GRPS to present proposal for new museum school

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new museum school is in the works in downtown Grand Rapids. Officials with Grand Rapids Public Schools are taking their proposal for the new school to the Academic Committee of the School Board Tuesday.

The new school would be in the Van Andel Museum Center at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Exhibit inside the Grand Rapids Public Museum. (August 19, 2014)
Exhibit inside the Grand Rapids Public Museum. (August 19, 2014)

John Helmholdt, the executive director of communications for GRPS said the new museum school will allow students to experience the exhibits and interactive classrooms every school day.

It will be different from GRPS’ current pilot program where fifth graders spend a week attending classes at the museum, it will instead include sixth graders and run throughout the school year.

Once it’s approved the new school is expected to open in the fall of 2015 for sixth graders throughout Kent County.

Helmholdt said the plan is for the school to eventually expand through 12th grade.

Middle schoolers would attend class at the Van Andel Museum Center at the Grand Rapids Public Museum and high schoolers would go to class at the old Grand Rapids Public Museum on Jefferson Avenue.

Helmholdt said it’s a way for the district to expand on some great programs they already have in place.

“We look at Blanford and the Zoo, those are place-based educational experiences, the top one percent performers in the entire state of Michigan,” Helmholdt said. “We said ‘well let’s look at another model’ and the museum just seemed like a natural fit.”

Helmholdt said the museum school will be the first of its kind in West Michigan.

There is a school inside the Henry Ford Museum on the east side of the state that’s helped GRPS form plans for their own school.

Grand Rapids Public Schools will start accepting applications for the new museum school in October.

The operational side of the school will be funded by state and federal dollars.

Helmholdt said the school will actually help bring in revenue for the Public Museum.

The district plans on having some fundraiser events to generate money for renovations needed on the buildings to get them classroom-ready.

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