GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The state may take over Union High School if its Board Of Education doesn't give Grand Rapids Public Schools an extension to come up with a plan to reform the school.
Separately, nearly $25 million in federal funds approved in August may be revoked if the district does not live up to a proposed plan.
The Grand Rapids Public Schools district had until midnight Tuesday to submit a plan to implement reforms at Union High -- one of the state's lowest-performing schools -- without the teacher's union signing off.
The state has 30 days to review the plan, but if it finds it incomplete, by law, the state has to take over Union, and would dictate how the school is reformed.
In May, five GRPS schools were included in a list for a School Improvement Grant aimed at struggling schools. Those five -- Alger Middle, Ford Middle, Westwood Middle, Ottawa Hills High School and Union High School -- were eligible to receive up to $6 million per school over three years.
The grants were approved in August.
However, in order to receive the grant money, the school district and the Grand Rapids Education Association needed to agree on the reforms necessary to meet the grant requirements and Michigan law.
The School Improvement Grant and Michigan's Race to the Top law target the state's lowest-performing schools. Certain requirements to receive the money are in place, such as increased student instruction and professional training for teachers. The district also had to negotiate terms with the teacher's union.
The negotiations failed and did not meet the required deadline.
"Not enough of that grant was set aside to be spent on students," GREA Vice President Sue Maturkanich said.
The teacher's union wants to see more of the $24.5 million allocated directly toward students and shrinking class sizes.
"We're responsible to meet the needs of our students," Maturkanich said. "Part of that responsibility is fighting for the resources that it takes to be spent directly on students and directly on student instruction."
The district requested help and will continue working with a state-appointed mediator to reach a deal with the GREA.
In a release, GRPS officials said "the Board has approved a resolution directing the Superintendent (Bernard Taylor) to move forward using any means necessary to ensure that we comply with the grant and legal requirements; we secure the $24.6 million SIG; and maintain local control of our schools."
Board President Senita Lenear told 24 Hour News 8 class sizes are not a part of the grant's requirements and should be negotiated at another time.
"Our efforts have been on making sure we're meeting the requirements of the grant, so that we can receive the $24.5 million," she said.
The main problem, said Martin Ackley, of the state Department of Education, is that "without union agreement, the proposal [the district] submits is likely not approvable."
If the state refuses an extension, the district likely would miss out on the grant money.
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