By Jason Dovitz
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
On Jan. 23, the Board of Education passed a resolution to support the Feb. 28 bond issue and confirm its commitment to reducing the number of elementary schools by closing Red Cedar Elementary by 2016.
The resolution was intended to ensure the closing of Red Cedar whether the bond passes or not.
Liesel Carlson, who has a daughter in third grade and a son in kindergarten at Red Cedar Elementary, said she doesn’t believe that the school is for sure closing.
“If the bond doesn’t pass, then the only money available is the $6 million in the sinking fund and I have a hard time believing they would use this money to build a new wing.,” Carlson said.
If the $53 million bond proposal passes, it will lead to many changes in East Lansing Public Schools, such as reconfiguration of grade levels to form five K-5 schools and making MacDonald Middle School a 6-8 school.
Carlson said a citizens committee and architects evaluated the elementary schools and then ranked them one through six. Red Cedar wa sthird and Glencairn and Whitehills were fifth and sixth respectively, Carlson said.
“The residents in the Glencairn and Whitehills community were very vocal, rallied together and said you can’t close our school, so instead they chose to close Red Cedar Elementary,” Carlson said.
Red Cedar Elementary has many international students and is in a much smaller neighborhood than the other schools. Carlson said she chose to send her kids to Red Cedar because she loved the international and global programs it has.
In his letter to district residents, Superintendent David Chapin said that “regardless of the bond election results, Red Cedar will no longer operate as an elementary school in the long term.” He said most Red Cedar students and staff will move to Glencairn School.
Carlson said there’s no way the district can move all the students to Glencairn. She said the international students and kids around Glencairn will for sure go there, but other parents will have to go to a different school and there are no guarantees they will be together.
Chapin said the bond proposal and this resolution is all about investing in education. Carlson said she is all for that.
“I support investment in education and I could support new buildings, if warranted, but not all five,” Carlson said.
Carlson said the process has been extremely disruptive for the community and has even taken a toll on her daughter. She said a lot of the families don’t even know all the details.
“Whenever you mess with a person’s money or their children, you get trouble. And this issue messes with both,” Carlson said.
Red Cedar Elementary school is at 1110 Narcissus, East Lansing, and is just adjacent to Michigan State University. The district covers all of East Lansing and parts of Lansing, Lansing Township and Meridian Township.