Is the Board Watch Mailer Factually Accurate?

Monday, July 25, 2016, 4:24 pm
By: 
Ann Nichols

In the recent “Board Watch” mailer focusing on “overcrowding in East Lansing Elementary Schools,” author Jim Anderson cites two sources for his conclusion that Red Cedar Elementary School should not have been closed, and that it should be reopened.

The first study mentioned by Anderson, the Tower Pinkster architectural study, was performed in 2010 (when Red Cedar Elementary School was still open) as part of the Community Committee for K-8 Facilities Final Report to the Board of Education. That Committee was charged with “developing criteria, reviewing pertinent data, organizing a variety of opportunities for public input, making site visits and ultimately delivering an objective set of options to the Board. The options were to cover topics such as the condition of the elementary schools, the optimal configuration of grade levels and the most efficient size of the K-8 schools.”

It is not clear what, in the “Board Watch” mailer, constitutes a “brief review of the Tower Pinkster 2010 architectural study” because the Study is not mentioned by name anywhere else in the document. The study does give lower overall ratings to Glencairn (110 of 200 possible points) than to Red Cedar (132/200 points).

It may be that Anderson’s mailer’s “report card” graphic comparison of Red Cedar and Glencairn under “ELPS Facilities Assessment (2010) is based on the Tower Pinkster findings. But even if so, it isn’t clear how the content in the provocative graphic was generated.

The second source upon which Anderson says he relies is “the new GMBae Facilities Assessment Staff Survey, released at the June 20, 2016 Board of Education Work Session.” The School Board meeting on June 20, 2016 was a “Special Meeting,” rather than a Work Session, and the referenced survey appears neither on the agenda or in the minutes. Although we were able to locate a GMBae facilities survey presentation, it does not include the staff survey addressed in the Board Watch Mailer. (Although there is a page containing the words “Staff Survey Summary,” there is no summary and no link to a summary.)

For an answer to the accuracy of Anderson’s claims that Glencairn was “64% over capacity” in spring of 2016, we have contacted ELPS Director of Finance Richard Pugh, and are waiting for an answer.

Much of the remainder of the mailer constitutes Anderson’s opinion.