Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions about the Reimagine GRPS Facilities Recommendations? We've got answers!
Explore our FAQ page to learn all about the proposed changes and improvements coming to Grand Rapids Public Schools.
Q: Why are building closures needed?
A: Currently, we have too much space for the number of scholars we serve. Right now we are only utilizing our buildings at 51%, meaning millions of dollars go toward maintaining space that we don't need. The recommended closures would bring utilization up to 73%, eliminating $2.3 million annually in routine maintenance costs. The closures are also projected to save the district a substantial $63 million in outstanding maintenance costs and repairs.
Q: How were decisions made about which renovations happen first?
A: Voters approved a $305 million bond on November 7, 2023. GRPS will not receive all of that funding at once. Bond dollars are released in a series of three payments over the next several years, so projects are strategically timed to coordinate with the availability of funds. Our team was intentional about prioritizing renovations that resulted in building closures that would in turn allow us to streamline funds toward scholar success.
Q: Why are you combining middle schools with high schools?
A: The middle high campuses will feature separate and distinct entrances and spaces while allowing for shared services. Bringing more scholars and staff together at one site will allow for more electives like music and fine arts, as well as allowing for higher-level academic courses for middle school scholars.
Q: How will middle high campuses impact spaces for athletic practices and games?
A: The recommendations leave plenty of space for our athletic programs to thrive — in fact, the plans include significant improvements to our athletic facilities including fields, tracks, pools, and gyms. Athletic directors will continue to partner with coaches to ensure resources are available for athletes as needed and we will consider changes to facilities if shortcomings are identified.
Q: How will families at East Leonard and Stocking be able to learn more about the schools scholars will transition to in the fall?
A: We know bringing schools together is about more than moving scholars from one building to another. It’s really merging two communities together. If this plan is approved, we will immediately begin planning for connecting families and staff within these schools to make the transition smoother for everyone involved. We are also asking the GRPS family for feedback on what this might look like and will incorporate that feedback into this work.
Q: How will building closures impact Special Education programs?
A: The district is committed to providing high-quality special education programming to meet the needs of our scholars. The ‘Reimagine’ process is giving us an opportunity to assess the complexities and layers of how special education programming is currently set up to address the needs of our scholars with disabilities. Finalizing the facilities layout, redrawing the attendance boundaries, as well as feedback and engagement from our team members and families connected to the special ed programming will all factor into decision-making as we move forward. The district is committed to taking the time to get this right and will communicate developments with our community as decisions come together.
Q: Will construction projects happen with children in the building?
A: Our goal is to avoid construction work occurring in buildings occupied by our scholars. This creates distractions and discomfort for our team and scholars. It also decreases the efficiency of the project work. In cases where work does need to occur with scholars in the buildings, those projects will occur in designated areas that are closed off to scholars or at times of the day/week when scholars are not present.
Q: How will this proposal impact transportation?
A: Our transportation leaders tell us they believe these recommendations will improve their ability to provide quality service to our families. These recommendations mirror theme offerings for many of our scholars, bringing programs that were across town closer to home. This will remove some of the complexities that currently exist for our transportation team.
Q: How will these recommendations improve food service?
A: One challenge that we face, especially in our older buildings, is dedicated space for food service. In buildings where renovations happen, our facilities team will work to create more dedicated food service spaces.
Q: Will district auditoriums be renovated?
A: Yes! The recommendations include upgrades for performing arts auditoriums at Burton Middle, City High Middle, Innovation Central, Ottawa Hills, and Union.
Q: Which athletic facilities will get upgrades?
A: The recommendations include renovations for pools at City High Middle, Ottawa Hills, and Union. There would also be upgrades to outdoor athletic facilities at Ottawa Hills and Union. Houseman Field would receive upgrades, including new turf, track replacement, and locker room upgrades. Briggs Field would also see improvements.
Q: How will teachers and staff be relocated as their schools close?
A: The district's goal is to provide staff at programs that are closing the first choice of openings throughout the district. This, of course, includes the additional openings that will be made available at the schools receiving scholars from the programs that are moving. GRPS leaders are committed to working with union leaders to create a system that works in the best interest of our valued team members.
Q: What will happen next at buildings slated to be repurposed?
A: As schools close, GRPS will gather feedback from our GRPS family and the neighbors who live near the property. As we Reimagine what the future of those sites might look like, considerations could include affordable family housing, green space, parkland, or other uses that would benefit the community and the school district as a whole. The Board of Education has expressed a desire to maintain property ownership where possible for potential future growth.
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