Monday, January 21, 2019

State of Vestaburg Community School 2019

It is the time of year that our elected officials provide their constituents a State of the Union or State of the State Address, or at least most years anyway!  It is with this in mind that I thought I would try to provide a state of our school update.  However, please know that this is not all inclusive of everything that is taking place at Vestaburg Community School.

For starters, it has been a busy year with many staff changes.  These changes include the addition of Mrs. Jennifer Warner-Leja as the 7-12 Principal; Allyssa Wilson as the Business Manager; Samantha Cashen, Spanish, and Math Teacher; Kate Drury, Therese Hubble, and Tamara White, Second Grade Teachers;  Angela Davis, Preschool Teacher; and Jordan Hessbrook, HS Social Studies and English Teacher.  In addition, we have added several new paraprofessionals that are working hard with students to meet daily needs and provide academic interventions.  In many areas, there are shortages of qualified staff to fill these roles!  Thus, we are very excited to have each of these individuals join the Wolverine family. We are blessed with a very dedicated and caring staff and I am confident that our staff will continue to push our district forward!

This school year, 2018-2019, marks the third straight year that we have seen an increase in our student enrollment.  During this time, we have seen our enrollment increase by approximately 40 students.  We continue to see a positive net gain with school of choice numbers.  Currently, we are running two full preschool classrooms and a three-year-old program.  This has been a priority for our school board to provide our young children with a quality preschool program.  In addition, VCS has been at the forefront in the virtual/alternative education programming.  At this time, we are the authorizer for a charter school that serves approximately 1300 students through ten sites around the state of Michigan.  In addition, this year the district launched a new alternative education program that is serving 150 students through a blended virtual experience.  This has been a deliberate and powerful endeavor for the district and the Board of Education for the purpose of serving students in need and providing diversified programs and revenue for the district.  Through all of these commitments and programs, Vestaburg Community School is serving and changing the lives of over 2000 students in the state of Michigan.

This past fall, the district put a bond issue before the community.  While the issue failed by a close margin, the board did receive considerable positive feedback and has determined that it is important enough to try again with another election in May of 2019. The projects include roofing updates, purchase of school buses, replacement of the high school bleachers, and if funds permit some remodeling of older bathrooms and classrooms.  Each of these issues are considered capital improvements and very costly.  For example, one new school bus is $80,000 - $90,000 and a new roof is over $1,000,000.  While we understand that for many, additional taxes are not a positive thing and may be difficult, we feel our children and our school are worth it!   The decision to ask the community to approve an increase is not taken lightly and the needs are not luxuries, but rather necessities.   If approved it would cost the voters approximately $5.00-$13.00 dollars a month.  School funding can be complicated, and it does not provide for the capital cost and projects.  As you look at public schools across the state, capital projects such as this are funded with bonds and millages.  Furthermore, it is important to note that Vestaburg Schools receives one of the lowest amounts of tax dollars per student in our ISD and ranks in the bottom 5% in the state of Michigan. Lastly, we know that many people may not understand or agree with the decisions that have been made in the past. However, we cannot change the past, but we can ensure the current and future children of our community a great and safe school.  Our kids are worth the investment and we are committed to providing them with the best education possible!

The district is also in the process of finalizing the last stage of our security updates.  Over the next few months, we will be installing the latest Smart Boot technology that will make Vestaburg only the second school in Michigan with this technology.  As you may recall, we have been able to implement all of our security updates including the Boot, emergency placards, ballistic shields, and cameras through generous community donations and through lighting upgrades that provide savings to pay for all of these updates.  We remain committed to the security of our buildings and our students!

As previously mentioned, this is not an all-inclusive list, but rather an overview of some of the great things taking place.  While we may be small on the outside, we are making a huge difference for thousands of students and we are leading the way in many areas addressed above.  The Board and the staff are committed to continuing to put our students first, be fiscally responsible, and keep on the front edge of education.  We ARE Vestaburg and our Students are Worth It!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

We ARE Vestaburg!!: 2019: Here we Come!

We ARE Vestaburg!!: 2019: Here we Come!: This is an interesting time of the year.  It is the start of a new calendar year, as well as, the start of the governmental year.  It is a t...

2019: Here we Come!

This is an interesting time of the year.  It is the start of a new calendar year, as well as, the start of the governmental year.  It is a time of reflection and a time of looking forward.  It is a time of promises and resolutions to do better.  However, for schools, it is the natural break or midway point in the school year.  While this can be challenging, it is also an opportunity to learn from the first half of the year and to make changes to improve the second half of the year.  So, as we look forward to 2019 it is important that we explore a couple of truths that are evident in order to be successful, morale and hard-work.

No matter how you consume the news,  a common theme is that we need to improve the morale of the people.  As new officials take office it is a common talking point and promise.  Whether in government, business, or life, in general, there is no doubting the impact positive morale can play.  Research in abundant and clear on the power of positive thinking and positive morale.  However, this leads to the question as to whose job is it create a positive moral.  Can any organization really control how an individual feels about something?  The answer to this is that while both parties play a role, it ultimately is up to an individual how they choose to see things, react to things, and whether they chose to be positive or negative.  A successful organization will put into place processes, policies, and strategies that provide a positive structure that will allow its people to be successful and feels appreciated.  A successful organization will even help individuals to focus on the positive aspects rather than dwell in the negative.  However, it is up to each of us as individuals to find the positives and to control our own happiness.  We cannot and should not wait for someone or something else to make us happy!  As has been said many times, we cannot always control what happens but we can control how we react.  In fact, it is often the only thing we can control.  As a staff, students, parents, and citizens we need to help each other see the positives and not get caught up dwelling on the things that we do not like, but rather, look for positive ways to make meaningful change within ourselves.

Furthermore, positive morale and attitude alone are not enough. There is no success without hard work. However, while working hard is a requirement, just working hard is not enough! Working hard provides opportunities, it is not a guarantee that you will be successful.  That is not life and it is not reality. However, you cannot be successful without hard work.  This true for us as adults and educators and it is true for students. It is imperative that we as a school, parents, and a community continue to improve each and every day. Furthermore, it is critical that push ourselves and those around us beyond their comfort zones, progress is not made without a struggle. We need to think and problem-solve, not complain. As parents, we cannot protect and prevent our children from this process and feeling some discomfort. This is what leads to growth and improvement. However, as important as this process is, equally important is how we support them and teach them to overcome the struggle. This is as true for adults as it is for our children. This is where as a community and as partners we need to work together. We do not have to have all the answers, but rather let our children and fellow citizens know you care and are there to help them find the answer. Let them know you are there to help and empower them to think, learn, and overcome.  

So as we move into the new year, let's make it the best year yet. Let's work together to ensure that we are growing as a community, a school, and as individuals. Through hard work and positive thinking we will make 2019 a year to remember and in doing so, help set up our future generations for success.
We Are Vestaburg!

Friday, September 14, 2018

November Bond Proposal

Dear Parent(s) and Community Member,

On behalf of the Vestaburg Board of Education, I am writing to inform you of an upcoming bond proposal. As a result of the 2009 bond, we were able to update and add to many of our facilities, which have provided a richer educational experience for our students. As part of our responsibility to our students and our community, the district is committed to being good stewards of the resources we have been so generously provided. With this commitment in mind, on November 6, 2018 voters in the Vestaburg Community School district will be asked to vote on a bond proposal to continue addressing our facility needs.

Bond Overview
A school bond election is a bond issue used by a public school district to finance a building project or other capital project. These measures are placed on the ballot by district school boards to be approved or defeated by the voting public. The bond funds can only be used for the purposes expressed on the ballot.
The upcoming proposal comes as the result of many years of hard work by the Board of Education and staff creating a long-term strategic plan identifying current and future needs of district facilities. Upon reviewing the results of our survey, it has been decided to address immediate, essential needs for our schools. Therefore, the Board of Education is asking voters whether or not to increase 1.6 mills that would generate approximately $2,180,000 to pay for these district needs.

Facility Improvement Scope:
The bond will pay for the following needed improvements across the district:

·        Roof Replacement - Most of the facility’s roof is beyond its life expectancy and needs repair and/or replacement to resolve current leaking issues. Additionally, the most recently updated sections are nearing their 10 to 15-year warranty expiration and will need to be updated in the next five (5) to 10 years. After a cost analysis, it has been concluded that it is most effective to support an extended warrantied roof that will serve the facility for the next 40 or more years.

·         Upgraded Transportation - Currently, we have a fleet of eight (8) buses that are in use daily, with the newest addition in 2008 and reaching the end of their useful life period. The bond funds would be used to purchase up to four (4) new school buses to update our fleet.

·         Upgraded High School Gymnasium Bleachers - The current bleachers are the original wood, which is degrading thus requiring us to replace several boards each year costing hundreds per board. Additionally, they are not up to the current American with Disabilities Act standards.

·         Additional – If funds permit, updates may be made to the bathrooms and classrooms in the older sections of our building.

Tax Impact:
As many of you are aware, school funding is always an issue. Not every district is funded at the same level, nor are all communities blessed with the same level of resources. Some schools are funded at a higher per student rate than others, and the funding generated through taxes is dependent on the size and structure of the district.
If approved by voters, the upcoming district’s bond will create an expected annual increase of $1.60 to each $1,000 of your home’s taxable value. See tax impact formula below:

Home Taxable Value / 1000  X  1.6  = Annual Increase

Example for $100,000 home value:
$50,000 taxable value/1000 X 1.6 = $80.00/year or $6.60 a month.

In the coming weeks, I will communicate more information on behalf of the school district related to the specifics of the bond proposal. We want to make sure everyone understands the needs and the financial impact of meeting those needs. We welcome you to stay tuned for further information on the upcoming bond, welcome your comments and questions and look forward to you voting this November.


Brandon Hubbard

Vestaburg Community Schools

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Welcome Back

August is a unique time of year.  On one hand, the "summer" is winding down and with that, there is always some sadness.  However, on the other hand, there are still some fun family time and vacations planned. Lastly, it is filled with the excitement of school clothes shopping, seeing friends and classmates, and of course all of the outstanding learning opportunities that come with a new school year.  For educators, it is the opportunity to get back to doing what we love and that is working with and educating our children. Although for many, students and staff alike, the alarm clock starts going off at what seems like an impossibly early time, this is one of the best times of the year.  As with any school year, we assuredly will experience many highs and lows, conflicts, and struggles.  However, as long as we face them with an open mind, respect for all involved, and as a team, there is nothing that we will not overcome.   WE ARE VESTABURG!

This past year the district was able to continue to improve our school safety. In addition to the “Boot” which was installed in each classroom in the spring of 2017, this past year new reflective placards and protective
devices called the "Shield" for glass areas were installed.  We are also in the process of installing a Bluetooth notification system.  We are able to do this through a lighting project that includes updating and improving our lighting to LED lights and with the energy savings, we will be able to pay for the security updates without affecting our general fund budget. In doing this, we will become only the second school in the state of Michigan to implement this program, further demonstrating our commitment to protecting our students.

Furthermore, we are working hard to implement the objectives as set forth by the Strategic Plan that was created last spring.  We will be continuing to expand our one to one technology initiative that will include grades 5-12 with each student assigned a Chromebook for the year.  We are expanding our service to at-risk students, approximately 1000 students, in our virtual program throughout the state of Michigan. Another area of focus continues to be the area of student behavior and discipline processes, as we strive to provide all of our students the best learning environment possible.  In addition, we will be welcoming new staff, as well as, having current staff in new positions.  Please stay tuned for more information as the staffing changes and new hires are still taking place.

Lastly, it is a goal of all levels of our school district to invite and participate in meaningful two-way collaboration and communications with all of our stakeholders including, students, parents, staff, and community
members and organizations.  Some of you may have heard me say our school is our community and our community is our school.  I truly believe that we need to be a strong team and to support each other in order for both the community and the school to grow and thrive.  Neither one can maximize its potential without the other.  Thus, we will continue to seek input from all and to look for ways to increase opportunities for input and collaboration.

Here is to a great school year!  I look forward to working with everyone and to watching our school continue to grow.  WE ARE VESTABURG!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

School Funding: Changes Need To Be Made.

You may have seen recent article's pertaining to the recommendations and findings of the School Finance Reform Committee.  "The study ... is the most comprehensive study of K-12 school funding in Michigan in at least 50 years," said Mike Addonizio, a Wayne State University professor and school finance expert (as reported in the Detroit Free Press on January 17, 2018).  Here are a few highlighted findings of the 358-page report, as provided by the Michigan Association of School Administrators presented:

  • The base per-pupil cost to educate a regular education K-12 student in Michigan is $9,590, which does not include transportation, food service or capital costs, and only includes pension costs at 4.6% of wages.
  • Charter and traditional public schools should be funded equally.
  • It costs $14,155 to educate a preschool student age 3 or 4.
  • In addition to the base per-pupil cost, a percentage of the base cost should be provided for special education, English Language Learners, students living in poverty and programs to provide Career and Technical Education.
  • Transportation costs should be funded at $973 per rider until further study can be carried out.
  • Because Michigan’s school district sizes vary widely and small districts lack economies of scale, district size must be taken into account, with funding increases provided for all districts under 7,500 students.

As you look at the recommendations, it is important to understand that many districts, including Vestaburg, is funded at a base of $7,631 per student not including some grants and federal funds that the school receives.  This includes things like transportation and food service.  In addition to most of the districts being underfunded, the funding levels are not equal. As reported by the Detroit Free Press on January 17, 2018, "Per-pupil funding varies widely in the state. In metro Detroit, for instance, a number of districts receive the bottom amount and the two highest-funded districts — Birmingham Public Schools and Bloomfield Hills Schools — receive slightly more than $12,000 per pupil."  

In addition to most of the districts being underfunded, the funding levels are not equal.  As Randy Liepa, superintendent of the Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency, the intermediate school district for Wayne County stated (as reported in the Detriot Free Press on January 17, 2018), "We’ve all recognized that the system which started in 1994 with a promise is now just stale, outdated and really needs to be corrected," referring to Proposal A, the current system for funding schools that was enacted that year."

Why should a student from Bloomfield Hills Schools cost more to educate than a student from Vestaburg?  Does a student from Birmingham Public Schools deserve a better education that one from Vestaburg, I think not! It is time that we as citizens demand that our legislators do what is right for our students, all of our students and fund education appropriately and equitably. 

The full report can be viewed at Also, you can read full Detroit Free Press Article at

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Over the past few years, I have become a follower/reader of Jon Gordon's work.  For those that do not know who he is, he is an author and speaker that focuses on the benefits of positive energy in both personal lives and professional organizations.  For example, for Thanksgiving, he posted the following quote, "Abundance flows into your life when gratitude flows out of the heart." So, in this vein and in the spirit of Thanksgiving I would like to say Thank You to everyone at Vestaburg Schools and the Vestaburg Community for everything that you to help educate and support our school and our children.  We are all blessed to live and work in such a great place and with so many great people and children.  Furthermore, below are the individuals that have been recognized as part of our Shoutout program for going above and beyond.  These are October and Novembers recognitions:

Linda PlamerEveryday on her way into the school building, I see her stop and pick up trash and throw it away. Trying to keep the entrance looking nice. Some people would just walk by and not do anything.
VCS StaffHomecoming Week. The staff did a great job of participating in all of the activities including a dance performance at the assembly and building a float and walking in the parade. This was outstanding and not something you see from most staffs in other schools.
Amanda Slezak/Kerry Krzymicki and Student CouncilThese two ladies and the student council put a tremendous amount of work and effort into planning all of the Homecoming activities. This was their first year and they did an outstanding job. It was a great week in large part to the work of the student council and their advisers.
Karen GostomskiKaren organized "A Salute To Soldiers" Assembly for PS through second grades on Oct 6th. It was very worthwhile for students and more geared toward their level of understanding about what it means to honor our veterans.

Traci McCormickI would like to shout out to Traci McCormick who offers to stay after hours to copy and laminate. Thanks, Traci!
Bruce, Allison, and Dalton KeyesThey all gave up a Saturday to help the NHS make their apple pies. We really appreciate the sacrifice they made for our students.
Kim HansenMrs. Hansen is always going above and beyond. She goes the extra mile with the students she works with on a daily basis and she even works with students who aren't even assigned to her. She does all of this without being asked. If she sees there is a need, she gets the job done. Thank you Mrs. Hansen, for all you do!
Kitchen StaffTo the kitchen staff for being so hard working and contributing to a good evaluation from the State of Michigan.