Archive for Thursday, November 11, 2004

School district looks to the future

November 11, 2004

— One of the most important issues facing our community is school district facility planning.

Lansing School District citizens have spent an enormous amount of time studying and planning for school facilities. With two different studies and consistent outcomes from each of the studies, the time for our Board of Education to address these concerns and issues has emerged.

In reading the article in last week's The Lansing Current "Connecting to the past," I could only imagine the planning that took place around the turn of that century among the leadership in Lansing. Sometimes successes and failures happen by accident, but most often success is the result of serious strategic planning with well established goals.

Today, we realize that we need to connect to the future as our communities become more progressive. We must work with all stakeholders including governmental entities in order to realize success. Having the school district, the city, and the county all working together toward goals that have interrelationships will produce many improvements in the quality of life for both our students and patrons.

The strategies behind our preliminary strategic planning are progress, accommodation, and success for all of our students.

It is too early yet to address specific programming and plans for facilities, but clearly, there is an emerging consensus among our citizens to improve our schools and community.

Common themes between the school and the city's planning are safety and security which also involves traffic concerns.

Other areas for consideration are community resources that include creating spaces for curriculum expansions in areas such as science and technology. Authentic educational opportunities for all of our citizens are major goals in this stage of facility and programming design.

Educational programming for elementary grades requires addressing the societal differences our students will experience in their lives after school. These differences include a major emphasis on working with others in groups and teams. Much of the educational spaces among school buildings of the past were designed where students sat in rows at desks, and there was little room for "hands on" performance-based learning. These designs emerged during the industrial age where efficiency rather than effectiveness was the highest priority.

We know more today from a large body of brain-based research that how students respond to learning situations is varied, and that the "one size fits all" notion is extremely flawed.

A new school design would most certainly address the changes in teaching methodology that have occurred over the last few years as well as environmental issues that enhance teaching and learning.

Higher levels of academic and economic success for our community require us to all work together toward obtaining our mutual goals.

A sustainable line of progression will result by forming continuous partnerships among patrons, businesses, and government.

The "Town of Progress" continues to shine among other communities in the State, and we will remain the "City with a Future" due to the hard work and commitment of our citizens.

The Board of Education has a very difficult task of determining how much is needed and how much is fair while maintaining Lansing's long history of progress.

Randal Bagby is superintendent of schools in Lansing School District 469

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