By Steve Fryling,
District Communications Specialist
Following recent media attention about some schools in Michigan misappropriating funds, a recent review of Vicksburg Schools revealed that state and federal grant funds were well spent.
Most school districts receive grant funds from the state and the federal governments to help educate at-risk students and provide professional development to teachers. In the past year, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) decided to do a random, on-site review of Vicksburg Schools, to make sure the funds were being spent properly.
The review is a very strenuous and meticulous process. It began last summer when the school received notice by the MDE that it had been selected for a random review. The district spent months gathering a team of staff and parents to gather the expenditure documents, create a presentation of results, and prepare for a team from the state to interview teachers and administrators from Vicksburg Middle School and Sunset Elementary, along with district administrators.
The team was led by Gail Van Daff, director of curriculum and instruction, as well as Karen Hill, assistant to the superintendent. Much of the site work at VMS and Sunset was led by staff members Emily Proctor, Jesse Dekoning, and Mary Hess-Quinones.
In January, the team from the Department spent two days in the district, interviewing staff and administrators and poring over documents pertaining to how funds were spent and the results the district was getting. Team members went to both Sunset and VMS to see what was happening in person. The team then went back to Lansing to analyze the evidence it gathered and to provide a review.
“While all of the results of the review have not yet been released, the feedback provided by the state could not be more encouraging,” said Van Daff. Overall, Vicksburg is near the very top of the upper echelon of districts reviewed in terms of effectiveness of their expenditures, according to Van Daff. “The reviewers were very generous with their kind comments, including several personal accolades from MDE reviewers. In fact, one said that she would want to send her grandchildren to Vicksburg if she could. It was very heartwarming and encouraging to hear.”
Stephen Goss, assistant superintendent, was pleased, but not surprised, by the findings. “Our leadership team and staff members are not only fine educators but are very aware that public resources need to be spent effectively, whether that money is from local residents, state grants, or federal dollars. To me, this review is further confirmation that we are spending the taxpayers’ money as efficiently and effectively as possible. This is only possible with hours upon hours of hard work by all of the staff members involved. I couldn’t be more proud.”