March 13 2013 12:00 AM

School board talks new bus routes, approves teacher contracts

Editor’s note: “On LSD” is City Pulse’s regular coverage of Lansing School District happenings.

Friday, Aug. 10 — Both parents and teachers can breathe a sigh of relief after the Lansing Board of Education meeting Thursday night.

Earlier this year, through district reconfiguration, both Eastern and Sexton high schools were changed to include seventh and eighth graders. The idea of having former middle-schoolers riding the buses with high school kids was a concern for parents, administrators and faculty.

“I spent a lot of time tossing and turning,” said Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul. “I lost sleep.” She said her nerves on putting pre-teens with near-adults grew as she heard more concerns from parents.

She called the proposed bus changes, which were outlined at the meeting by Brian Ralph, the district facilities manager, “Great news.”

Outlined in the proposal, Ralph said the start and end times for both schools would remain unchanged. But when and where students are picked up and dropped off would differ based on grade.

Each high school would have different buses for seventh and eighth graders than their older classmates, Ralph said. The pick-up and drop-off times for the grade groups are staggered by 15 minutes and they would have different bus stops to and from school.

The buses would be separately marked and students would be required to ride their grade-specific buses.

The additional costs would be “minimal,” Ralph said, approximately $10,000 to $15,000 in additional hours for drivers.

When Everett High School converts to the seventh through 12th grade model next year, the buses would likely be run the same way as Sexton, Caamal Canul said. Board member Shirley Rodgers and secretary Nicole Armbruster felt the drop off times would need reworking to give students adequate time to get to class. Ralph and Caamal Canul said the plan could be slightly tweaked before school starts.

The plan is up for board approval at a later date.

In other business, reports that after going into a lengthy, closed session, the board emerged with a 2012-2013 contract with the Lansing Schools Education Association, the district’s teachers union.

According to MLive, the contract includes no salary increases from last year but it adopts the 2011-2012 salary schedule, which was not used last year due to budget constraints. Each year an employee can move up a step in the salary schedule until they reach the top-tier and can receive a yearly percentage-based pay increase.

Both the administration and LSEA were pleased with the contract. Patti Seidl, LSEA president told MLive that dealing with the new administration under the watch of Caamal Canul is “100 percent different” than the relationships of the past. She said it was about “compromise” and “collaboration.”

The board approved the contract 7-1 with Armbruster casting the only no vote.