The Michigan Department of Education released its new reports for assessing school performance Tuesday and the Lansing School District found itself at the bottom of the list. That came as little surprise to the woman running the show.
"There's no question about it. Many of our schools are behind the rest of the state; We're in the bottom five percent," said Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul.
The new, color-coded system assesses schools based on how they meet goals and show improvement. The percentage of possible points attained is equivalent to a color level. Green is the highest, red is the lowest and lime, yellow and orange fall in between.
Eastern, J.W. Sexton and Everett High Schools all scored in the red section and were designated as priority schools -- those in the bottom five percent statewide.
"I think some people will look at these new designations and think that we're not doing a very good job in educating our children," said Caamal Canul. "I'm not going to worry about the new designations. Our direction is to move the needle on student achievement. That's what we're focused on."
Caamal Canul said the district is finally on solid financial footing and now can focus on performance. Its budget is balanced and there is money in its rainy day fund, she said.
Additionally, she says the area high schools are turning around, noting that once a school is placed on the priority list, it stays there for four years.
"People don't seem to understand, you cannot turn the boat around in the middle of the ocean in the middle of the night," she said. "It takes time to change direction.
"Would I like to see everybody be green? I'd love to see everybody be green. I'd be lying to you to say it didn't matter to me. Of course it matters to me. Can I do it overnight? I can't do it overnight. Did it happen overnight? It didn't happen overnight."
Some say there are signs that show little progress is being made. A company has been hired to evaluate the value of all property owned by the district. The city's financial health team recommended consolidating all of the area's high schools into one big school. Sparrow Hospital recently bought the property on which the closed Bingham Elementary School stood and is eyeing a lot north of Eastern High.
Caamal Canul counters that the property evaluation is a sign of wealth and says she doesn't think consolidation is best for the district, although she thinks a newer facility is.
And despite another poor performance report, Caamal Canul says she will not be closing any schools anytime soon.
"If the Education Achievement Authority ends up being the option for any of our schools, I will definitely consider closing them," she said. "They're not getting any of our schools in the Lansing School District."
And though she agrees parents may be concerned when they see the Accountability Report, Caamal Canul says parents should look at the big picture.
"A school is not measured by a single test on a single day," she said. "No one is going to these schools one day or two weeks out of the year, so these schools are being measured with an incredibly high stakes environment with a test that's being given on a single day.
"Children go to school to socialize to learn skills that give them a lifelong love of learning, to interact with a cultural environment of the community they live in. There are many reasons children go to school. A test, MEAP, MME or otherwise is not the reason why parents send their kids to school."