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.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Grit and September Updates

The school year is off and running.  Students and staff are settling in to routines and the honeymoon of the new year is wearing off.  This is when it starts to become harder and harder to get up early and also, when struggles start to appear and present themselves.  It is important to keep in mind that struggles are a very important part of the learning process and that as parents it is critical that you do continue to encourage your children to work hard and not give up.  The grit of working through the struggles is one of the most important skills a child can learn.  Without the grit, it is impossible to be successful in school, but more importantly in life.  Part of having grit is having a Growth Mindset. a simple way of thinking about a Growth Mindset is that it is not that a student cannot do something, it is that they cannot do it yet! So, as a parent one of the best things you can do is to instill grit and a growth mindset in your children. This does not require understanding Algebra but rather simply encouraging your children each day to not give up and keep trying. VESTABURG=GRIT!


  • Congratulations to this months Shout Out Recipients:
  • Ms. Sharon Davis:  Ms. Davis has volunteered her own time this summer painting room 84 and decorating the upper elementary wing.  She has also been seen in the office volunteering and creating many bulletin boards around the building. Vestaburg Community Schools is blessed to have her.
  • Carol Herman: For taking time out of her schedule to come and organize the art room closets and cupboards.  She did an amazing job and everything is neat and organized.  Thank you, Carol!!
  • DALMAC Volunteers and Sports Boosters: This is a huge event for our school and our community. This year we hosted two different groups totaling 900-1000 people. Once again, we received outstanding feedback and reviews. It truly is a community event and could not be done without all of the help. A special thanks to the Vestaburg Sports Boosters and Mr. Walderzak for all of their time and effort planning and executing this event. Running an event like this requires more help and volunteers than we can list. So, to everyone that came to help cook and serve the visitors, set up for the event, or baked desserts, THANK YOU.
  • Val Palmer: For all of her work enrolling 50+ students with all of the paperwork involved and still keeping a smile on her face and a positive attitude.
  • The school is happy to announce that enrollment is up approximately 50 students this year. This is great news! We have many new faces and we are glad to have all of the new families and students. Welcome to our great school and community.
  • Strategic Planning: The Board of Education is in process of exploring and implementing a Strategic Planning process. This process is critical for school districts as it helps to set the course for the next 3-5 years. The process is a multi-step process that requires participation and input from the community through surveys and meetings. Stay tuned for more information.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Vestaburg Pride!

In today's world of negative news and it is important that we take time to celebrate our accomplishments and what makes us proud to say We ARE Vestaburg!  

Located on M-46 West of Alma, Vestaburg is a community rich with tradition, where athletics and academics go hand in hand.   A supportive community that added state of the art facilities to their schools in 2009, many local volunteers and partnerships with youth organizations and extensive booster groups offer opportunities to be involved.   Academic programs include an Early College program, Dual Enrollment courses, state of the art technology and Virtual School, Career and Technical Education programs, and a student centered approach that is committed to ensuring our students have 21st-century skills.  Students at Vestaburg Community Schools are also provided many academic competitions and clubs to participate in. Vestaburg offers an extensive athletic program that includes a wide variety of athletic teams, a new athletic complex that was opened in 2009 that hosts Softball, Baseball, Track & Field, Football, and is open to the public during daylight hours for walking or running, and new and updated fitness room that is also open to the public.

This tight-knit community opens its arms to new faces and embraces the strengths everyone brings to our community.  Each July the community comes together to celebrate the Vestaburg Community Days complete with a parade, car show, pig roast, softball tournament, 5k race, fireworks, and many more activities for all ages. In addition, every August the school and the town play host to over 1000 DALMAC riders on their way to the Mackinac Bridge, providing meals and shelter along with smiling faces from countless volunteers.  Vestaburg is a proud and caring community that offers a top notch education and a hometown experience. The supportive community and excellent educational opportunities make Vestaburg Schools and community a destination for families.

Additional Points of Pride:
  • Updated and remodeled facilities (2010).
  • School Security – School security is a priority.  The district and community raised over $25,000 in a month last February to upgrade every classroom and office as the “Boot” locking device.  Installing a Bluetooth and light notification system, the “Shield” protective device, and new placards for classroom notification for the 2017 school year.  The only school in mid-Michigan with the “Boot Device” and only the second school in Michigan to install the new lighting and Bluetooth systems.
  • Partnered with Success Virtual to provide an Alternative Virtual Education to students around the State of Michigan.  Approximately, 11 sites throughout Michigan.  This program is a blended program that has helped hundreds of students graduate high school.
  • Approximately 25% or more of 11th and 12th-grade students earn college credit through Dual Enrollment offerings.
  • 9 VHS students are participating our Early College Program earning both High School Diploma’s and a 2- year college degree - 6 students have completed this program.
  • 5-star Preschool Program.
  • Offer a 3-year old Preschool Program.
  • Host ISD based playgroups for preschools and Head Start.
  • New and updated curriculum including, Math (k-12) and Science (k-12) Next Generation Standards.
  • Offer a Multi-Tiered System of Support to our students.  Interventions for at-risk children and common intervention time for all students.
  • Sponsor a full-time Michigan College Access Network Advisor that works with students on financial aid, scholarships, college applications, and career options.
  • The 2017 VHS Robotics team won the Shepherd District, qualified/participated in the State Finals, and qualified participated in the World Championships.
  • Girls Softball Team was Academic All-State in 2017.
  • The football team has qualified for the State Playoffs in 2016 and 2017.
  • Three Students qualified and medaled at the MHSAA State Track Meet.
  • State of the Art Fitness Room and highly qualified Athletic Trainer.
  • Vestaburg High School students participated in over eighteen (18) sponsored academic activities including Quiz Bowl, Model U.N., Forensics, Language Arts, Talent Review, Band and Honors Band, Technology Competitions, Art Review, Voice of Democracy Writing Competition, Foreign Language Club, Close-up, Student Council, National Honors Society, Math Competitions, Drama Club, in addition to the 42% of the student body that participates in over eleven (11) school sponsored athletic programs.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Back to School 2017

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 high 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 improve our school safety through the generous donations of our community.  In just over a month, we were able to raise over $20,000 and as a result, we installed a "Boot" barricade in every classroom.  This made us the first school in the area and one of the first in the state to do this.  This year, in an effort to continue to increase student safety, we are implementing several new safety features including, a Bluetooth notification system, new reflective placards, and a protective device called the "Sheild" for glassed areas.  We are able to do this through a new 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 impacting our general fund budget.    In doing this, we became only the second school in the state of Michigan to implement this program, further demonstrating our commitment to protecting our students.

Furthermore, we will be continuing to expand our one to one technology initiative that will include each student in the middle and high school being assigned a Chromebook for the year.  We are continuing to expand our service to at-risk students through our virtual program throughout the state of Michigan. In addition, we are looking forward to a new and improved food service program, new foreign language classes, and many other curricular and extra-curricular updates and improvements.

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.

So, 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!

Brandon Hubbard

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Millage Letter

I sent this out this last spring, however, with the vote quickly approaching I thought I would post it again. Please feel free to share. Hope everyone is having a great Summer and see you at the start of school.

Dear Parent(s) and Community Member(s),

On behalf of the Vestaburg Board of Education, I am writing to inform you of a couple of upcoming millage proposals.  As a result of the 2009 bond, we were able to update and add to many of our facilities which have allowed us to provide 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.  As such, it is important that we are able to continue addressing our facility needs.As many of you are aware, school funding is always an issue.  What you may or may not know is that not every district is funded at the same level.  In addition, not all communities are blessed with the same level of resources such as taxable values.  In other words, some schools are funded at a higher per student rate than others and what is generated through taxes is not the same from community to community depending on the size and structure of the district. It is with this in mind that on August 8, 2017, voters in the Vestaburg Community School district will be asked to vote on two different millage proposals.  

The first proposal is to renew the current millage levied on the non-homestead property (industrial, commercial, business, rental, and second homes). The current millage is set to expire on December 31, 2017. This proposal does not affect the taxes of owner-occupied primary residences – for homeowners, an approval will cost you nothing!  However, if it is not renewed, it would result in a loss of approximately $431,728 of funding per year or approximately $744 per student that would not be replaced.

The other proposal is for a Sinking Fund.  A sinking fund millage is a limited property tax to fund major repairs and renovations to school facilities including, school security improvements, and instructional technology. The tax is levied each year and the revenue generated is used to address the most urgent building and site improvements identified by a school district. Sinking fund uses are limited by law to the construction or repair of school buildings, school security improvements, and acquisition or upgrading of instructional technology.   The ballot will be asking for 3 mills for 10 years.  This would be an increase of $3.00 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation.  If approved, the millage would generate approximately $265,391 annually. This proposal comes as the result of three 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.  

One of the primary needs to be addressed in the plan is the school building’s roof.  While some of it was upgraded in the 2009 bond and renovation, most areas are beyond their life expectancy and are in need of repair and/or replacement. Furthermore, even the updated sections were done so with ten to fifteen-year roof systems and will be coming off warranty and will need to be updated in the next five to ten years. After cost analysis and due to the cost of replacing and/or updating the roof, the plan calls for the roof to be addressed by sections over the next ten years with a roof that will last the next thirty to forty years. Furthermore, a cost analysis A cost analysis estimated that by installing a 30-year roof versus other options such as 15 year systems, the district would save approximately 1.2 million dollars over the next 30 years. In addition to the roof, there are many other needs identified in the plan that will continue to enhance the student’s learning experience including, but not limited to security upgrades, student instructional technology, parking lot repairs, bathroom repairs, classroom updates, and track repairs. 

All registered voters in the Vestaburg School District will vote at the Richland Township Hall on August 8th. In addition, if anyone has any questions or has a group to whom they would like information presented, please contact Central Office at 989-268-5353, and we will be glad to answer your questions and/or set up a time to meet. Your feedback and questions are welcome and appreciated.  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

We ARE Vestaburg!!: Graduation

We ARE Vestaburg!!: Graduation: Graduation High School Graduation is a very special time in a person’s life.  It is a time of celebration, a time of reflection, a time...