High Schoolers Likely to Lose Open Lunch

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The decades-old open lunch policy for Lansing's public high schools is likely done for after administrators negotiated a tentative agreement with teachers to shorten students' lunch periods and keep them on campus.

Lansing Superintendent E. Sharon Banks, who proposed eliminating open-campus lunch for high school freshmen at the beginning of her tenure, is making the renewed push. She says the district "can't afford to continue to go" in the direction it's going.

That direction has concerned some living next to Lansing's three public high schools for some time. Neighbors described watching high schoolers urinate on neighbors' lawns, smoke cigarettes and illegal drugs and otherwise vandalize private property during the open lunch period.

Lansing Police Capt. Ray Hall is supporting the change. He says it's a small number of students causing trouble, and ending open campus should eliminate it.

But some students see it as punishment for the few applied to the whole. Rising Eastern High School senior Cheyenne Lindsey says the current hourlong lunch is a needed break.

The plan between adminstrators and union leaders would shorten that to a half-hour period. It would move the start of the school day back to 7:20 a.m. and the end of the day back to 2:10 p.m. Lindsey's mother, middle school teacher Rebecca Lindsey-Kennedy, says that will be a problem for teenagers.

"They're more noctural," she said.

Other concerns include what some parents see as a rush to change policy. They accuse the district of inviting them to discuss and issue that's already been decided.

But the district says its three high school principals will work with students to make the changes bearable -- changes that, at this point, are likely to take place come the new school year on September 5.