Lansing School Board Approves Eastern Turnaround Plan

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

Superintendent T.C. Wallace Jr. is optimistic about Eastern High School's future. His optimism comes from a 43 page plan of action.

"This plan is an opportunity for us to think differently, provide services to the students differently and we will have different results," said Wallace.

Thursday Eastern Principal Susan Land and a team comprised of Eastern teachers and Lansing school officials presented the final draft to the Board with small changes in employee evaluation and merit pay. After a nearly two hour dissection of the proposal, the vote was unanimous.

The plan has provisions that will change the way Eastern evaluates teachers. It also gives the option for an extended school day for students looking for additional credits or who are behind. The plan also has 17 half-days, 4 of which have mandatory time for the staff's professional development, 2 of which are for parent-teacher meetings and 11 more which can be used for school-related activities or optional time off. Another element of the plan creates a system where students are tracked by a faculty advisor for their four years at Eastern.

The plan will cost an estimated $800,000 to implement, but a lot of those funds could come from national and federal money. Terri Spencer, Chief Academic Officer for Lansing Schools, estimates that the plan will only require $200,000-$250,000 of general fund money if they receive the amount of outside support she thinks the plan can get.

Even with the Board's support, this isn't a done deal yet. Eastern's teachers still need to approve the latest draft, even though a vote on a previous draft gave it 70 percent support according to Jerry Swartz with the Lansing Schools Education Association. The teachers were voting Thursday and will wrap up on Friday. If they approve it, the state still needs to approve the overall plan on the basis of a strict rubric.

If the plan does go into action however, Spencer cautions that success won't come automatically.

"It can't be about just the school, it can't just be about the school district or the staff," said Spencer. "To go from good to great we need the community's help."

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