GRPS state of schools addresses improvements, needs

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Public Schools superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal delivered her fourth state of our schools address Saturday.

Declining enrollment, low morale and schools facing a state takeover — It was the environment inherited by Weatherhall Neal when she took over nearly four years ago. But phase one of the district’s transformation plan, she says, has righted the ship and students are better for it.

“We as a community created this plan. We are changing the lives of these chidren,” said Weatherhall Neal.

Over the last three years, she says graduation rates have increased, ACT test scores are up along with attendance and the district’s bond rating. Enrollment has steadied, and schools are safer with security incidents down 11 percent. Schools are greener than ever before.

And Weatherhall Neal sited U.S. News and World Report ranking City High Middle School number one in the state.

“And it’s tuition free, that’s right,” said Weatherhall Neal, referring to City High Middle School.

But now, she says, it’s time for phase two, and the district is calling on voter tax dollars in November to make it happen.

“We need to strike now while the iron is hot,” said Weatherhall Neal.

It’s a $175 million bond proposal, costing the owner of a $100,000 home less than $100 a year.

“And it isn’t just about Grand Rapids Public Schools. We need the bond for this community in order to educate the children to the maximum,” said Weatherhall Neal.

And if present performance is proof, she says it’s a wise investment.

“I have proven the great things that can happen when a community comes together for its children. Promises made, promises kept.”

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