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Grand Rapids Public Schools looking for feedback

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Grand Rapids Public Schools

Michigan's third largest K through 12 school district is in the early stages of forming a new 5 year plan. It'll cover everything from instruction to safety to athletics.

Grand Rapids Public Schools put together its first 5 year vision in February of 2009. Most of the goals set then have already been met or are being implemented. So they're looking to the community to help figure out how to keep the momentum going.

District spokesman John Helmholdt says their success or failure affects those beyond Grand Rapids. "It is a regional issue that every family, job provider, institution in this region has a stake in. It's an economic development issue, it's a workforce development issue, it's a quality of life issue, and most important it's about the future of our community's children that we all have a stake in," Helmholdt said.

About 500 people have taken their survey to help shape the plan. Helmholdt says minority groups make up about 80% of the student body at Grand Rapids Public Schools, but so far less than 20% of respondents are people of color. "We really need to hear more from everyone but we particularly need those parents, those community leaders, who are African American, Hispanic, Latino, those are the population who we predominantly serve and who are most impacted by these decisions," Helmholdt said.

The survey is available through Monday. English and Spanish versions of the survey are available at any Grand Rapids public school. They've also been dropped off at numerous libraries, community centers, churches and barber shops in town. A more in-depth visioning conference is set for Saturday morning. The school board will use the input to draft its new 5 year vision early next year.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.