The East Lansing Board of Education was busy Monday (July 24) as the group met at 3:30 p.m. for a “goal setting” meeting that lasted nearly three hours before reconvening at 7 p.m. for its regular meeting.
Goal setting meeting describes what East Lansing Public Schools will aim to accomplish next year.
Members of the ELPS board and staff met to select goals that will guide the school throughout the upcoming year.
Superintendent Dori Leyko clarified that the meeting would be dedicated to establishing what the district goals will be. School administrators would then go on a retreat later in the week to determine how these goals will be accomplished.
Much of the meeting was led by Leadership Consultant Debbie McFalone. At the start of the meeting, McFalone led meeting attendees through metaphor-laced discussions revolving around leadership, cohesiveness and organizational success.
Next, participants were split into three groups to come up with goals. Each group was to come up with goals that fall under one of the categories in ELPS’s mission statement: To nurture every student, to educate all students and to build world citizens.
The district has used this same goal-setting method in past years and groups were encouraged to affirm, reframe, adjust or delete a previous goal if needed. Groups spent about one hour and 20 minutes discussing goals and eating the food provided at the meeting before reconvening.
The Nurture Each Child group announced two goals. The first is to “Further develop and implement a comprehensive program of social emotional-learning that integrates specific behavioral sports.” The second goal is to “Continually evaluate and update school safety.”
The Educate All Students group decided to affirm two goals from last year, in hopes the district will continue to make progress. One goal the district plans to continue from last year is to “Revitalize and launch a new MTSS [multi-tiered system of support] framework.”
The district will also aim to continue to “Increase academic intervention positions.”
The Building World Citizens group said the school is in need of a culture shift. Part of the process of improving the school culture will be expanding the implementation of EJATT (Education Justice Assessment and Transformation Tool) work and increasing training for restorative justice practices.
Additionally, ELPS plans to host the Multicultural Student Achievement Network conference in fall of 2024. Finally, ELPS will look to center student and other stakeholder voices.
The discussion on goals was short and there were no questions after the goals were announced. ELPS administration will next go into its retreat and work to come up with a way to implement goals. Those goals and plans will then be presented to the board and other stakeholders.
The regular board meeting proceeds quickly with a presentation on grants, approval of new hires, and new committees discussion.
The regular board meeting moved swiftly, taking less than an hour to accomplish its agenda.
During her brief superintendent report, Leyko reminded teachers they return to the classroom on Aug. 21 and students return two days later on Aug. 23.
Parents Ginger Ogilvie and Karin Pfeiffer shared a presentation with the board concerning the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) initiative.
Federal dollars are available through both mini and major grants and can be used for K-8th grade schools. Mini grants have been awarded to East Lansing several times in recent years and have funded safety supplies for crossing guards, remote drop-off and pick-up, and more.
Major grants have been trickier and the turnaround time is more grueling, Pfeiffer said.
“The first one addressed two schools, Marble [Elementary] and MacDonald [Middle School],” she said. “And actually, we are celebrating because the fruits of our labor are coming in on Burcham Drive right now with some of the traffic islands you see and some of the changes being made, sidewalk improvements and things.”
Another application for a major grant is in the process for Whitehills, Red Cedar, Robert L. Green, and Glencairn elementaries and the group is planning for a future one for Donley.
Improvements vary but Red Cedar Elementary, for example, would see an improved crossing on Marigold Avenue from University Village in addition to the closure of a sidewalk gap on Lilac Avenue.
New hires approved for 2023-2024 school year.
The meeting’s consent agenda hired eight full time teachers with one motion, two at Robert L. Green Elementary, one each at Red Cedar and Glencairn, and four at MacDonald Middle School.
Administrative hires followed, with Molly Williams being named as Whitehills Elementary School principal, Matt Morales as Director of Health and Safety for the district, Heather Findley as District Mental Health Coordinator and Paul Shanks as Behavioral Systems Specialist. Each of the new hires were given the opportunity to speak once their contract was approved.
“As they say, home is where the heart is,” Morales said. “I’m very appreciative to be back here in East Lansing. I have a rising first, third and fifth grader…and I’m just ecstatic to be back and looking forward to a great year.”
Its final major act of business was the adoption of long awaited committee descriptions. Before approval, Trustee Chris Martin pointed out that since the descriptions were written by each respective committee, formatting varied.
President Terah Chambers made a friendly amendment to capitalize the word “district” in each description, the most recognizable difference among the committee descriptions. The motion passed with this friendly amendment.
The school board meets once more before the start of the academic year. The next meeting is 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 14, at East Lansing High School. Agendas, once posted, can be found here.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated (July 30, 2023, 9:35 a.m.) with corrections to captions for the Safe Routes to School presentation slides, with more complete and accurate information in the lead photo and to include volunteer Thomas Baumann as one of the Safe Routes to School presenters. ELi regrets the errors and appreciates readers reaching out with corrections and clarification.