Grand Rapids seeks community input on plan to restructure school buildings

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Grand Rapids Public Schools is asking for the public’s help in developing the district’s new facilities master plan, which could result in major restructuring on campus in the coming years.

The district announced 11 town hall sessions for families to learn more about the restructuring plan and provide feedback on how to target resources. The sessions will begin Sept. 13 and run through Oct. 12.

School leaders also launched a community survey to solicit feedback, which takes about 10-15 minutes to complete and will be open through Oct. 20, the district announced this week.

GRPS enrollment has dropped nearly 30% over the last 14 years, following a statewide trend of a declining student-aged population. Because of the enrollment decline, GRPS’ academic buildings are largely operating under capacity, school leaders say.

That’s why the Grand Rapids Board of Education is developing a new facilities master plan which could include plans to close school buildings, renovate or construct new buildings, and consolidate programs to optimize the district’s resources for a smaller student body.

RELATED: Grand Rapids considers closing schools among options to combat declining enrollment

School leaders say that reducing the number of school buildings across the district will allow GRPS to focus taxpayer dollars on space the district needs and reinvest in programs for GRPS scholars, according to the district news release.

GRPS Superintendent Leadriane Roby called the community engagement process an “all hands on deck” effort where school leaders hope to solicit as much public feedback as possible on the facilities master plan, which will lay out some of the details of the overhaul.

“These are serious conversations that require the input of the community at large,” Roby said in a prepared statement.

“The decisions we make with this Facilities Master Plan will improve education for our scholars today and well into the future. This plan needs all hands on deck and this public engagement plan reflects our desire to get as many voices at the table as possible.”

The district is still in the very preliminary stages of developing its facilities master plan. No changes will occur this school year, but the board hopes to approve the plan by December 2022, Roby told MLive/The Grand Rapids Press during a Monday, Aug. 8 school board facilities work session.

RELATED: 4 things to know about possibly closing school buildings in Grand Rapids

The 11 town hall meetings will each have childcare, refreshments, and interpretation services available for attendees, according to the district. Two of the dates will include a dedicated Spanish session that will run at the same time as the English session. There will also be two virtual sessions where participants can join the conversation via Zoom.

Here’s a list of the 11 town hall meetings scheduled through the next month:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 13, from 6:00-7:30 pm at Harrison Park Academy, 1440 Davis Ave.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 9:00-10:30 am at Westwood Middle School, 1525 Mount Mercy Dr.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 6:00-7:30 pm at Westwood Middle School, 1525 Mount Mercy Dr.
  • Tuesday, Sept 20, from 6:00-7:30 pm, virtual session
  • Tuesday, Sept. 27, from 6:00-7:30 pm at Kent Hills Elementary, 1445 Emerald Ave.
  • Thursday, Sept. 29, from 6:00-7:30 pm at Riverside Middle School, 265 Eleanor St.
  • Saturday, Oct. 1, from 10:00-11:30 am, virtual session
  • Tuesday, Oct. 4, from 6:00-7:30 pm at Ceséar E. Chavéz Elementary, 1205 Ceséar E. Chavéz Ave.
  • Thursday, Oct. 6, from 6:00-7:30 pm at Burton Middle School, 2133 Buchanan Ave.
  • Thursday, Oct. 11, from 6:00-7:30 pm at Brookside Elementary, 2505 Madison Ave.
  • wednesday, october 12, from 6:00-7:30 pm at Mulick Park Elementary, 1761 Rosewood Ave.

Grand Rapids Board of Education President Raynard Ross said the facilities master plan will be centered around the financial sustainability of the district.

“When we created the 2022-27 Strategic Plan, we promised to ensure financial sustainability for our district. That’s what creating this plan is about,” Ross said in a prepared statement.

“We also promised to engage our community including the young scholars we serve in the decisions we make. The survey and town halls are just the beginning of making good on that promise in the creation of this plan. No decisions have been made and they won’t be until we hear from the community we are here to serve.”

In addition to the survey and public input sessions, the community can also share feedback with school leaders by emailing [email protected]

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