Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) is Michigan’s fourth largest public school district and the second largest employer in the City of Grand Rapids, serving more than 17,000 students with 4,000 employees, including 1,400 dedicated teachers. The student population represents nearly 70 countries with 49 different languages spoken, creating a value-added educational experience and benefit that is above and beyond a basic education.
GRPS proudly offers the largest selection of school choices in all of West Michigan. These choices include: the top performing school in West Michigan (City High-Middle), theme schools (Zoo, Blandford, environmental, creative arts, math/science/technology, college prep, global studies, Montessori, dual immersion), Centers of Innovation (design and construction, health science, engineering and biomedical, business and entrepreneurship, university prep), year round/alternative c calendar schools, Language Centers for English Language Learners, school requiring student uniforms, “community schools” with social, health and mental health services embedded, all day preschool, all day kindergarten, and much more. Ten schools are new, state of the art elementary and middle schools buildings with the latest technology and educational designs to support instruction and learning. Eight of the schools are green-built and five are LEED certified; making GRPS a leader in the state and nation on green built schools. City High-Middle School consistently ranks as the top performing school in all of West Michigan and among the top in the state (ACT scores / U.S. News & World Report).
In November 2008, GRPS was recognized in a Detroit News editorial opinion as a “model” urban school district for its bold and innovative education reforms that are producing significant academic gains. The number of schools meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) has increased from 26 in 2006 to 49 in 2010. Over that same period of time, the number of schools earning a “B” grade or better on the Michigan Education Yes! Report has nearly quadrupled from 7 to 27. Also, over this same period of time, GRPS saw MEAP scores increase in nearly every subject level and grade level for five consecutive years.
The systemic changes and improvements happening throughout the district are being driven by a nationally acclaimed “effort-based learning” model that was initiated in 2007 thanks to the generous support of the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation and a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Learning.
GRPS is also emerging as a leader in Michigan on consolidation and cost-sharing services. GRPS currently manages center-based special education programs for all the schools in the Kent Intermediate School District; food services for East Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Rapids Christian Schools, Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center, and two Grand Rapids Catholic Schools; and public safety training for several public and private schools in the area. The district’s public safety department has received numerous awards and is recognized as one of the leading school public safety departments that have utilized technology, training, and relationship building to reduce the number of major school incidents for five consecutive years.
GRPS has also earned a reputation for its sound fiscal management and stewardship. Most recently, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s improved the district’s bond rating from negative to stable. According to S&P, “The outlook revision is due to our view of the district’s improved reserve position and management’s ability to implement budgetary adjustments in response to declining enrollment and the uncertainty of state funding.”