Will Closing Sexton or Eastern Fix the District's Problems?

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Four years ago, David Hollister led the Lansing School District's right-sizing committee. Now , with a proposal to close either Sexton or Eastern High School on the table, Hollister made a comparison of the two buildings.

"Eastern High School is located just adjacent to the Sparrow Hospital complex. The marketability of that place is probably higher than the marketability of Sexton," Hollister said.

Being the oldest high school in the district, Eastern is also in need of some serious repairs.

However, Hollister says closing Eastern could mean losing the only International Baccalaureate program in mid-Michigan, and although Sexton is newer, it also has its own share of renovation that needs to be done.

"You either invest in massive rehab of old buildings or you build an adequate new facility that can compete with the surrounding districts," Hollister said.

In other words, he believes closing one school won't fix the problems. He is calling on the district to revisit his committee's proposal from 2008. That is, to close Sexton, Eastern and Everett and build a brand new high school.

Furthermore, should the district move foward with closing either Sexton or Eastern, Hollister thinks it won't be the end.

"They're going to continue to lose students...in three to five years, they'll be back closing another and they'll be right back in the same spot," Hollister said.

According Lansing School Board Member Charles Ford, building one larger, cutting edge facility will be expensive and will take a lot of time to accomplish. That's time the district cannot afford since it needs a solution to budget problems and falling student enrollment now. Furthermore, each high school is themed and closing any one will mean losing something unique to that school.

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