Category Archives: Education

School of Choice




Michigan’s School of Choice law has aided East Lansing High School’s recent success but is causing problems for neighboring cities.

East Lansing schools offer well a rounded curriculum that includes a good athletic program, comprehensive academics and several extra-curricular activities. Finding education like that has been rarely seen at public schools. This appeal of a better education is drawing students from neighboring cities to transfer from there hometown schools to ELHS. This boost in enrollment is putting ELHS above other local high schools and is boosting its budget as well as many individual awards for students.

The ruling of School of Choice was made by the state of Michigan in 1996, but individual districts have the option on whether to allow out of districts students into their schools. With this rule of open enrollment a student that resides in the Lansing district has the ability to enroll at ELHS. The application is simple a student would just have to indicate name, grade, address, district of residence, and whether there have been suspensions or expulsions.

The City Pulse, a local paper, did an article on September 10, 2003 that researched how local schools were doing since Schools of Choice was enacted by the State Legislation. The 2002-2003 Ingham County School District research in the chart below, shows that the biggest winner is East Lansing and its neighboring city, Lansing, is on the losing side. In the article student Sofia Maystrenko explained how life is since she transferred out of the Lansing School district and is now having much more success at ELHS. She feels that the students at ELHS are more accepting of her and her hobbies and believes that she will have better success at her new school.

With East Lansing leading the pack of students enrolled in their district one can understand why the education infrastructure is doing so well. Good high scoring students who might have gone to a Lansing school are now choosing to attend an East Lansing school. Those students are boosting East Lansing’s credibility and in turn leading more students from other districts to transfer into East Lansing. It’s a cycle that builds up one district but punishes the others.

Last year ELHS was honored with many awards. They have a National Merit semi-finalist. There are many students that have earned Advanced Placement awards. Then at the end of last year ELHS was picked by US News and World Report to receive a Silver Award, marking ELHS as among the top 3 percent of all high schools in the country.

ELHS Principal Paula Steele is very proud of what her teachers and students have

accomplished in the past few years. The school district and the city is being recognized

for their efforts in bettering education.

Current students that live outside the district are the best source to understanding why they chose ELHS. Ben Barkman a senior lives in Lansing but attends ELHS. His reasoning for attending school in East Lansing was that his sister really wanted to go to ELHS so he just followed her but says, “I would have made the same decision all over again because I love ELHS, our sports everything just makes it a great place to go to school.”

Then there is ELHS senior Melissa Johnson. Johnson grew up in East Lansing and lived on Lexington Ave. until 7th grade, where her family decided to move to a country home in Alaidon Township. Johnson and her family had to decide what school district her and her sister would attend. The decision was between East Lansing, Okemos and Mason. The choice was easy for Johnson because Mason was 2.5 miles farther and didn’t have the reputation in academics that ELHS had and Okemos is perceived as not being friendly to out-of-district students. Johnson said she considers herself spoiled because she got to stay at ELHS and receive a great education that she knows has prepared her for college. She adds, “East Lansing has become a part of me and my family.”

On the other side of the story is the Lansing school district which understands it has a problem but has no current solution. Every year the city is losing hundreds of students and millions of dollars because they cannot compete with neighboring, East Lansing when it comes to education. From what students have said, in order for Lansing to compete with East Lansing they might what to integrate specialty classes like foreign languages and AP classes and improve their athletics.


School Of Choice

Parents in Lansing Township have a choice when it comes to their children’s education, and some school districts like Waverly Community Schools are benefiting from being one of their options.

According to the Michigan Department of Education website, School of Choice gives students the option to choose where they attend school. Through this state law, families can enroll their students in a school outside of the district in which they reside. Once a student is accepted to a school through school of choice, they can stay in that district until they graduate from high school or decide to leave.

School districts do not have to participate in School of Choice.

Continue reading School Of Choice

Branch School being restored

“Branch School District No. 4”, once known as “Little Africa”, stands at the corner of Branch and Sherwood roads in Williamstown Township.

The Williamstown Township Historical Committee and community volunteers are restoring the white, one-room schoolhouse, originally built in 1863.

Continue reading Branch School being restored

Perry Public Schools consider consolidation

   As Michigan’s economy continues to decline, many are moving away to find something better. As families leave, so do their kids and school enrollments are dwindling and small districts are getting smaller. As school funding dwindles because of the loss of students, districts are considering ways to save money. Many districts have considered the idea of consolidating with another district, or at least sharing services.

   By sharing the costs of services such as maintenance, transportation, food service and administration, districts hope to save enough money to get by until the economy rebounds or another baby boom occurs. Continue reading Perry Public Schools consider consolidation

Online Resources Important Part of Meridian Schools

Two library officials are making an effort to keep the public aware of the electronic resources at its disposal.

Sandy Fields, the Library Media Director at Okemos High School, and Cyndi Webster, Library Media Director at Chippewa and Kinawa middle schools, recently spoke at a school board meeting in an effort to make both board members and the parents and students that are a part of the Okemos school district aware of the available online resources.

“The presentation to the board was to let them know what this information is, why it is important, and how instruction to use it takes place,” Fields said. “After all, they are the ones who create the budget that allows us to purchase the membership to REMC.”

Continue reading Online Resources Important Part of Meridian Schools

Literacy Pilot at Lockwood Elementary

Eaton Rapids schools are developing programs to help special needs children learn to read and become more efficient in their studies. One program in particular, the Literacy Pilot at Lockwood Elementary School, works with the Eaton Intermediate School District to help children in first-fourth grades learn how to read better and prepare themselves for future educational opportunities.

The program was first proposed in November 2007 and is in the preliminary stages of testing students to see how they are progressing in their studies. “On-going testing is occurring with kids that are showing signs that they are at risk for or already are below grade level,” said Director of Curriculum for the Eaton Rapids School District, Judy Foss.

Continue reading Literacy Pilot at Lockwood Elementary

Strategic Plan Improves Education, Communication and Character

Waverly Community Schools 2006-2007 Strategic Planning Update, presented to the board of education in June of 2007 shows that the Waverly school district has progressed in the past year in curriculum, communication but falls short in their plan of increasing diversity throughout the school system.

The Strategic Plan started in 1995 as a five-year project in order to improve the education of students in the school district. After the first phase, the Strategic Plan was adopted in May of 2006.

Wavlery Board of Education Treasurer Calvin Jones feels that the Strategic Plan will help members of the community see how the school is developing. Jones feels that the Strategic Plan makes the Waverly district unique.

“All of the community had a different vision of why we were unique,” said Jones. “This puts everybody on a level playing field.”

Mary Ann Martin, a Waverly school district board of education trustee, said that she thought the Strategic Plan was very effective. “It’s a wonderful thing,” said Martin. “It offers us a guide to help direct the district.”

Waverly Superintendent Tom Pillar said that the goal of the Strategic Plan is to develop systems throughout the district that will help students learn and faculty teach.

The Strategic Plan outlines a plan to help students to “achieve personally challenging educational goals… demonstrate the ability to think, problem solve, communicate and apply social and technological skills… [And] the percentage of students who meet or exceed the state standard on all areas tested in the Michigan Educational Assessment will increase annually.”

The plan outlines a four-step strategy to achieve the goals of the plan: Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment; Communications; Diversity and Character Development.

“We don’t want to establish one plan,” said Pillar, “and establish another. Then we would make more [plans] and it would never end. The goal is to see four overall strategies acculturated in the organization so that they are automatic.”

The Curriculum Instruction and Assessment focuses on improving students’ performance on the MEAP test through online practice tests provided by Study Island, a company focused on developing educational computer programs that prepare students for standardized tests.

The Communications step will work to improve communication throughout the school districts. According to the plan, schools will implement an online system called Study Buddy. By improving communication through a Waverly Intranet system, the district will increase efficiency between officials.

The school district will also work to increase awareness and respect for diversity throughout the district in the third step of the Strategic Plan. The plan will offer diversity celebrations, as well as hiring a more diverse staff.

The final step is Character Development, which focuses on the evaluation of individual students traits, encouraging members of the community to support these character traits and hold faculty members to that standard. The plan calls for creating Student code of conduct, a Relay for Life team and a non violent crisis prevention program.

Halfway through the project, Waverly Community Schools has seen a great improvement to their educational programs. According to the Strategic Planning Update for the 2006-07 school year, the district has met all their goals for curriculum, diversity and character development. But they have not been able to reach their goals for communication. The report also says that they are working to increase diverse representation in Waverly’s staff.

Pillar said that the Strategic Plan helps the school district control their future. Pillar believes that more schools will develop their own strategic plans. “The environment for education is very unstable right now,” said Pillar. “And that comes from the state, because of necessary cuts that are unforeseen.”

Assistant Superintendent Jacklin Blodgett feels that overall the plan is successful. With only two and a half years completed, the plan “helps bring together the community to work on improving school. It gives us a direction.”