June 8 2011 12:00 AM

J.W. Sexton High School, east entrance


Property: J.W. Sexton High School, east entrance. 102 S. McPherson Ave., Lansing

Owner: Lansing School District

Assessed value: $0

Owner says: Maintenance staff is “stretched thin”

Visitors walking into the east entrance
of Sexton High School are greeted this week by orange cones marking
caved-in steps, grass past the ankles, some graffiti and crumpled up
homework assignments — clear indications that school is out.

Beyond the broken steps is a strange
mow-job that Lansing District Schools spokesman Steve Serkaian said is
due to heavy rain from a few weeks back, causing the maintenance staff
to be “stretched thin” on such jobs. Instead of leaving it all long,
though, it looks like mowers made one pass along the edge of the
sidewalks but left the interior lawn shaggy.

As you approach the school, you’ll
encounter a rusted flag pole, a few ornamental grasses and woodchips
being overtaken by weeds, graffiti on the front porch and a few juice
boxes, old assignments and toilet paper littering the lawn.

Serkaian said maintenance issues like
these are not because of budget woes — that’s for next year — but
because a “backlog” of projects is accumulating.

“It’s part of the tremendous backlog of
deferred maintenance and infrastructure needs that the district has due
to lack of capital improvement funds,” he said, adding that the district
hopes the passing of the site sinking fund by voters last year will
remediate some of the problems.

A banner on the east-facing wall says “Celebrating 60 years of excellence,” which must be a credit to the academics and not the maintenance upkeep.