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Our History

The GVSU Charter Schools Office is entering its 21st year of being a charter school authorizer. Please scroll through the timeline to see key moments during our time of operation.

Through the Years

1993 - 1998: 

GVSU commits to chartering schools after Michigan becomes ninth state to enact charter law. The GVSU Charter Schools Office, led by J. Patrick Sandro, opens three schools in 1995, serving 350 students total. By 1998 the GVSU CSO authorizes 16 schools, including two high schools.

1999 - 2004:

In 2000, GVSU President Arend D. Lubbers receives the annual Plachta Award from the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA) for excellent work with charter schools. Two years later, Sandro retires and is replaced by Ed Richardson, former Chelsea Public Schools superintendent. By 2004 the GVSU CSO authorizes 25 schools, serving over 7,000 students.

2005 - 2010:

Under Richardson, the CSO looks to improve school performance and track data. The CSO does this by implementing student growth assessments through NWEA MAP, creating the Comprehensive Performance Review (CPR), and introducing a web-based tool that allows CSO staff to efficiently manage legal activity at each school. In 2009, Richardson steps down and Timothy H. Wood becomes new leader of the CSO. The CSO also moves into its current location, the GVSU Bicycle Factory in downtown Grand Rapids. By 2010 the GVSU CSO serves nearly 20,000 students in 40 schools, including Michigan's first virtual charter academy.


Under Wood, the CSO develops a “Growth with Quality” initiative that focuses on offering more development opportunities for teachers and administrators and improving student achievement scores. Professional development workshops are created for reading, data, classroom management, and technology in the classroom. Programs are established to bring charter students to GVSU, including campus visits, summer camp, and ArtPrize Education Days. The CSO also introduces The Learning Network and Leadership Coaching, seminars designed for school administrators to discuss best practices. In 2013 the GVSU Detroit Center is opened and becomes the center of the CSO's Detroit-related activity. In 2014, the GVSU celebrates 20 years of charter school authorization. Grand Valley currently serves over 32,000 students in 71 schools.