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City High-Middle School moving into Creston in revised GRPS plan

11:36 PM, Nov 19, 2012   |    comments
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Grand Rapids Public Schools

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Creston High School will no longer exist, but the Creston building on Plainfield Avenue NE will still have hundreds of students inside taking classes, according to the revised plan from Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal presented her revamped "transformation plan" for the district to the school board Monday night.

Neal has previously proposed closing Creston High School and selling the northeast side property.  Then she and other district leaders heard from many people in the Creston neighborhood and alumni of the school, who asked that the school be saved.

"I am recommending that Creston High School close as a high school and that City High-Middle School move to the Creston location," Superintendent Neal explained to the school board. "I did listen to parents, students and to you all to add to this plan."

Neal is now proposing that Creston's remaining students be moved to the Central High School campus, where they would graduate together.  No new students would be included in the Creston group.  City High-Middle School would be moved from Fuller Avenue to Creston, where the district would expand its advanced learning programs.

Other changes in the new plan include:

  • Closing Shawnee Elementary and move all of the its Oral Deaf/Hearing Impaired students to Ken-O-Sha Elementary.  Shawnee's preschool and Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) students would also move to Ken-O-sha, where a small traditional elementary program would be opened.
  • West Leonard preschool/GSRP and some Straight preschool/GSRP students would move to Stocking Elementary.
  • Covell students would relocate to Stocking Elementary
  • Wellerwood preschool/GSRP would relocate to North Park Elementary
  • North Park Montessori would begin its expansion next year with seventh grade students, and eighth grade students in 2014
  • Shawmut Hills expansion to a K-8 program would begin next year
  • Union, Westwood and Alger would implement a turnaround model, with help from Cambridge Education and a principal/teacher retention/recruitment effort

Closing ten buildings, eliminating some programs, and consolidating or expanding others will save the district about $5 million per year.  It may also stop the exodus of students out of the district and attract students from outlying areas.

"The main thing is we know you have to do something to be efficient and some steps have to be taken," Grand Rapids resident Jimmie Carter pointed out during the public comment period of the meeting. "Why put it off?"

"I must do what is in the best interest of this entire district and that is what I present to you for support," Neal told the board.

The superintendent's transformation plan is the result of many months of study and debate.

The school board will hold one more public hearing on the matter before voting next month.

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