GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There was mixed reaction Tuesday from Grand Rapids Public Schools parents after the district announced 10 schools that could tentatively close over the next several years.
“A lot of people do choose to attend the neighborhood school just because of the practicality of walking or biking to school,” said Bex Takacs-Britz, whose two kids attended Grand Rapids Montessori Academy. “But the reality of the situation is that we don’t have enough kids to fill the buildings right now, so the district is doing what they can to make sure that the buildings that we do have are convenient and within regions.”
The district sites declining enrollment numbers as its need to consolidate. School officials told News 8 student enrollment dropped by 26% from 2008 to 2020 and many of its school buildings are at half capacity.
“A lot of the schools that are being redirected are closer to the borders, it looks like. Which isn’t bad in and of itself,” said Montessori parent Marta Johnson. “Like Ken-O-Sha having more focus on Plaster Creek and a stronger ecology program, that sounds really amazing! But it also means more commuting and a deeper reliance on bus service.”
Johnson said the district has been historically bad with its transportation services and communication. She chose the Grand Rapids Montessori Academy Fountain Street school not only for its unique teaching structure, but its walkability for her and her family.
“In moving it farther away it makes everybody more reliant on the bus service,” she said.
Other parents who spoke to News 8 expressed concerned over previous capitol investments the district has made toward its Fountain Street building. They now question if that monetary investment was a waste if the district always planned on closing the building in the near future.
The academy and North Park Montessori, under the district’s proposal, would move to a new campus on the city’s northeast side.