Even after eight years on the Lansing School Board, Beth Stevenson feels there is a lot left to do.
Stevenson is the only incumbent running for one of three seats in the April 2 election for the body, with Gary Courtney and Bob Nye both choosing to step down.
When she first ran in 2005, Stevenson said she was involved with the parent-teacher association and as a room mother organizing activities for the students.
“I've been involved in the schools since my children first started,” in 1991, she said. “I ran for the school board as a kind of natural extension of that.”
During her tenure, Stevenson said she has been a part of two different school construction projects, including Lansing Elementary School, which opened in 2008, and the new $73 million bond project that, when completed in 2015, will result in the construction of a new high school building and the current high school retrofit into a new middle school.
The design for those new projects is emerging, Stevenson said, aimed relieving many of the district's capacity issues.
“When you don't have space in your classroom, it limits what you can do,” she said.
By the same token, Stevenson said district is also working toward what will happen inside those buildings once they are open.
“There's a lot that we need to do, and it's not just the physical plan,” she said.
For Stevenson, the new schools represent an opportunity to adapt for new opportunities and realities, like the fact that more and more students are equipped with mobile devices, both of their own and provided by the school district.
“We're trying to integrate those things into what we do,” she said.
But technology is just one part. Stevenson said she feels the district has also taken steps to broaden the number of advanced placement and dual credit options for students, expand course offerings in journalism and multimedia communications at the high school and have implemented the multi-tiered system of support at all levels of instruction.
All of this in a fiscal environment in which public schools in the state have seen their budgets cut back year after year. During those times she said the board has been able to take steps, like last year's bond refinancing, to save money. They've also brought student busing under district control in another effort aimed at reducing costs. While “there's nothing easy about education cuts,” Stevenson said the measures that the board and the district have taken allow the funding coming into the district to continue going where it's most needed.
“Part of our job as as school board is giving the people who are teaching our children the tools they need to do their job well,” she said.
Page 2 of 2 - As a current board member, Stevenson said she feels she's on the other side of the learning curve when it comes to managing a district budget or a major construction project. And though none of her children are still in the schools, Stevenson said she still has the passion that got her started.
“You do it, you serve because you care,” she said.