On May 2, the future of East Lansing’s elementary students will be voted on. A bond proposed by the East Lansing Public School system would borrow $93,770,000 to be repaid through property taxes. The money would go toward the renovation of six elementary schools and to improve education district wide.
Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing supports the bond.
“East Lansing is, to me, two things: we’re the city of arts and we’re the city of education,” Schertzing said.
“This is really a conclusion of a 20-year strategic master plan that has re-done the high school, and the middle school and the final piece, the big piece at the end, is the elementary schools that all of our children in the East Lansing Public Schools have a quality environment in which to work,” he said.
As county treasurer, he acknowledged that the bond is big. However, he said that once all residents have a full understanding of what, and why, the bond is being proposed, it would succeed. He continued that the biggest reason for residents to oppose it would be a lack of information and knowledge.
Acting Superintendent Dori Leyko said school officials are focused on informing the public.
Their goal is to provide community members with as much information as possible so well-informed decisions can be made on the bond proposal, Leyko wrote in an email.
If the bond passes, five local elementary schools and the Red Cedar Elementary school, that was closed down three years ago, would be renovated to give students what is being dubbed a 21st century education.
Donley, Glencairn, Marble, Pinecrest, and Whitehills, would all be rebuilt on the current sites, and Red Cedar Elementary School would be remodeled for early childhood education with as many as seven elementary classrooms. The new facilities would support 21st century learning and better meet the diverse needs of all elementary students, Leyko wrote in an email.
“Our elementary schools were built between 1948 and 1963,” said School Board Member Erin Graham. “They were built for a factory-style education. They’re deteriorating.”
Graham described 21st century education as giving students the space to move around.
There is talk of a divide between residents.
“There’s always going to be naysayers against taxes or paying for a school that they don’t have children in,” Schertzing said. “Some don’t like the school of choice population.”
According to the East Lansing Public Schools bond facts write up, property taxes would increase approximately $7.50 per month for every $100,000 in market value of a home.
The student populations would need to move to another building for a school year. Red Cedar would be renovated to be a holding school, and then a new Donley Elementary would be built. The current Donley building would then also be able to be a temporary holding school, so that we would be able to have all new and renovated buildings in operation by the fall of 2021, wrote Leyko in an email.
City officials will continue to listen to the public through community forums in the months leading up to the vote.