Excuse me, are you listening? 15-2
Sunday, February 7, 2016

 Dear Readers,

 
There are so many changes that are going on and after having a conversation with my daughter, I realized that she has been deeply affected by the sale of Eastern High School’s building.  She expressed that she will not be able to recreate the memories that were made there somewhere else.  I explained to her that these things happen and I would do a little more research so that we would have it for her. I told her to make the memories where she could.
 
I just recently visited my high school and was grateful to have that opportunity.  However, I guess that things change and we have to do our best to deal with the outcome.  Everyone understands that obtaining a good education is important for the success of a city.  We need to do a better job of understanding why voting for millages are important.  Schools are important so vote “yes”.  
 
Gag Order on Promoting Voting “yes”?
 
Under the law – Senate Bill 571, now Public Act 269 – school boards, municipalities, police, fire and other public bodies cannot contact voters directly for up to 60 days prior to the election. 
 
Public Act 269 of 2015, has generated a lot of controversy in many areas. However, the area of most concern to schools is this last provision:
"Except for an election official in the performance of his or her duties under the Michigan election law, 1954 PA 116, MCL 168.1 to 168.992, a public body, or a person acting for a public body, shall not, during the period 60 days before an election in which a local ballot question appears on a ballot, use public funds or resources for a communication by means of radio, television, mass mailing, or prerecorded telephone message if that communication references a local ballot question and is targeted to the relevant electorate where the local ballot question appears on the ballot."
 
In fact, school boards cannot inform voters how bond or millage money will be used during the 60 days prior to.  
I cannot even think about what will happen if the bond does not pass.  According to a press release,  the Lansing School District Board of Education has formally approved a ballot resolution to allow school district voters to consider a $120 million Lansing Pathway Promise bond to support facility upgrades and improvements on a May 3, 2016 election ballot.  Which means that in March, 60 days prior to the vote, no information can be disseminated.  School boards will have to figure out some other way to get information out to the public without using public money.
 
School districts will have difficulty getting the information out to voters this year, so be more vigilant in getting information out to friends and neighbors.   Schools are used to educating the public and this new provision  is definitely going to be challenging.
 
The End of an Era?  Eastern High School building has been sold to Sparrow Hospital
 
The Lansing School District Board of Education unanimously voted to sell the Lansing Eastern High School building, 220, N. Pennsylvania Ave., to Sparrow Hospital.  Some people think this is a very good thing and some people do not like it at all.  Current and former Eastern High School students are upset about the sale.  Some wonder why the building couldn’t be restored.  The Eastern High School Alumni Association was also hoping to keep the building as a historical landmark.  
 
Lansing School  District administration and school board believe remodeling Pattengill to make it into the new Eastern High School building is the best option for students.  Plans include remodeling Fairview School into a middle school and renovations to other Lansing School District properties as well.  The sale of Eastern to Sparrow included a five year “rent-free” lease.  That gives the school district time to develop new plans if the bond for reconstructing Pattengill and Fairview does not pass this year.  
 
The school district's website states that the rating agency Standard and Poor’s has rated the Lansing School District proposed bonds AA-, an upgrade of two levels from grade A on existing debt.
 
“This is a very exciting time for the Lansing school district and it’s important for the public to know that taxpayer money will be wisely invested in a very strategic way to ensure that all of our schools will be ready for future generations of students. Good school facilities improve property values and greatly enhance the quality of life in any community,” said Lansing School District Board of Education president Peter Spadafore. “I’m also thrilled to see that Wall Street recognizes that the Lansing School District is financially sound with an increasing fund balance, low debt ratio and a conservative and balanced budget.”
 
A healthy community, is an educated community.  Even if you send your children outside of the school district, we all have a responsibility to help our city raise a healthy and happy pool of students.
 
Love people,
 
 
Rina Risper
 
This was printed in the February 7, 2016 - February 20, 2016 edition.
 

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