Out-of-district enrollment and the exclusion of lockers at the new high school were among the topics discussed during a joint meeting of the Lansing Board of Education and Lansing City Council.
The two elected bodies met Monday evening before a regular meeting of the Lansing Board of Education.
Superintendent Randy Bagby addressed the issue of the school system's enrollment of students who live outside the district.
Bagby said Lansing public schools have about 300 out-of-district students. He said having these students results in additional funding from the state. Without them, the district would have to raise its tax levy by three or four mills to make up the difference.
Bagby said some may argue the funding the state provides for the out-of-district students is still tax money, but "if we don't use it, someone else gets it."
"I need everyone's help educating people about school finance," he said.
He said the school system permits the enrollment of out-of-district students based on things such as grades and attendance and whether there are empty seats.
Each year, Bagby said, there are more than 100 students who live in the Lansing district but attend other schools. He said the district loses these students for various reasons. At least some of them go to other districts because they offer programs that aren't available in Lansing.
Bagby was asked when the Lansing district will offer programs that will keep students from going outside the school system.
He said, in some cases, it wouldn't be efficient to offer a program that only a few students are interested in taking. He noted that the district added a culinary arts program this year.
Bagby was asked about a JROTC program, but he said district officials aren't the ones who decide where these programs are located.
Lansing High School students are able to participate in the JROTC program at Leavenworth High School.
Lansing board President Richard Whitlow said the district has an open dialog with the Leavenworth school system.
Bagby said the two districts have partnered for an alternative high school program.
The Lansing superintendent was asked how out-of-district enrollment impacts the need for new buildings. Last year, voters approved a $73 million bond issue that will pay for, among other things, a new high school.
Bagby said the level of out-of-district students is significant but not significant enough to result in the need for more buildings.
The issue of lockers at the new high school also was raised. District officials don't plan to have lockers installed in the new building.
Bagby said school officials are trying to make the design of the new building as much about learning in the 21st century as they can. He said if a school is built based only on what's happening now, officials will miss the boat as far as students in the future.
Page 2 of 2 - Bagby said it would cost more than $1 million to include the space for lockers, which he argued won't be needed. He said students still will have places to hang coats.
If it's determined later that lockers are needed, they can be added in the future, he said.
During their regular meeting, Lansing school board members approved an agreement with the city of Lansing that sets up an improvement, or benefit, district, to pay for public improvements related to the high school site.
Under the agreement, the district will be assessed half of the cost of sewer and street improvements to be paid in equal installments over 15 years.
Bagby said there will be more than $1.7 million in costs that the district will be splitting with the city. But he said the city will not charge other fees that could be assessed to the school district.
"We're actually just trading out what we would spend anyway," the superintendent said.
Under the agreement, the school district will allow public use of a swimming pool and other facilities at the new high school. The district also will construct a 10-foot wide trail at the high school site that will connect with a city trail system.
The school board's vote for the agreement was 6-1 with board member Rich Hauver voting against it.