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Grand Rapids school board likely to decide early summer start Monday

A large gray building on a snowy day. The side of the building says East Rapids Elementary in capital white letters.
Megan Buffington
East Rapids Elementary in Grand Rapids on Feb. 9, 2024.

The decision was discussed at a special meeting but the issue was tabled for the next meeting to wait for additional details from Superintendent Matt Grose.

The Grand Rapids school board postponed making a decision about ending school early to allow teachers moving buildings time to pack up their classrooms until their regular meeting next Monday, April 29.

Grand Rapids Superintendent Matt Grose recommended at a special meeting Monday, April 15, that the school board start summer a day early for Cohasset, West and East elementary students.

The district decided to move to grade-level buildings for East and West elementaries to help balance class sizes following budget cuts.

The cuts come from across the district. East and West Rapids elementaries will move to grade-level buildings next school year.

Grose’s recommendation would have elementary students get out early Wednesday, May 29, one day before the school year is scheduled to end. Teachers would then have part of Wednesday and all day Thursday and Friday to pack.

“I joke a little bit, I was a high school math teacher, I probably could have packed up my room in about an hour, that’s not the way it is in elementary," Grose said. "They have a lot of manipulatives, a lot of materials, a lot of things that make that room feel like a home because those kids live there for 170 days.”

Grose said the district has discussed every option from doing nothing to letting kids out an entire week early. With most elementary teachers moving classrooms either within their building or across town, Grose’s recommendation gives additional time to transition while also protecting learning.

“We could start packing now and have boxes in rooms now and that kind of thing for the rest of the year," he said. "But we don’t think that’s good for staff, we don’t think that’s good for kids, it raises anxiety for everybody. And we have learning to do, we still have a couple months of school left.”

Grose said having the move happen during what would normally be school time saves the district between $7,500 and $10,000.

But school board member Malissa Bahr said if school is going to end a day early for elementary schoolers, most parents would prefer if it ended early for all students.

“If we’re going to let them go, I say we just let them all go,” she said.

However, Grose and other board members expressed concern about meeting the number of required instructional hours if older students were let out a day early. They also worried about losing money because of financial and contractual obligations.

The board decided to postpone their decision until next Monday’s regular school board meeting where Grose can share more information about the potential cost.

Megan Buffington joined the KAXE newsroom in 2024 after graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Originally from Pequot Lakes, she is passionate about educating and empowering communities through local reporting.