Lansing School District – Ingham County, Michigan

April 22, 2024

Lansing School District

Creating programs that work


Dedicated to the unwavering pursuit of positive outcomes for all its students.

Tracing its history back to May 1st, 1847, Lansing (formerly the City of Michigan) opened the first schoolhouse along the Grand River. By 1851, the city established three districts in three wards, and in March 1861, the city’s charter expanded the number of wards and combined them into one.

This consolidation laid the foundation for the present-day Lansing School District (LSD).

Ben Shuldiner, Superintendent

The system is a symbol of resilience and innovation. Amidst the backdrop of Michigan’s ever-evolving educational landscape, Ben Shuldiner, Superintendent of the Lansing School District, progressively leads a team of dedicated administrators and teachers, embracing a comprehensive approach to learning.

The district has acquired a reputation for academic achievement and nurturing the well-being of future leaders. LSD believes in the transformative power of knowledge, seen through the inclusive curriculum and range of extracurricular activities.

Central to the district’s success are its strong partnerships with the community, higher education institutions, and local businesses. These collaborations have not only provided essential support but have also opened doors to diverse opportunities for students, ensuring they are well-prepared for the challenges of the 21st century.

Students here discover passions, enhance critical thinking, and become well-rounded individuals ready for a challenging world.

Pre-K through 8th Grade

In 2021, Lansing set a new benchmark by offering pre-K instruction to everyone, showing a strong community commitment. Shuldiner states, “We serve more than 500 pupils in our programs, and that has led to kids starting kindergarten at a higher level.”

Acquiring a high standard for early childhood instruction, the school district’s pioneering efforts catalyzed broader change, with the Michigan governor adopting a comparable strategy.

LSD offers K-8 options tailored to meet the needs and interests of students. Its Montessori school immerses children in Montessori pedagogy. This fosters independent study and a deep understanding of core subjects.

In Chinese immersion, children begin to master the Chinese language and the English language, becoming fluent in both and achieving academic success. Spanish immersion learners gain cultural appreciation and language fluency. This integration ensures language merges into daily academics, making it practical and impactful.

“These standalone programs show our pledge to provide varied opportunities,” states Shuldiner. “We prioritize STEM, but what sets us apart is our specialties.” This ensures every student gets a personalized and enriched four years.



High School and Career Tech

Last year, the district created Lansing Technical High School (LT), a four-year high school devoted to career and technical education.

At Lansing Technical High School, that training starts in 9th grade, unlike traditional schools. LT has four pathways – computer science and coding, construction science, culinary arts, and EMS health sciences. These are full-day curriculums, providing individuals with four immersive years and equipping them with valuable skills for the workforce or further studies.

Students embark on specialized tracks, with core subjects seamlessly integrated with the chosen field. “We have found children engage more when the things they learn matter to the other subjects they are invested in,” says Shuldiner.

When a child takes the computer science and coding pathway, math, science, English, and social studies instruction supports the computer science class work. The construction science pathway focuses on subjects like math in real-life scenarios. Shuldiner states, “For instance, geometry is not merely about geometric shapes, but is taught in the construction context, illustrating the relevance of concepts.”

The culinary arts pathway provides skills beyond the kitchen, teaching cooking and business management. Students engage in hands-on activities like budgeting and scaling recipes for large events. This pragmatic technique includes applying math concepts to real-world scenarios and understanding profit-and-loss statements.

In addition to the CTE opportunities at LT, the district offers a comprehensive, hands-on experience to students in grades 11-12, designed to provide skills necessary for future careers in construction trades, firefighting, EMT, and several other in-demand professions.

LSD partnered with multiple colleges to establish a curriculum for kids to earn credits and gain work experience. Shuldiner says, “We have wonderful collaborations with Lansing Community College and Michigan State, as well as CMU. Our partners in the higher education world offer programs for kids to take dual enrollment and college classes.”

The district also offers a comprehensive International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Eastern High School, recognized for its academic rigor and excellence.

Shuldiner understands the good fortune of being situated close to esteemed institutions, including businesses and higher education partners. “They open avenues for our kids to pursue various pathways.”


Funding and Partnerships

Strengthening a district for the demands of the 21st century fosters robust collaborations spanning the state, city, and private sectors.

Mayor Andy Schor is supportive of LSD’s initiatives. Shuldiner states, “The partnership with the fire department would never have worked if it were not for the city.”

Fortunately, Lansing’s proximity to the Capitol has facilitated support from key legislators, including those overseeing appropriations. “We are lucky the folks in the Capitol are only two blocks from my office,” says Shuldiner. “Both the House and Senate appropriation chairs are from here.”

This has translated into funding of $6 million allocated for upgrades at LT and an added $500,000 for track improvements. A recent grant of $2 million will help refurbish a gymnasium used by the community and the schools.

The refurbishment of these structures relies on the arduous work of the city’s construction managers and builders, with Christman playing a vital role. Engaging in partnerships with renowned architectural firms, Kingscott and C2AE is vital for the district’s progress.

These contributions have propelled the city forward. Shuldiner states, “Turning around a district, a city, or a community requires collective effort. We are grateful for our partner collaborations in this pursuit.”



Anticipating and Attaining the Future

Residents backed a $129.7 million bond to erect schools, leading to the demolition of Mount Hope, one of the city’s oldest institutions. Construction of a contemporary learning facility is underway and scheduled to be completed by September 2025.

In September 2026, Willow will have a new school and the city plans to tear down Lewton’s older structure to build a better school by autumn 2027. Shuldiner states, “Thanks to the community’s generosity, three schools will open between September 2025 and September 2027.”

The buildings will include safety features like cameras, fencing, and vestibules. A security vestibule gives extra access control at the entrance by using interlocking doors, preventing both sets from being open concurrently.

After becoming superintendent of the LSD, Shuldiner met with teachers, principals, and stakeholders to set targets. From this gathering emerged three primary objectives.

Goal number one: Increase the 62.10% graduation rate, one of the state’s lowest. “Over two years, we raised that by more than 14 percentage points to 76.37%. That is the highest ever,” says Shuldiner. The objective is to meet 85% before the end of 2025. The dropout rate is at its lowest at 8.67%.

Goal number two: Improve attendance rates. In one year, LSD has increased the district’s attendance by 6%, with the ultimate target of 90% by 2025.

Goal number three: Increase enrollment rates. Currently, around 6,000 children from Lansing choose to attend schools outside the city. Promoting the retention or enrollment of more learners is crucial. “For the first time in 30 years, the count boosted,” states Shuldiner. With 10,047 students enrolled, the aim is 11,500 by 2025.

Under Shuldiner’s leadership, LSD has made remarkable strides, achieving unprecedented milestones, and setting ambitious goals.

In Conclusion

In reflecting on the rich history and promising future of the Lansing School District, it becomes evident that this institution is not just a place of learning, but a beacon of resilience and innovation. From humble beginnings in 1847 to the present day, the district has continuously evolved, driven by a commitment to excellence.

The Lansing School District stands as a testament to the power of collective effort and the unwavering commitment to the success of every student.

As the district looks ahead, it remains guided by a clear vision and a deep sense of purpose. Lansing School District continues to inspire and empower the next generation of leaders, ensuring the Lansing legacy of exceptional education endures for generations to come.


Lansing School District

WHAT: Serving 10,047 students in 25 buildings

WHERE: Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan, U.S.A.



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