GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The superintendent says her proposal to close ten Grand Rapids public schools isn't just about saving money; the district needs to expand successful programs in order to grow.
The proposal to combine the Academy for Design and Construction with three other Centers of Innovation-- GRAPCEP, the School of Business, Leadership, and Entrepreneurship, and the School of Health Science-- is still in the draft stage. But design junior Marcy Morgan hopes it becomes a permanent decision.
"We'll be our own school," she says.
Right now, Morgan and her classmates take elective classes in-house, but any core classes are done online.
"Online gets difficult after awhile, and it gets boring," she says.
Combining elective and core classes at the Central High School building would replace computers with more teachers, like Misty Stallworth.
"By moving to Central, with all the centers in one, we could share resources and our kids wouldn't have to be on 'E 20/20' all the time," Stallworth says.
"If we can combine and pool the talent, you might have a full time teacher who in one building is going to be providing science for example, for each of the four Centers of Innovation," says district spokesman John Helmholdt.
Helmholdt says GRPS also hopes to attract more students by focusing on its Centers of Innovation. Right now, the four non-traditional schools have a combined 700 students; Central High School has room for 1,600. And if students apply, they're in.
"What businesses and industry and higher ed is saying is we need these students to learn in order to compete," says Helmholdt.
Teacher Andrew Abissi says the plan comes with challenges, like moving large teaching equipment. But Helmoldt says the hope is by being innovative, GRPS will have a future.
"It will allow parents and students to say, 'Yes, I'm sticking with GRPS, I'm giving them another thought. Or 'I'm coming back, I'm coming home,'" Helmholdt says.
Helmholdt says GRPS expects to lose students to other districts at first, but says after programs stabilize, they believe enrollment will go back up, and continue to climb.
Another aspect Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal is considering is to expand the Southwest Community campus, an immersion school, from to K-8 to K-12.