The East Lansing Board of Education is working on a plan to reopen Red Cedar Elementary school and to create innovative science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) programming.
Members of the committee that put together the plan say they hope it inspires innovation and STEAM programs across the district. "The committee wanted to be very intentional about what would happen with other buildings," committee facilitator Rossi Ray-Taylor said. "How could what happens at Red Cedar and ultimately at Donley serve as a model or launchpad for innovation at all the schools?"
Red Cedar Elementary was closed in June 2014 because not enough students were enrolled in East Lansing Public Schools. That's one concern an ELPS parent brought up at the meeting. "Where are we going to get the money for this, where are we going to get these students, who are the 250 kids we're planning for?" Sarah Pressier said. "And no one seemed to be able to answer those questions for me."
One East Lansing High School teacher also says the money is a concern for him. "Moving kids over there in terms of opening up space is a good idea, but unless you're hiring more teachers, you're just reshuffling the deck. Unless you change your parent to student ratio, it's not going to make a difference," Tim Akers said.
But a fourth grade teacher at Glencairn Elementary says STEAM programs are a good idea in elementary schools across the district, although she couldn't comment on the Red Cedar plan specifically. "A lot of students don't have access to STEM programming in their daily lives," Lauren Schefke said. "So if they have access to it at a younger age, as they get older they feel more comfortable in science class, in math class, and it can just open up doors for them."
The program also aims to close gaps in low-income students and English Language Learners (formerly know as English as a Second Language students).