Kalamazoo Public Schools Welcome Over 12,000 Students Annually in its Classrooms
If you live in the Kalamazoo area, you’re undoubtedly familiar with Kalamazoo Public Schools. As one of the largest school districts in the region serving almost 13,000 students, they’re a hard one to miss.
This large student population also requires a lot of real estate: KPS consists of 24 schools (17 elementary, four middle schools, and three high schools).
Inside of those 24 buildings is a supportive team of educators, parents, and community organizations who work tirelessly to improve student achievement and graduation rates.
They work to support the district’s mission of empowering all students to nurture their dreams and contribute to making the world a better place.
Kalamazoo Public Schools’ efforts to support students include free preschool, curricular improvements, bilingual support, advanced course offerings, and community engagement. Through these efforts and many others, students have more opportunities to thrive in and out of the classroom.
KPS By The Numbers
Students: Over 12,000 in 24 schools
Buildings: 17 Elementary Schools, 4 Middle Schools, 3 High Schools
Community Partners: 250+ Organizations
2020 High School Graduates: 734
2005 High Schools Graduates: 454
Kalamazoo Public Schools
- District Overview
- KPS Growth & Improvements
- District Programs
- PEEP Preschool Program
- Elementary Schools
- Middle + High Schools
- Community + Parental Support
KPS Has Been Consistently Raising Graduation Rates and Quality Curriculum
Kalamazoo Public Schools have demonstrated growth through rising high school graduation rates and curricular changes:
What is the Kalamazoo Promise?
The Kalamazoo Promise is an anonymously funded scholarship program providing up to 100 percent, post-secondary tuition and fee assistance. Since it began in 2005, The Promise has awarded more than 8,000 KPS graduates with more than $165 million in scholarships.
It’s no surprise that The Kalamazoo Promise has had a profound impact on KPS’s enrollment since its inception in 2005. However, the rate of growth in the number of high school graduates outpaces the enrollment growth for the same time period.
In other words, the scholarship has not just attracted more students; it’s also ignited a culture of student achievement and success.
In 2005 (the last graduating class, pre-Promise), KPS had 454 high school graduates. In 2020, 734 young men and women donned their caps and gowns for the district.
2020’s graduation numbers are especially telling, given the impact of COVID-19.
The pandemic didn’t stop our students from performing at their best and our district from providing the supports it has committed to providing to ensure that our students are successful.– Dr. Rita Raichoudhuri, KPS Superintendent
The Kalamazoo Public Schools’ team knows that there is always room to improve and has targeted all levels of education to provide new programs and support for students.
Middle schools now have increased core instructional minutes and elementary schools adopted new math, science, reading, and writing series. Elementary schools now feature more diverse classroom libraries.
KPS also offers an extensive small group mentoring program through the cooperation of staff, volunteers, and community organizations. Students at all grade levels work with volunteers to improve academic achievement and develop healthy relationships with community members.
District-Wide Programs Help Students Thrive
Another way KPS is supporting its students and their families is through district-wide programs in bilingual support and social emotional learning.
English as a Second Language (ESL)
Kalamazoo Public Schools supports local families who speak a language other than English. Among its diverse population, KPS families speak approximately 60 languages.
The goals of the ESL program include the following:
- To enable students to become proficient in English.
- To enable students to achieve at grade level in content area instruction.
- To help improve students’ self-concept.
- To increase parental involvement.
- To increase the effectiveness of all mainstream teachers and other staff when working with English Language Learners.
- To increase awareness and understanding of language acquisition and the strategies that support the learning of English Language Learners.
The English as a Second Language (ESL) program provides 10 centers with full-time, bilingual support in its schools.
Students who need bilingual services are encouraged to attend one of the centers listed below. Services are also provided at non-center schools on a limited, as-needed basis.
KPS Bilingual Centers
• Loy Norrix High School
• Kalamazoo Central High School
• Milwood Magnet School: A Center for Math, Science and Technology
• Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts
• Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet Center for the Arts
• Spring Valley Center for Exploration
• Lincoln International Studies School
• El Sol Elementary
• Edison Academy
• Arcadia Elementary School
New Social Emotional Learning (SEL) & Professional Development Center
While last year proved especially challenging during the pandemic, it did help prioritize the need for social emotional support in communities. Fortunately, KPS received a boost to its SEL initiatives through a large grant awarded in late 2020.
Social emotional learning teaches social skills and provides emotional support; it can also address issues of equity and prepare students with essential skills for the workplace.
Through a $1 million grant from the Stryker Johnston Foundation, KPS created the Social Emotional Learning and Professional Development Center, located in the former Oakwood Elementary School.
The new SEL Center is not just for students: this center will be a community resource for KPS staff, students and their families. KPS’ team envisions a welcoming space for emotional support, parenting classes, community yoga, and even cooking classes.
The SEL Center opened in November 2021.
How KPS’ PEEP Preschool Program is Different
Kalamazoo Public Schools has made preschool a priority for its residents with its comprehensive Pre-Kindergarten Early Education Program (PEEP), for KPS families.
PEEP is a State of Michigan Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) offering high-quality, free, or low-cost preschool to more than 400 KPS students annually.
Students attend mornings, afternoons, or full-day preschool in 11 of KPS’ elementary schools with highly qualified teachers and a structured curriculum.
Is PEEP Really FREE ?
Yes. PEEP is a free preschool program for qualifying KPS families.
Families with income above 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level pay a small fee for PEEP services, as required by the state legislature.
For a family of four, 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level is a yearly income of approximately $64,000. Tuition fees are charged through Kalamazoo RESA.
Four Reasons Why KPS Kids Thrive in PEEP
Kalamazoo Public Schools recognizes the value of early education for children and therefore offers a high-quality preschool program for its residents. Read on for why kids succeed in PEEP:
When you think of building a house we do not start with the roof, we pour a strong foundation for a strong structure. The same applies to education, if we pour into our youngest students we help them develop strong skills for school success.– Elizabeth Jackson-Spaner, Early Childhood Education Coordinator/Greenwood Elementary Principal
1) Preschoolers Maximize One-on-One Time With Small Class Sizes
KPS knows that a low-class size is ideal for little learners, allowing more time with their teachers.
As a State of Michigan Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), PEEP meets the highest standard for the very lowest class size with only 18 children in a class.
Classrooms with 18 students have a teacher, associate teacher (paraprofessional), and tutor. PEEP’s adult-to-child ratio is one adult for every six children. This provides for individualized attention and teaching.
2) PEEP Offers a Strong, Structured Curriculum
KPS fosters learning with an organized, engaging curriculum for its PEEP preschoolers. This strong foundation for school readiness uses the HighScope Preschool Curriculum.
The PEEP curriculum focuses on eight content areas, which are based on areas identified by the National Education Goals Panel:
• Approaches to learning
• Social and emotional development
• Physical development and health
• Language, literacy, and communication
• Creative arts
• Science and technology
• Social studies
3) PEEP Teachers Have Advanced Education + Training
PEEP staff are well prepared to teach and skilled in early childhood education.
Teachers must have a four-year degree and teaching certificate with an early childhood education or child development endorsement or specialization. Associate teachers must have a Child Development Associate’s (CDA) or the equivalent.
4) KPS Provides Flexible Schedules + Bus Transportation
PEEP’s preschoolers receive instruction five days a week with multiple scheduling options to meet families’ needs. Families can select mornings, afternoons, or full-day instruction.
KPS also provides bus transportation from home or childcare (located in the district) to school and back.
PEEP Enrollment Requirements
PEEP is available for children that turn 4 by December 1. This program currently serves almost 400 children across 11 elementary schools in KPS.
- Proof of household income (W-2, pay stubs, proof of SSI or other assistance)
- Proof of residency in KPS district
- Child’s birth certificate
- Child’s immunization record
Three Ways to Apply
- Mail it: PEEP Office/Greenwood- 3501 Moreland St., Kalamazoo, MI 49007
- Email it: [email protected]
- Online Application
Schedule a Preschool Tour
If you have questions or would like to schedule a tour of a PEEP classroom, please call the PEEP office (269) 337-0095.
Kalamazoo Public Schools has 17 elementary schools to serve children from kindergarten through fifth grade.
For many students, kindergarten is their first full-day school experience and is a big step to starting their Promise journey in KPS.
Kalamazoo Public Schools’ Kindergarten Program
Full-day kindergarten is offered at all 17 elementary schools within KPS. To enroll, a child must be 5 years old by September 1. Waivers are available for kids that turn 5 between September 1 and December 1.
School assignment is initially based upon home address; families can use this locator to determine assigned schools.
Kindergarten encourages learning through play, and there is plenty to learn in a KPS classroom. Students enrolled in KPS kindergarten classrooms will learn the following:
Kindergarten Skills & Areas of Focus
- Sharing and reading books
- The alphabet/letter recognition
- Identifying sounds and words
- Drawing and writing
- Writing sentences
- Gross and fine motor skills
- Speech and language
- Social skills, including cooperating and working with peers
Kindergarten Enrollment FAQs
KPS kindergarten is available for children that turn 5 years old by September 1. Waivers are available for those that turn 5 between September 1 and December 1.
Transportation: Elementary students (K-5) are eligible for transportation if they reside more than one mile from the school, and they are attending their designated boundary school or a magnet school.
- Child’s birth certificate
- Immunization record
- Proof of hearing and vision screen (if available)
- Two proofs of address (utility bill, lease agreement, mortgage)
Elementary School Spotlight: El Sol Elementary
El Sol Elementary School offers an amazing and unique language immersion program to its kindergarten through fifth grade students.
All students enrolled at El Sol spend fifty percent of their instructional time in English and fifty percent in Spanish. The program includes full-day kindergarten, a diverse student population, and instruction that focuses on strong, academic achievement.
Following the World Language Standards, El Sol students learn more than just language; its rich, multicultural environment enhances students’ understanding of the world.
El Sol is supported by the community, including partnerships with Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, Kids Hope, and Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo.
Middle + High Schools
Secondary students in middle and high schools are provided new opportunities for growth with advanced course offerings and the new Career Launch Kalamazoo program:
Advanced Course Offerings
As a district, KPS has expanded its offerings in advanced classes. Middle schoolers can complete more high school credit courses, and high school students now have access to more than 20 Advanced Placement (AP) courses, which can qualify them for college credit upon completion.
High schoolers can also earn college credit by dual enrollment at Western Michigan University or Kalamazoo Valley Community College or by enrolling in Early/Middle College, a five-year program that allows a student to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and associate’s degree or credential at KVCC.
Middle school students can enroll in Algebra I, Spanish I, Basic Design, and Computer Applications, giving them a jump start into high school.
New Program: Career Launch Kalamazoo
In addition to The Kalamazoo Promise, KPS provides other programs and support to ensure its graduates are successful after high school.
The Career Launch Kalamazoo program will train students to enter the economy where they are needed most. In Kalamazoo, that includes high-demand careers in manufacturing, healthcare and information technology.
This program recently received a big boost from a $25,000 grant from the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeships (PAYA).
In addition to the $25,000 in funds, KPS will receive more than $1 million of in-kind support in the form of training, coaching and programs from the national organization to help develop the apprenticeship program.
Our focus on preparing all students for college and careers includes early exposure to career awareness and exploration starting with middle schoolers. High school students will then have opportunities to participate in apprenticeship programs with local employers.– Dr. Rita Raichoudhuri, KPS Superintendent
More than 200 school districts applied for the PAYA grants; Kalamazoo was one of just six to win one.
Community + Parental Support
KPS knows that a student’s success can only happen when support comes from both inside and outside of the school’s walls.
Parental Engagement & Support
Children excel when parents are engaged in their children’s education. When parents are involved, children benefit academically, behaviorally, and socially.
To build this community, KPS parents are encouraged to join the Parent Teacher Organization. The PTO’s role goes well beyond school fundraising; it provides a strong collaboration and connection between parents and staff.
In addition to the schools and students’ families, KPS works with over 250 different organizations within the community.
The support these partners provide includes tutoring, extracurricular programming and donations.
Featured KPS Community Partners
The Kalamazoo Promise: The Promise is an anonymously-funded scholarship program providing free college tuition to KPS graduates.
Community in Schools of Kalamazoo: CIS places coordinators on-site in schools to connect students with resources and services. They boast over 700 volunteers committed to addressing high school dropout rates.
Kalamazoo Public Library: Open since 1872, KPL serves over 115,000 people through five locations in the Kalamazoo area.
Gryphon Place: For 50 years, Gryphon Place has served the community through suicide prevention, conflict resolution, housing and utility payment assistance. Its restorative practices help keep kids in the classroom.
Kalamazoo citizens also believe in Kalamazoo Public Schools, showing their support through bond approvals.
Bonds for $96.7 million in 2018, $62 million in 2013, and $62 million in 2010 have supported optimal learning environments through facility investments and upkeep.