Task Force Recommends New Lansing High School

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A school district task force is recommending a new high school in Lansing.

Under the recommendations, reported to the school board by an 11-member team Thursday, Pattengill Middle School would be expanded to accommodate a high school.

"We think that that should resonate to the community that that is a very fiscally-responsible plan," said Kellie Dean, co-chair of the task force that's worked for months to come up with a plan. "What our kids need is a new high school overall, but we believe that Lansing doesn't need one mega-high school."

None of Lansing's other high schools would close. Instead, two would be turned into specialized learning campuses.

Eastern High School, because of its proximity to Sparrow Hospital, would adopt a curriculum more focused on health professions. Sexton High School would focus on science, technology and IT.

"This whole presentation tonight was not about closing any building," said Dean. "We're going to recreate both Sexton and Eastern into specialized schools that their history and traditions will continue.

The task force formed in October, commissioned with looking at the best use of the district's buildings. The Lansing School District covers more than 52 square miles -- the fifth largest in Michigan.

Its plan, members say, will create a 21st-century education for its students while de-acquiring, maximizing and re-purposeing some buildings to cut costs. A number of parcels and properties will be looked at for liquidation.

The task force visited seven different schools to come up with its plan to attract students, not just retain them, though it hopes to do things differently than neighboring districts.

Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul says she's sold on the recommendations and hopes to move forward with a strategic action plan as soon as possible. She hopes the recommendations can be approved at the next meeting.

There is no cost estimate at this point. Funding is expected to come from bonds, which the task force says will be an easy thing to sell to voters because of the perks of the plan.

If approved, the district would hope to secure funding by August 2015.

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