSPS, students come first.  In addition to being superintendent, I am a parent of 2 children in the district so I well know how important it is that all of our kids come first!  On behalf of the CSPS Board of Education, administration, teachers and support staff, thank you for partnering with us to provide the very best education for our students.  Please know I enjoy meeting and getting to know our students and families so call or drop by for a visit at any time.  I would love an opportunity to get to know you and learn how I might support your wishes or to answer any questions you may have.

Warmly,

Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

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