GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The Grand Rapids Public Schools board of education will discuss feedback to the district's transformation plan at a special meeting Monday night.
24 Hour News 8 looked at district plans from West Michigan's largest school district throughout the years. Back in 2000, when another large idea called the "strategic facilities plan" was launched, community members came out to protest many aspects of it.
24 hour News 8 attended that protest and heard community members tell board members such comments as, "It seems to me that money is the bottom line here...you're not looking at students, you're looking at education" and, "I guess I would urge you now to look around at what you have wrought here."
Back in 2000, GRPS had roughly 7,000 more students than currently enrolled this school year. That facilities plan initially proposed to close 11 schools during a three-year period.
Back then, the goal was to cut the budget and reorganize the district.
That plan was never completely finished, partly because a new board and a new superintendent took over halfway through the plan.
GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal told 24 Hour News 8 in an interview in October, that is part of the reason why the 2012 version proposes so much all at once. The goal is to make a lot of changes all at once and then stabilize the district moving forward.
24 Hour News 8 asked Neal in an interview last month if she may back down on her plan due to community backlash as other district leaders may have done in the past.
"I have been warned, I have been told by people, this is a career killer," said Neal. "You know, I think to do nothing, morally, is the wrong thing to do as a leader."
The superintendent does continue to say she wants community input for the final plan.
Board members said that back in 2000 as well.
In 2000, the school closure that drew the most protest regarded West Leonard Elementary School.
Parents and students held protests during that process, and pleaded with the board to keep it open. But the board eventually shut the school's doors in 2003. The school building was repurposed and reopened as an early childhood center in 2005, and is now again on the list of proposed schools to close.
This time it is Creston High School that has rallied the most support in these first round of public meetings.
Monday's meeting is a special board meeting where, in part, members will talk about what they've heard from the community about the plan.
The next public meeting where community members will get to talk with leaders about the Transformation Plan is Nov. 15.
Superintendent Neal will present her second version of the plan to the board on Nov. 19.
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