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Grand Rapids students start new year with big changes

7:42 AM, Sep 3, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Summer vacation is officially over and today marks first day of the 2013-2014 school year for most public West Michigan districts.

In Grand Rapids, West Michigan's largest district, students are having to adjust to more than getting up a little earlier.

The new Transformation plan, approved by the district late last year, brings major restructuring to the district. Among other things, 10 schools have closed, others consolidated, the district is stepping up efforts to reduce chronic absenteeism and has started phasing in a district-wide uniform policy. A full uniform costs on average about $20.

"If a child shows up and they are not in uniform, we are not going to send them home. We are going to provide them with a uniform for that day," said John Helmholdt, GRPS Spokesperson.

GRPS is also expanding the number of K through 8 and pre-K through 8 programs. But for all the changes made under the transformation plan, district officials say what they really need in order to be successful is for parents to step up.

"The message really is get involved and be part of the transformation. We are actually going to be launching the parent university. Which is a cutting-edge approach to parent engagement. It will have a course book where it is almost like signing up for classes. It is simple and easy," said Helmholdt.

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