GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Public Schools is having an upcoming budget vote and a community group is organizing and focusing on five key issues.
The Urban Core Collective works with students, parents and community members who are focused on improving public education.
“It’s really about exploring what our community needs and what they wish for, what they are needing in their schools,” said Betsaida Valdivia, an education organizer with UCC.
Tuesday night, UCC laid out its five major demands for the district’s upcoming budget.
“These demands are something the community has been talking about for a while now. I don’t think anything in these five issue areas are things that the board hasn’t heard before,” said Erika VanDyke, an education organizer with the Urban Core Collective.
The focus is on improving food service, ensuring Black students attend schools that are staffed appropriately, monitoring air quality in GRPS buildings, guaranteeing dependable transportation and supporting student’s mental health.
“I think the issue is we haven’t seen a lot of action,” said VanDyke.
The Executive Director of Communications at GRPS, Leon Hendrix, said the district and Urban Core Collective are on the same page on many of these issues.
“Urban Core Collective is an important organization in our community and we’ve received their list of concerns they have for our school district and the good news is that on so many of these fronts, we are aligned,” said Hendrix.
He said the district is already working on some of these issues including air quality in schools.
“The school board is right now working on the process of putting a bond initiative on the ballot to make sure we are putting the proper investment in our school buildings so that things like air conditioning are universal across the district,” said Hendrix.
He also mentioned making sure schools are appropriately staffed, adding that a lot of issues are based around finding qualified candidates.
“Looking at places where we can incentivize teachers to work in schools where we need them most. So those programs are in the process right now of being worked out,” said Hendrix.
For the collective, the effort is about making sure their voices and the voices of others in the district are heard.
“We are really just hoping to continue to support what people are asking for and they are saying they want to be involved and they want to build power. They just need the community and support to do it,” said Valdivia.
UCC is hosting another “Show Us the Money: Community Speaks Out!” meeting on June 12 at 4 p.m. across the street from the GRPS Administration Building until 5 P.M. Free tacos and music will be provided.
GRPS’ school board meeting starts at 5:30 P.M. The GRPS budget will be presenting its spending plan for the 2023-24 school year to the Board of Education.
June 19 is the final budget vote by the GRPS school board.