Schools of choice: Change & challenge

It’s been about two decades since Michigan adopted Schools of Choice. The program is one of several responses to funding and quality issues. See how Schools of Choice decisions are made in Ingham County, and how choices over 20 years have affected the county’s 12 public school districts.

Changes coming to Downtown Okemos

Ace Hardware and Mitten Raised Bakery are few of many businesses in Downtown Okemos that have now closed, leaving the area lifeless and uninhabited. Bottoms Up dancewear shop is one of the last businesses still afloat, but not for much longer. “It just seemed like a good time to go. It was such a hard decision to leave our lovely customers, but after working so many long hours all these years, it is time for a new adventure,” Bottoms Up owner, Sherry Fisher, said. After 40 years, Fisher will be moving to Florida to start a new life.

A Student Election that No One Knows About

There’s an election going on right now and for a radio station and a newspaper, this election couldn’t be more important. 

“Having a newspaper cover 50,000 plus people in our community is really important and to have a staff that is dedicated to just relevant things to the MSU community is really important,” State News Managing Editor, McKenna Ross, said. 

The State News is asking for a two dollar and fifty cents increase in order to continue to improve their work and give students the opportunity to try something new. “An educational opportunity and work opportunity for journalism and media people to try out print and onlIne journalism and it’s been a really good experience,” Ross said. 

At just three dollars, Impact 89F is requesting a tax renewal. Impact 89F Assistant Station Manager, Olivia Mitchell, said this tax keeps their station running. “We are really volunteer heavy and we like to be able to move people up when they have put in the work. Just to have all the supplies that people need, resources, and all that money goes to doing just that,” she said.

A Life Without Plastic Straws

Plastic straws are everywhere and there’s talk of getting rid of them. Recycling Center Operations Manager, Sean Barton, thinks its a good first step. “They’re designed for single use,” Barton said. “It ends up on the side of the road or on the land fill and we don’t really know how long it takes to break down.” 

But that one single use might be important to people who live in retirement communities such as Burcham Hills. 

Burcham Hills dining room attendant, Chama Maweja, says this facility definitely needs straws. “I don’t think we can work efficiently without them,” she said.

BWL approves natural gas plant; environmentalists disagree

Lansing’s Board of Water and Light approved a $500 million natural gas plant that environmentalists argue should have been a renewable energy plant. During the BWL’s regular board meeting on March 27, board members gave final approval to replace the coal-powered Erickson Power Plant with a gas-fired power plant. The plant, which is expected to be completed by 2021, will reduce BWL carbon emissions by 80 percent. Although the BWL is working to rely less on coal, environmentalists worry about the impact fracking has on the groundwater. Hydraulic fracking extracts natural gas by using high pressure liquids to blast target rock formations apart.

Lansing community seeks initiatives to promote school safety

The Lansing Community is implementing new ways to promote safety within their school districts. With recent headlines involving mass school shootings and gun violence, students, parents and faculty members would like to see changes within their communities. Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said Lansing is taking a stand on gun violence to promote a safer community for children. “So one of the things we instituted after the Parkland shooting in Florida is the ‘Sheriff Safer School Initiative’,” said Wriggelsworth. “What that really revolves around is having our deputies carve out an hour or two out of their workweek to spend in a school that they’re assigned.

Shabbazz Academy is a hidden gem in Lansing

Off of Martin Luther King highway in Lansing is Shabazz Public School Academy (SPSA). A charter dedicated to giving students the basic learning skills in reading, writing and math along with so much more. Shabazz Public School Academy is named after Ell Hajj Malik El Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X. The school’s focus is providing an Afrocentric learning experience to its students and empowering them while they’re getting ready to move on to the next level. Many of the students are proud to be receiving such a great opportunity from SPSA. “You can get a great education and learn more than you usually do at different kinds of schools,” said Christopher Isaac, an SPSA student.

IM buildings to be renovated

The seeds are planted inside IM West. Brand new artificial turf is being rolled out and it’s the first time being replaced in the past 46 years. IM Sports director, Joel Eddy, says the changes are long overdue. “The surface is very thin which was a tripping hazard,” said Eddy. Changes aren’t only coming to the floor, but the rafters too.