• Title: ALL IS NOT TO BE BELIEVED. A MAGICIAN SUCCEEDS BY MISDIRECTION.
  • Author: Jay Todd
  • Date: 02/07/2016
  • Additional Categories: Recent Essays, Jay Todd

ALL IS NOT TO BE BELIEVED. A MAGICIAN SUCCEEDS BY MISDIRECTION.

You must be at the Board of Education meeting Monday night. You need to be heard. The Board is still not listening.

The East Lansing Board of Education (BOE) has published the 02-08-16 Agenda. The first action item implies a sweeping change. THERE IS NONE. The publishing of the motion has made some people in our community feel that the Board is backing off their mad dash rush to reopen Red Cedar. THEY HAVEN’T. We need to pack Monday’s meeting and tell them STOP. Note well, there is no guarantee that these motions will even pass.

The first proposed Motion only commits to not placing a STEAM program at Red Cedar in Fall 2016.The Motion for Monday states in its entirety, “The Board of Education rescind in its entirety Motion 15-16/109 of December14, 2015 which approved the recommendation of the Committee for Educational Programming for initiating innovative educational programming at Red Cedar PreK-5 in 2016 and Donley Elementary School as stated.” This language does not address or preclude a move of the entire student population from Glencairn to Red Cedar, a swap the Board President seemed to wholeheartedly embrace at the BOE February 1, 2016 work session.

What happens if the first motion passes? Clearly the rush on a STEAM program slows a little and the focus on Donley has been removed, but what of the population swap or the pre-K programming? These are not addressed and the budget for Red Cedar seems to remain intact. The rush for programing pre-K simply gets moved to a “select” committee.

In part the second motion states “… [The] Superintendent [will] immediately convene a committee of teacher leaders from the district to continue the pursuit of Pre–K/early childhood programming….” “… [It] shall consist of district teacher leaders with expertise and interest in this area of educational programming and one Board member with expertise in early childhood. The Superintendent MAY appoint other members to the committee at her discretion. THE MAJORITY OF THE COMMITTEE SHALL BE TEACHER LEADERS FROM THE DISTRICT. THE COMMITTEE IS TO REPORT TO THE BOARD ITS FINDINGS AS TO THE FEASIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A PRE- K/EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAM AT RED CEDAR BEGINNING SEPTEMBER, 2016 in a timely enough manner to implement a program within that time-line if feasible. The ELPS Finance Director will assist in providing necessary financial scheduling information.”

Note first the Board is still focused on opening Red Cedar in fall 2016 and spending money on upgrades to the physical plant. Second the Board has the option to use only persons acceptable to the majority of the Board’s members and their goals of reopening the building on this committee if so desired. Third there is no apparent requirement of community input of any sort on the committee during the development process. Finally it is possible the committee will meet at times and in locales not easily accessible to members of the community if it is open to the public at all. Ultimately it says the Board’s goal is of getting something at Red Cedar STILL REMAINS FOCUSED ON SOONER RATHER THAN LATER.

Perhaps the BOE believe that if it spends the money on Red Cedar now the community will be forced to continue using it. Mr. Pugh the District’s finance manager has indicated to this writer and to the public at BOE meetings that closing the Red Cedar School has saved the district money. Mr. Pugh seems to be included in this current Motion as an afterthought only.

Where is the community input? Where is the call for community members with business and financial experience to aid this community in the committee and the BOE’s deliberations? There are community members with various skill sets who could aid this committee immensely.

The last two Motions seem to move the spending of money that was allocated for the Red Cedar juggernaut out of the public eye and into the hands of the finance committee and the finance director. The usual January budget revision for expenditures until June 31, 2016, which was revised to include costs for Red Cedar programming has not been revised in the new motions. Thus there maybe money for mischief here that may be well shielded from the public’s gaze. It is not clear whether if these Motions pass Mr. Pugh will have to return to the Board with another revised Budget.

I don't think any of this feels right. Use of a “select” committee to set timelines and the continued focus on having bodies in Red Cedar by September 2016 are highly suspect. The complete lack of citizen input seems to imply a rush to repopulate a school that while mothballed has resulted in cost savings for the District.

Many of the people who have been reading my posts are experts, CPAs, lawyers, bankers, doctors of education and the like. I ask you to turn your gaze to see if you see something I am not. Tell me if what you see isn’t an ongoing rush to get a population into the Red Cedar building at all costs before the next school board election.

Jay Todd
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