Frequently Asked Questions

 

GLPS Families & Community,

GLPS consistently strives to maintain transparent communication and provide accurate information to our families and community.  To help with this important endeavor, I have created this frequently asked question document. This represents a set of questions regarding our school community that have been frequently asked through email and personal communications, at board meetings, and on social media. This list will be updated as additional information becomes available or as new questions are raised frequently.  

As always, I am #proudtobeacomet!

Sincerely,
Dr. Bill Barnes
Dr. Bill Barnes
Superintendent of Schools

 

 

NEW FAQ – November 4, 2022

 

 

How does school of choice, including students leaving the district and students coming into the district, impact GLPS?

Grand Ledge Public Schools is consistently a district that has a net gain in schools of choice. That means more families from other communities choose to enroll here than Grand Ledge families who choose to enroll elsewhere. GLPS’s outgoing school of choice numbers are comparable, or even lower as a percentage of overall size, than many of our neighboring districts, and our net gain of over 100 FTEs (full-time equivalent students) in 2021-2022 not only shows we are a desirable school district but also improves our financial situation.  Families choose school of choice as an option for a variety of reasons, including convenience and programming available. For example, since Grand Ledge is such a large geographic district, we have families who live in district but may find it more convenient to drop their students off in a different district on their way to work. To see the 21-22 numbers for GLPS and neighboring districts (and for the three school years before that), you can view this chart which uses information from MI School Data.

 

This FAQ updated 7:03 a.m., 11-04-22.

 

 

 

Where did the rumor about litter boxes in school bathrooms come from?

We have received questions about whether or not there are litter boxes in our schools – there are not and have never been litter boxes in GLPS’s school bathrooms, regardless of what you may have heard or read. This question is rooted in a national rumor, fueled by social media and repeated untrue statements and comments. A quick Google search shows that this is an accusation that is being made across the United States and Canada, all without evidence. Any conversation about it in Grand Ledge Public Schools is simply a repeated talking point from a national trend, and is not rooted in any fact or truth about our district.

 

This FAQ updated 7:03 a.m., 11-04-22.

 

 

 

What are the requirements for health and reproductive health, as outlined in state law?

Michigan law has very specific requirements for the teaching of reproductive health. These requirements are summarized here, in an overview document from the Michigan Department of Education. In addition, MDE has an informational page in which anyone can read the laws themselves, as well as view other resources, which can be found here. As a public school, Grand Ledge Public Schools has an obligation and responsibility to follow these laws and regulations and ensure that we are in compliance and providing an appropriate education for our students.

 

This FAQ updated 7:03 a.m., 11-04-22.

 

 

 

Where can I find information about the GLPS distance learning program?

The GLPS distance learning program is an online education program, staffed by GLPS teachers. Students join the program for a variety of reasons. Students in the program are able to take in person electives, if it fits into their schedules, and they are still able to participate in all GLPS activities. Some students enroll for part of the day to receive additional or advanced instruction, some enroll because it works better for their personal situations, and some enroll because they learn better in the online format. Tricia Brentar is the administrator that oversees the program, and she can be reached at brentart@glcomets.net. In addition, please review the GLPS distance learning webpage for more information.

 

This FAQ updated 7:03 a.m., 11-04-22.

 

 

 

 

FAQ – October 21, 2022

 

 

How do I make sure I will get text messages from my school and the district (like for snow days or bus cancelations)?

Be sure your mobile number is listed in the SchoolMessenger system.  The SchoolMessenger Settings Guide provides instructions for you to view and adjust your notification preferences for SchoolMessenger (which has to be done on the web, not the app).  If your mobile number is already listed in the “My contact information” section, you can then select what type of notifications you want to get text messages about in the “My message preferences” section.

The IMPORTANT final step is to then text “Y” or “yes” to 67587 from your mobile phone to confirm you want to get text messages.  (If you ever want to stop getting them, simply text “STOP” to 67587.)  

If your mobile number is not listed in the “My contact information” section, then please contact your school’s main office to have your mobile number added.

Also, phone calls from the GLPS SchoolMessenger system will come from the toll-free phone number (844) 261-6741 – you might add that number to your contacts list to avoid having calls filtered and/or sent to voicemail.

 

This FAQ updated 1:48 p.m., 10-21-22.

 

 

 

How does a school budget process work?

School finance is complicated, but basically, school funding is made up of four factors: the amount of money per student provided by the state, the amount of money provided through “categoricals,” the amount of money that comes into the district through local tax revenues, and the amount of money that comes through special funds. Here is a breakdown of these elements:

  1. Money Provided by the State - Each year the legislature sets a per pupil dollar amount in the state budget. This year, that amount is $9,150. The amount changes every year; most years, there is a slight increase, but in years past there have been instances of no increase, and even decreases. We are provided estimates in the spring as to what experts think the amount might be, but we don’t know for sure until the governor signs the budget, which usually occurs sometime over the summer or in early fall. The vast majority of our budget comes from money provided by the state through the per pupil allocation.

  2. Categoricals - These funds are provided by the state or federal government and are separate from our per pupil funds. They have very specific purposes outlined in the law, and cannot be used for anything else. For example, we have funds to support students who struggle for various reasons, funds to support English learners, funds to support technology, and funds to support staff professional learning, among others. Some of the COVID relief funds we received over the last couple of years are considered categoricals. Each of these funds require districts to complete a specific application through a government process and provide detailed budgets in order to receive the dollars.

  3. Local Tax Revenues - Millages are levied based on property values, and they allow districts to do things like purchase bonds for capital improvement projects. The dollars raised can only be used for the purposes identified when the question is approved by voters. For example, our current bond construction across the district is funded through a millage. We can only use the money for the identified construction projects; we can’t use it for salaries, books, or other operational expenses. A sinking fund also leverages local tax dollars, and is restricted to specific uses like the repair of existing structures. 

  4. Special Funds - These funds are tied to specific programs. For example, community recreation, food service, and child care are all special funds that come through the revenues generated by those programs. These programs do not impact the general fund.

Each spring, school districts are required to close out the current year budget and approve the budget for the next school year. This has to be done by June 30th. However, sometimes the state budget is not set before June 30th, and we do not know how many students we will have before mid October. So, we make assumptions based on expert analyses of birth rates, the number of students graduating, and other trends. Because we want to be good stewards of our resources, we are always conservative in those assumptions. This means that we build a budget off of the low end of our enrollment and state aid projections. This prevents us from running out of money before the end of the school year.

 

This FAQ updated 1:48 p.m., 10-21-22.

 

 

 

Where can I find information about GLPS’s 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 budgets?

School districts are required to publicly discuss their budgets at an open board meeting, and post the information on the website for the public to view. Here is a quick overview of the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 budgets:

2021-2022

GLPS ended the 2021-2022 budget cycle with a budget deficit. This was caused by a couple of important factors:

  1. Employment costs increased through contractual obligations and staffing needs.

  2. Student enrollment decreased (see the chart below), and the state changed its funding formula to pre-pandemic levels.

2022-2023

GLPS approved the 2022-2023 budget with a $961,156 deficit. However, that budget had the following assumptions:

  1. Our per pupil allocation would be $9135 per student (the actual, final amount is $9150)

  2. Our enrollment would be 4781. After the fall count is finalized, we expect the actual number to be over 5000.

With these factors combined, we will be presenting a budget amendment to the board at a later date. We have additional expenses, including rising prices and additional staffing costs, and will update the community once we have a firmer understanding of our actual student count.

The budgets can be found on the district’s transparency reporting page. In addition, you can watch the board and administration’s discussion of this year’s budget on our board meeting page. Please scroll down and open the blue drop down menu labeled, "June 27, 2022 Regular Meeting including the Truth in Taxation / Truth in Budgeting Hearing."

 

This FAQ updated 1:48 p.m., 10-21-22.

 

 

 

What is the GLPS fund balance (or “rainy day fund”) and what has it been in the past?

The fund balance (or “rainy day fund”) is the difference between a school district’s general fund revenues and expenses (when revenues are greater).  Each year, there is an independent audit of Grand Ledge Public Schools, and those audited financial statements are posted as part of the district’s transparency reporting.  Here are ending fund balances as of June 30 for the past several years as reported in the audited financial statements:

  • 2022’s fund balance was $6,475,986

  • 2021’s fund balance was $11,167,969 

  • 2020’s fund balance was $9,085,931 

  • 2019’s fund balance was $6,652,262 

  • 2018’s fund balance was $6,236,057

A healthy fund balance is important, as it provides a cushion in years like 2021-2022, when GLPS had a budget deficit. As evidenced by the five year trend, some years the district adds to the fund balance, and some years the district pulls from it, based on a variety of factors.

 

This FAQ updated 1:48 p.m., 10-21-22.

 

 

 

How many students have attended Grand Ledge Public Schools in the past few years?

The official state count day process is still going on right now for the 22-23 school year.  Internally, we expect to have more than 5,000 students for this year.  We will have more students this school year than last, and we have more students than we estimated we would have when initially budgeting for the 22-23 school year.

Official state student enrollment counts can be found on MI School Data.  Below is a table with enrollments over the past few years for school districts contiguous to GLPS and/or a part of the Capital Area Activities Conference - Blue (the league in which GLPS participates).

Table with School District Enrollments

 

This FAQ updated 1:48 p.m., 10-21-22.

 

 

 

What are the average class sizes in Grand Ledge Public Schools?

Elementary (K-4):  Right now, the average number of students in an elementary classroom (K-4) is 24.21 – lower than the fall before the pandemic started; we have 1,864 kids in 77 classrooms.  In the fall of 2019 (before the pandemic), GLPS had 2,202 kids in 79 classrooms (K-4); the average number of students in an elementary classroom (K-4) was 25.62 – higher than right now.

Intermediate (5-6):  Right now, the average number of students in an intermediate classroom (5-6) is 27.32 – lower than the fall before the pandemic started; we have 765 kids in 28 classrooms.  In the fall of 2019 (before the pandemic), GLPS had 786 kids in 28 classrooms (5-6); the average number of students in an intermediate classroom (5-6) was 28.07 – higher than right now.

Middle (7-8):  Right now, the middle school has 738 kids – fewer than before the pandemic.  In the fall of 2019, the middle school had 759 kids.  

High (9-12):  Right now, the high school has 1,612 kids – fewer than before the pandemic.  In the fall of 2019, the high school had 1,693 kids.

 

This FAQ updated 1:48 p.m., 10-21-22.

 

 

 

What books does GLPS have in its building libraries?

Our book list is constantly evolving, as our expert media center staff uses industry guidelines to move books in and out of our collections and to determine the appropriateness of books and topics at each level. At GLPS, we follow this board approved library collection guide for our philosophy, processes, and procedures for book selection and media center operations.

Information about our collection is available online; books can be looked up using a publicly-accessible link to our Destiny library software (found on our School Links page): Destiny at https://destiny.glcomets.net/.  

Update:  To search our library collection from Destiny, you will first need to click on a school building – once you get to the catalog search, you will be able to select the entire school district or the specific school library you selected.  After clicking on a school, then look in the top left for the “Catalog” link and click it.  That will take you to the catalog search page.  Use the “Find” box to look for titles, authors, or keywords.  There is a “Location” box that starts defaulted to the specific school library you initially selected, but you can select to broaden your search to the entire school district collection.

 

This FAQ updated 1:48 p.m., 10-21-22.

 

 

 

 

FAQ – September 23, 2022

 

 

How does GLPS choose the materials that are used in the classroom?

GLPS uses this flow chart to choose which materials are used in the classroom, and there is a link to it on the Academic Services webpage. This ensures that we are providing materials of the highest quality, aligned to the standards, in our instructional programming.   

 

This FAQ updated 8:53 a.m., 9-23-22.

 

 

 

What classes are offered at GLHS and Beagle Middle School?

In order for a class to be offered at Grand Ledge High School or an elective to be offered at Beagle Middle School, it must be a part of the board approved curriculum guide. Our board unanimously approved the 2022-2023 curriculum guides at its meeting on August 22, 2022. The GLHS Course Description Guide is here, the Beagle Middle School Elective Course Descriptions are here, and the the Eaton County Youth Facility Course Guide is here.  Links to these documents can be found on the Parent Guides webpage found listed on the Academic Services webpage.

 

This FAQ updated 8:53 a.m., 9-23-22.

 

 

 

Is Critical Race Theory a part of the GLPS curriculum?

No, GLPS does not use Critical Race Theory in its curriculum.  In August of 2021, Michael F. Rice, Ph.D., State Superintendent, shared about critical race theory: "Despite the concerns raised by some in the state and country, critical race theory is not a curricular issue in pre-K-12 education. ...  While there are certainly teachers who have read about critical race theory to inform their thinking about the world in which they live and teach, critical race theory is not a curriculum in Michigan public schools..."  GLPS shares the sentiments expressed by the State Superintendent in that statement.

 

This FAQ updated 8:53 a.m., 9-23-22.

 

 

 

How are bus routes developed, and why are some of them so long?

Bus routes are developed based on requested ridership and student safety. With a large footprint in our area, we have a lot of ground to cover every morning and every afternoon. We also have to consider elements like asking children to cross busy roads, the number of stops a driver has to make, and the amount of time a child will spend on the bus. Specific information about these topics can be found here.

 

This FAQ updated 8:53 a.m., 9-23-22.

 

 

 

Where can I find information about the current GLPS board policies?

Our board policies are posted on a GLPS board webpage, and they are publicly available, along with the mission, vision, and belief statements. This information can be found here. The board is in the process of updating these policies through a partnership with Neola. Once the policies are updated and approved, the new policies will be added to the website to replace the old ones.

 

This FAQ updated 8:53 a.m., 9-23-22.

 

 

 

Does GLPS have a policy around flags in classrooms?

GLPS does not have a specific policy regarding displaying flags or items in classrooms. However, GLPS Board Policy “EIR 602 - Non-Discrimination” provides support for one of the belief statements in the recently adopted Strategic Plan: “We believe in an inclusive learning environment where every person is valued.” In addition, the Strategic Plan states, “We believe the GLPS staff are professionals who are vital to the health and future of the Grand Ledge community.”  As professionals, GLPS staff endeavor to create a learning environment for our students that is safe, welcoming, affirming, and inclusive. 

 

This FAQ updated 6:13 p.m., 9-23-22.

 

 

 

What policies are in place to help make GLPS a welcoming and affirming place to learn?

GLPS Board Policy “EIR 602 - Non-Discrimination” states, "Grand Ledge Public Schools shall provide equal opportunity and shall not discriminate in matters of employment or enrollment on the basis of age, religion, race, color, national origin, gender/sex, sexual orientation, disability, height, weight or marital status in its programs, services or activities."  Also, GLPS Board Policy STU 1101 - Sexual Harassment”  begins, “Students are entitled to enjoy a school environment that is free from sex discrimination and sexual insult, intimidation, and harassment. Sexual harassment of students and staff is not only illegal, it is disruptive to the educational process and interferes with the Districts commitment to provide a stable learning environment to its students. All students, District staff, and volunteers are expected to conduct themselves with respect for the dignity of others.”  In September of 2016, the State Board of Education adopted a “Statement and Guidance on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students”, which provides guidance for us and districts across Michigan as well. Finally, our board approved student handbooks (GLHS, Beagle, Hayes, Delta Center, Holbrook, Wacousta, Willow Ridge) speak to bullying, discrimination, and harassment considerations, and our codes of conduct provide opportunity for remedies to situations in which those guidelines are violated. 

 

This FAQ updated 8:53 a.m., 9-23-22.

 

 

 

How does GLPS define diversity, equity, and inclusion?

The following definitions were developed in conjunction with the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee from 2020-2021, and were shared in their report to the board

Diversity: The range of human differences and backgrounds, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, physical or cognitive ability, religion or ethical values systems, national origin, political beliefs, and cultures. Diversity is more than a simple acknowledgment of and/or tolerating a difference in another person; rather, it is a set of deliberate and conscious practices that seek to understand and appreciate the differences of our school community. 

Equity: Taking proactive measures to ensure that every student at Grand Ledge Public Schools (GLPS) has support and access to the resources needed to be successful and identifying and eliminating barriers that have prevented the full participation of students most impacted by systemic bias and discrimination. Improving educational equity in GLPS involves fostering equal access to opportunities, and fairness and justice within the development and implementation of procedures and processes in the district, as well as in the distribution of resources. Addressing and responding to equity issues requires an acute understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities at large. Equity is different from equality. Equality refers to treating everyone the same; however, that does not always lead to an equitable outcome because diverse communities have varied needs and have faced and continue to face distinct obstacles and inequities. 

Inclusion: Ensuring that students of all backgrounds, identities, abilities, perspectives, and beliefs experience a welcoming and affirming learning community in GLPS and have equal opportunity to positively contribute to the GLPS community. Inclusivity promotes and sustains a sense of belonging and fosters a culture of respect in which all students are recognized for their unique and inherent worth, dignity, talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and lifestyle.

 

This FAQ updated 8:53 a.m., 9-23-22.

 

 

 

How has GLPS used American Rescue Plan Act dollars? 

GLPS applied for $2,512,100 in American Rescue Plan / ESSER III funds, and the breakdown is available on our Business Office webpage (direct link to breakdown).  It is a reimbursement grant; so after the district spends funds, it is reimbursed.  At the end of November 2021, the district conducted a survey asking all district and community stakeholders to help determine how to best utilize the funds to address ongoing COVID-19 recovery as it relates to the operations of the district and its impact on staff, students, and our community.  The survey results were compiled and shared with the board at its Jan. 24, 2022 meeting (as recorded in the minutes, page 3) as well as placed on the Business Office’s APR /ESSER III Funds webpage.

 

This FAQ updated 8:53 a.m., 9-23-22.

 

 

 

What is GLPS doing proactively to keep our students and schools safe places to learn?

Grand Ledge Public Schools is fortunate to have a strong working relationship with our law enforcement partners. Through those partnerships, we are working to update our Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) based on specific recommendations from our partners. The learning we gained through this summer’s active violence training will be included as well.  Staff conducts regular school safety drills, which can all be viewed on the individual building webpages (list of building webpages can be found here). This year’s education budget includes provisions for increased school safety, and we will be applying for these grants when the cycles open to access the dollars available to us. We are actively working with our first responder partners to ensure that we use these resources in the most effective and efficient ways possible to maximize their impact on student, staff, and visitor safety.  In addition, our bond construction is addressing safety and security through the implementation of secure building entrances, the removal of portables, and improved traffic flow. 

 

This FAQ updated 8:53 a.m., 9-23-22.

 

 

Dr. Bill Barnes

Bill Barnes
Administration Building
Kim Manning
Administration Building