Lansing School Board approves contract extension for superintendent

Peter Spadafore to the left, Yvonne Caamal Canul center.

Peter Spadafore to the left, Yvonne Caamal Canul center.

LANSING — The School Board unanimously voted to extend current Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul’s contract through 2018 at its Oct. 16 meeting.

Board Secretary Veronica Wood refused to release details of the contract and insisted that a Freedom of Information Act request be filed. However, the district issued a press release on Oct. 16 saying that Canul would not receive an increase in pay from her current $180,000 annual salary.

Board President Peter Spadafore said before the vote that the contract extension would give the board a “solid number of years to focus on a consistent vision and leadership.” Then, speaking for himself, he said that he was pleased being able to extend the contract.

Board member Amy Hodgin voted yes but then asked why the contract was being extended now, when the current contract runs through 2015.

“We determined after the start of the school year that it was important to the district to demonstrate that there was consistency in the leadership and that the board was supportive of that consistency to go ahead and extend the contract,” Spadafore said in response to Hodgin’s question.

Canul’s executive assistant, Janelle Jenkins, said the superintendent was too busy to respond to questions about her goals through 2018.

Spadafore said Canul was providing good leadership for the district.

“(Canul’s) got some very good ideas; she’s working on a cohesive district strategy so that education around Lansing makes sense,” Spadafore said. “So that everyone across the district has the same educational experience, the same good educational experience.

“We’ve also seen for the first time since 2001, enrollment has stabilized in the district.”

Taxi driver and Lansing resident Chris Gathof said he supports the decision to extend Canul’s contract if she can perform the required duties. Gathof provided a few things he would like to see changed throughout the district.

“I would like to see far less school violence in schools and a very big crackdown on bullying,” Gathof said.

“As a cab driver, I sometimes drive children to school. The amount of books that these children carry has to somehow create medical problems for some,” Gathof said. “I would like to see a way that those books can be digitized into a format that a actual hardback is no longer required.”


Bullying: Underreported or overrated?

By Asha Johnson
The Lansing Star

LANSING — Bullying isn’t taken lightly in the Lansing School District, but according to Dr. M.J. Garcia, there have been some misunderstandings of what bullying is and what it isn’t.

Garcia is a recently retired educator who taught middle and high school in the Lansing School District and also taught at the college level. He said that when it comes to bullying, there is nothing new under the sun.

“After having 30 years of education up under my belt, I have seen all types of bullying, so believe me when I say bullying isn’t overrated because there are so many forms of it,” said Garcia.

There are several levels of consequences that students in the Lansing schools have to undergo if they are accused of bullying, but people differ in their opinions of what the word bullying really means.

A question that arose several times at the Lansing School Board meeting on Oct. 16 was how to differentiate between someone being bullied and someone being over-sensitive.

“It is said that often times students don’t report that they are bullied because they are afraid, but that is no longer my concern,” said Lansing’s Board of Education Vice President Myra Ford. “My concern is for the students who may joke around with others and become labeled as a bully for something that wasn’t intended to do any harm.”


Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul and President Peter Spadafore at a recent Lansing School Board meeting. Photo by Asha Johnson.

Bullying, Garcia said, is situational and conditional. If a friend comes up to you and pushes you, you might think he or she is joking around, but it’s different if someone who you aren’t well acquainted with shoves you to the ground. They are the same action but one is bullying and one is not, depending on the interpretation and/or circumstance.

“You must be completely clear on the reaction of the recipient and intent of the giver when it comes to bullying,” said Garcia in a phone interview.
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Lansing school district tackles bullying


Story 5 photo

Director of Student Services Susan Land (pictured right) gives the the PACE bullying report at the Oct 16 Lansing School Board meeting. Photo by Chloe Huard.

By Chloe Huard
The Lansing Star

LANSING – The Lansing school district is taking further steps this school year to combat bullying.

The Lansing School Board discussed bullying within the school district at its Oct. 16 meeting, as well as the new programs that will be put into place to prevent it.

“It is a national issue that has garnered a lot of attention, and rightfully so,” Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul said.

The bullying report was given by Director of Student Services Susan Land. It highlighted the district’s definition of bullying, the steps that are taken by schools to resolve a bullying situation and the overall bullying trends within schools.

“People don’t necessarily see bullying in the same way, which is one of the problems with bullying,” Land said. “What one person views as a bullying incident someone else may not see it the same way. That does cause some problems across our district, across the state and across the nation.”

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City Council confirms new representative for airport authority

By Connor Hansen
The Lansing Star

LANSING — The Lansing City Council voted unanimously to confirm the appointment of John Shaski to be Lansing’s representative to the Capital Region Airport Authority at their meeting Monday, Oct 14.

Shaski, currently a government relations officer at Sparrow Health System,will become a member of a board with representatives from both Lansing and Ingham County. This will be a term lasting until Sept. 30, 2018.

Shaski said the airport is a major asset to the community with state government, Michigan State University and major national companies close by.

Shaski knows the importance of the airport first hand, frequently traveling for business and racking up about 80,000 miles per year.

“I’m a frequent traveler and recognize that it’s a valued community asset in the region. By nature and by profession, I’m an advocate for the airport,” Shaski said.

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Lansing City Council after voting to confirm.

He has always been interested in public service. “I’ve always been interested in getting more involved in local and city issues, and I worked closely with the Mayor’s office in my profession,” Shaski said.

“The board oversees the operations of the airport, and it’s a joint board made up of members appointed by the city of Lansing, who are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council,” said Chris Swope, Lansing city clerk. Continue reading


Schuette considered favorite for reelection

By Connor Hansen
The Lansing Star

LANSING — In the upcoming election for Michigan’s attorney general, incumbent Bill Schuette appears to some to be the heavy favorite. Schuette, a Republican, was elected in 2010 and is now running for reelection.

Former political science professor and political consultant Paul Conn has lived in the Lansing area for 67 years and said “I can’t think of one attorney general, who was an incumbent, who got defeated. When there are open seats it’s different, they have a chance, but when there’s an incumbent running it’s kind of tough.”

The Director of Public Affairs of the Attorney General, Rusty Hills said “Bill has a strong record and he is running on his record.” Schuette has done some high profile work in the last four years giving him good publicity, according to Hills. He said that he is known for forming a commission on human trafficking, school safety programs and pushing to have more police officers on the streets.

“We will make a difference right here in Lansing,” Hills said. “If we could get more cops on the street here in Lansing, we can get more jobs, if people feel safer in downtown Lansing, there will be more people moving in and more businesses opening up.”

Hills said that Schuette would like to get 1,000 more police officers on the street in Michigan and that “We will never have a full economic recovery in Michigan until everyone is safe in their neighborhoods, homes and schools.” Continue reading


Decision on LeRoy’s parking lot tabled until Nov. 5

By Ryan Squanda
The Lansing Star

The decision on whether to allow LeRoy Cardwell, owner of LeRoy’s Classic Bar and Grill, to expand his restaurant’s parking lot onto the property at 1521 Herbert Street, has been tabled for the next Lansing Committee on Development and Planning meeting on Nov. 5.

Cardwell, who after recent renovations to his restaurant has found himself tight on parking, is looking to alleviate these issues with the recently purchased property behind his bar. However, Kevin Henry, who lives adjacent to the 1521 property at 1517 Herbert Street, feels this would infringe upon his property and lesser the value of his home.

The current day view from Henry's driveway after the previous buffer zone has been taken out, replaced with parking. The grass is where LeRoy hopes to further expand his parking lot.

The current day view from Henry’s driveway after the previous buffer zone has been taken out, replaced with parking. The grass is where LeRoy hopes to further expand his parking lot.

After pleading their respective cases to the Lansing City Council on Monday Oct. 13, both Cardwell and Henry met two days later to present their arguments once again to the Lansing Committee of Development and Planning. Continue reading


Cameron Tool looks for tax break for expansion

By Josh Thall
The Lansing Star

Lansing- Cameron Tool Corporation’s application for a tax break was referred to the City of Lansing’s Development and Planning Committee, after public comments about the project were heard during the Lansing City Council meeting on Monday.

City council president A'Lynne Boles and City Clerk Chris Swopes listen to public comments during the city council meeting on Monday. Photo Credit Josh Thall.

City council president A’Lynne Boles and City Clerk Chris Swopes listen to public comments during the city council meeting on Monday. Photo Credit Josh Thall.

Cameron Tool builds and repairs dies that cold form steel for the automotive industry and has been part of the Lansing community since 1966. The company is seeking a tax abatement  to expand its facilities.

Cameron Tool, President Tracy Selden said the company has chosen to expand now because of its backlog of sales.

“We need to stay ahead of the capacity curve,” Selden said. “Rather than get caught behind it.” Continue reading


A bar walks into a guy

By Ryan Squanda
The Lansing Star

Take a walk outside Kevin Henry’s home at 1517 Herbert Street in Lansing and you will see the abandoned property which has worried Henry for the last two months.

Specifically what worries Henry when he steps outside his home is the abandoned property that has just been purchased by the owner of LeRoy’s Classic Bar and Grill, LeRoy Cardwell.

Cardwell, whose restaurant sits directly behind both Henry’s and the adjacent property, bought the land in May in hopes expanding his parking lot, which he says isn’t big enough to serve his growing number of patrons. Continue reading


Lansing gallery showcases Michigan artists

Chloe Huard
The Lansing Star

LANSING – Nestled between two large buildings in downtown Lansing, the Lansing Art Gallery can be spotted by its distinctive entrance made entirely of colored tiles. The gallery boasts an equally interesting feature: All of the pieces are created by Michigan artists.

Established in 1965, the Lansing Art Gallery is approaching its 50th anniversary. Executive Director Barb Whitney said the three main goals of the gallery are awareness, education and enjoyment of art.

“The Lansing Art Gallery is a non-profit organization with a mission to showcase works of Michigan artists,” Whitney said.

The exhibition at the gallery this month is titled “Of Consequences: Industry & Surrounds”. Created by Sarah Lindley and Norwood Viviano, the pieces include sculptures and prints that represent the influence of industry on communities.

“It’s a little bit different for us. It’s quite contemporary,” said Sara Pulver, the gallery coordinator. “The entire exhibit is topographical.”

The exhibit depicts several aerial views of the land surrounding factories. The sculptures vary in their construction. Some have been created with recycled Kohler products, like sinks. Others have been cut from aluminum with the landscape of Detroit on top.

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Thomas Morgan hopes to bring accountability to everyone involved in the school district

By Josh Thall
The Lansing Star

Lansing School Board candidate Thomas Morgan puts a sign in a supporters yard.

Lansing School Board candidate Thomas Morgan puts a sign in a supporters yard.

Editors note: This November, voters in Lansing will elect three School Board members from a ballot of seven candidates; including two members who are looking to be reelected. Among the main issues in this election are enrollment, school district perception and student achievement.

Incumbents Shirley M. Rodgers and Guillermo Z. Lopez are seeking reelection while the third member whose term is up, Charles Ford, will not be running for another term.

The challengers are: Bryan Beverly, S. Joy Gleason, Thomas Patrick Morgan, Julee Rodocker and Randy Watkins.

Each school board member that gets elected will serve a six year term.

Lansing– Lansing School Board candidate Thomas Patrick Morgan took to the streets

“This is grassroots campaigning, right here,” Morgan said. “This is what I know how to do, the school district and all levels of government need to do a better job of listening to the ideas of regular people.”

Morgan, 34, who now lives on the southwest side of Lansing, was born and schooled in Grand Rapids, Mich. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University.

Morgan is now a communications consultant for MESSA, which is the Michigan Education Special Services Association. As a communications consultant he helps communicate important information about health, wellness and health plan usage to MESSA members, through communication channels such as member newsletters and social media.

Morgan said that he has been working in education policy for about seven years, advocating for the value of public schools. When his first son was born nine months ago he decided he wanted to get more involved. He wants to make sure his son and other children in Lansing get the best possible education so they can be prepared for college and the workplace.

Morgan said one of the things that sets him apart from some of the other candidates is he has an education policy background.
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