Oct. 1 2015 12:55 AM

Public asking questions as deadline approaches on millage proposal

This chart, included in last night’s committee presentation, breaks down proposed spending for different schools and funding categories. The largest percentage of funding would go to building maintenance and upgrades.
Image courtesy of the Lansing School District

THURSDAY, OCT. 1 — The Lansing School District took questions and addressed concerns from parents and residents at a public meeting last night about its proposed millage to fund building maintenance, technology updates and a major new curriculum to next year’s ballot.

The dozen attendees addressed topics from how much the millage would cost residents to what the new “Promise Pathway” curriculum could mean for students.

The innovative curriculum would allow students to prepare for their futures through programs beginning in elementary school," said Dan LaMore, a construction manager working with the district, told them.

“This is a huge educational change that will make an impact on our students in this district,” LaMore said. “That pathway — it’s a major journey they will be taking.”

Feedback from the parents and residents at the meeting, which was the third of five, will help the district decide by an Oct. 15 deadline whether to put the proposal on the ballot next year.

If it passes next year, the proposal would raise funding to 2.25 mills by extending the current 1.5 mills and adding a .75 mill increase. A mill levy is the tax rate applied to a property’s home’s assessed property value. In this proposal, it would come about to about $37.50 each year per $50,000 in taxable value.

LaMore said that even with the increase, the Lansing district’s millage is still the lowest in the area.

“We wanted a low millage increase and a low burden for families,” he said.

While the largest percentage of those millage funds would go to building improvements and maintenance, the funding would also help implement the Promise Pathway.

The curriculum proposes dividing district schools into three “pathways” ending at one of the district’s three high schools, which would each offer different specialized areas of study, along with their current general education curriculum.

Eastern High School would focus on Biotechnical studies, IB and Chinese language, while Sexton High School would cover STEAM and STEM programs and Spanish. Everett’s pathway would be for students interested in visual and performing arts.

Nancy Mahlow, a bond committee member and the president of the Eastside Neighborhood Organization, said the program would make the district more competitive with other nearby schools.

“We thought of this as another way to educate our kids from the bottom to the top,” she said. But if they change their mind, they can. The core is the same in each pathway, except for the specialized areas.

“They can also do normal comprehensive high school in any school if they don’t want to pick a specialization.”

Last night’s meeting also addressed questions about the Eastern High School building, which LaMore said the superintendent has decided to sell. Sparrow Health System is a likely buyer.

Eastern would move to the existing Pattengill Middle Schooll building, which would see some upgrades and the construction of a new wing to accommodate the students. Pattengill students would move to Fairview Elementary, where additions and buildings improvements will also help better suit the shift.

The fourth meeting is 6 to 7:30 tonight at Everett High School. The final meeting is at J.W. Sexton High school is 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday.