GRPS explains drop in student enrollment

GRPS count day enrollment numbers reaction

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - "We're here today at GRPS University talking about what are some of our next steps, what are we learning from this enrollment data and what are our next steps," Grand Rapids Public Schools' Communications Director John Helmholdt said.

The enrollment data shows a decrease of 115 students compared to last year.

"Of our predominantly Hispanic Latino schools, we saw dips in all 10 of them," Helmholdt said.

Helmholdt points to housing and to immigration.

"Parents have said that they had to move because the rents went up," Helmholdt said. "We're hearing from the parents, in some cases, they've left the city, they've left the state, they've left the country or in some cases the kids are simply just not being sent to school out of fear of ICE, deportation and other immigration related issues."

GRPS is working on a solution.

"What can we do to wrap our arms around our families, especially those who are dealing  with immigration issues or affordable housing, what can the district do we want our parents and our students to know they're family to us and when there's times of needs we're going to do everything we can to support them," Helmholdt said.

The school district is also looking for other ways to use its property.

"We have a lot of property, we have a number of vacant buildings, if we can partner with those non profit housing developers and for profit housing developers to develop affordable housing, we're going to do that"

Whatever the solution, Grand Rapids Public Schools' Communications Director says the district will do anything and everything to help their students and their families.

"They are our family, they're part of the GRPS family, and we want them to know that we are an asset, we are a resource and we are a safe place for them to be," Helmholdt said.

Wyoming Public Schools staff said they hit their numbers overall across the district. Godfrey Lee lost 90 students with Kindergarten seeing the biggest decrease. 75-percent of that district's population is made up of the Hispanic Latino community. 

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