- Sponsorship -

New Vision for Downtown Grand Rapids, GRPS

Grand Rapids residents in the coming years may see Innovation Central High School much the same way as it appeared when it was first built in 1911.

Aside from the innovative programs happening inside the Gothic building, there may be big changes coming to the school’s 11.2-acre campus because of its inclusion in a master plan for downtown Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids Public Schools has approved a contract with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. to provide planning services that will determine the campus’ fate.

Plans include demolishing the old City High/Middle School building and historic renovations of Central and the old Fountain Elementary School building housing the district’s Montessori program. Mark Miller, an architect with Nederveld, an architectural and planning firm, said hopes are to restore both buildings under rules set by the Heritage Hill Historic District.

“We have this thought that these buildings are going to be looking at education in a different way and we’re going to be doing it in a historic format which is both challenging and offers great opportunities,” Miller said. “The bones of these places are in pretty good shape and the spaces are fantastic.”

There’s a new way of thinking in town

School officials wouldn’t be considering such a move without unprecedented cooperation with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) and a number of other city leaders. School board president Wendy Falb, also a member of the DGRI board, said it took the right people coming together to get such an ambitious plan moving.Student Frankie Tinerria examines plans for a house he’s helping to build in partnership between Innovation Central’s Academy of Design and Construction and Habitat For Humanity of West Michigan

“It just took the right people from the mayor to the school board to the downtown planners to get this going,” Falb said. “Downtown development should include K-12 education, but it’s rare.”

Kris Larson, president and CEO of DGRI, said it only makes sense that planning for education be a part of economic development. He expects the 5,000 or so residents currently living downtown to swell to between 10,000 and 12,000 in the next decade and those people will eventually be looking for schools for their kids.

“Historically there’s been a mentality about education and urban planning as distinctively separate things with their own boards and authority and sometimes the politics can be difficult to manage,” Larson said. “We have this great nexus with the Grand Rapids Public Schools and we better understand each other about the needs for educational opportunities downtown.”

DGRI has provided $20,000 – a small piece of its $6 million annual budget – for facilities planning to retrofit the old Grand Rapids Public Museum building at 54 Jefferson Ave. SE for the new Museum School slated to open next school year. Money for renovations at Central and Fountain could come from a bond issue Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal has said she plans to propose to the school board in November.

“We certainly recognize the importance of a vital school district to retain individuals in our community and we view education as a fundamental part of economic development,” Larson said. “That’s a tiny drop in the bucket compared to what an educational amenity like the Museum School can add to downtown Grand Rapids.”

CONNECT

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

Grand Rapids Public Schools News

- Sponsorship -

LATEST ARTICLES

Students pair up to overcome challenges

When the COVID-19 pandemic closed some doors, a window opened to a new partnership between Grand Rapids Community College’s Occupational Therapy Assistant students and college-aged adults diagnosed with intellectual disabilities...

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, third-grader

This student leader wants everyone to be included...

Career education expert takes on new Kent ISD assistant superintendent position

Amid COVID-19, Sue Gardner took on a brand new role as Kent ISD assistant superintendent helping to administer and support the existing high school programs and help start new ones...

Fourth-grade hockey fan gets a magical hour on ice: ‘I made the shot!’

Raised as a Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey fan, Jackson Solow lights up while skating on an ice rink wearing his favorite hockey jersey...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Handyman helps guard employees against sneezes and other hazards

Protective barriers for many GRPS employees were created by a fellow GRPS employee this summer and fall, at a cost far less than purchasing them would have been...

Class of 2021 has ‘test-optional’ choice when applying for college

Most schools in the state of Michigan have become SAT/ACT-optional for the Class of 2021 for admission purposes. There are, however, pros and cons for students...

Teacher recruits from Puerto Rico find welcoming new home in Grand Rapids

A recruiting trip to Puerto Rico brought two new teachers to Grand Rapids as part of an innovative district effort to address a shortage of bilingual instructors...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS