10 things to know about Grand Rapids Public Schools!

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, leaves are starting to change color, children are donning their backpacks and the Grand Rapids Public Schools are open and ready for the 2016/2017 school year.  Here are 10 important things you should know about our city’s school district:

  • GRPS is the largest school district in West Michigan and the fifth largest school district in Michigan. GRPS has over 16,700 students from preschool through age 26.
  • Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal has been with Grand Rapids Public Schools her entire life—first as a student and then as an employee for more than 40 years! Superintendent Neal was named interim Superintendent of Schools in January 2012, and hasn’t looked back.  Last winter, she signed a three-year contract extension to continue work on the GRPS Transformation Plan.
  • Students in GRPS originate from 55 different countries and 25% are English Language Learners. GRPS offers 16 schools designated as Language Centers, and boasts over 170 highly qualified bilingual teachers.
  • GRPS is the third largest employer in Grand Rapids with 2,700 employees—over 1,500 of whom are certified teachers. These employees touch every aspect of our students’ lives, from providing the first smile with breakfast in the morning to coaches staying late into the evening for practice or study sessions.
  • GRPS provides broad access to unique learning models with 11 “Theme Schools” and “Centers of Innovation.” Theme schools include: CA Frost Environmental Science Academy, City Middle/High Center and Center for Economicology, Coit Creative Arts Academy, Blandford School, Zoo School, Gerald R. Ford Academic Center, Grand Rapids and North Park Montessori, Sherwood Park Global Studies Academy, and Southwest Community Campus. Centers of Innovation include: Innovation High School and the Public Museum School.
  • 36% of students identify as Hispanic, 32% African American and 24% Caucasian. The diversity of GRPS reflects our global community and provides students access to a worldview that prepares them for the increasingly complex issues of the 21st century.
  • 20% of students receive special education services. GRPS offers one of the best special education programs in the country and partners with the Kent Intermediate School District to provide special education support for students from throughout Kent County. Through GRPS programs, students receive education support from birth through the age of 26.
  • Over 83% of GRPS students receive free or reduced federal school lunch. In 2006, GRPS participated in a pilot program with the Kent School Services Network (KSSN). Today, GRPS boasts 14 KSSN “Community Schools” incorporating access to social, health, mental health and family support services right within the school building. Additionally, GRPS houses four state of the art, full-service health and dental clinics at Union, Ottawa, Creston and Burton schools.
  • During Superintendent Neal’s tenure, GRPS has seen graduation rates increase for all students by 12% over four consecutive years. When separately considering alternative education and center-based special education, the four-year GRPS graduation rate is 80.20%.
  • The Transformation Continues! This school year, CA Frost Environmental Science Academy is now preK through 12th grade, home to the first environmental-themed high school in West Michigan. Coming soon, Coit Creative Arts Academy and Sherwood Park Global Studies are on track to become International Baccalaureate elementary schools. Southwest Community Campus is expanding to include a dual immersion high school.  Ottawa Hills High is opening the new Middle College program where students will graduate with a high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree from GRCC.

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