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Board recommends leveling unused building, continues planning

Decision is one of the first expected concerning facility use

Grand Rapids — As it continues to mull options for closing and consolidating schools to reduce facility costs, the Board of Education unanimously recommended leveling the former Adelante High School and selling the former Alexander Elementary Monday evening.

Both properties have been closed since 2004 and 2011, respectively, and left vacant or used for storage. The former Adelante High School – also known as the Kensington building – is located at 1061 Kensington SW in the Black Hills neighborhood and Alexander Elementary is at 1010 Alexander St. SE, near the Ottawa Hills neighborhood. The decision was one of seven recommendations the board approved as part of its Facilities Master Plan process.

The plan addresses eliminating unused or excess space to save costs, distribute existing resources to focus on supporting students’ academic success and offer opportunities for community partnerships. The district’s process is outlined here.

GRPS Superintendent Leadriane Roby

The board is working towards a decision on which other buildings could potentially close. Roby previously said schools will not be named until 2023 and changes to open schools will not occur before 2024-25.

Considering the district’s enrollment decline over the last 15 years in the district and across the state, these efforts will result in the consolidation of some school programs and repurposing property.  

With 720 acres of land owned by GRPS, more than 50 percent of 42 school buildings are at or below 50 percent; one million square feet of space is not fully utilized.  

Superintendent Leadriane Roby said the board based their voting decisions on the “overall health and growth of GRPS for the future.” 

“We have a comprehensive summary of our recommendations that will be made available to the larger community on our website by the end of this week, so people can see what has been done and what our (facilities master plan) process has been along the way,” she said. 

The district plans to prioritize accessibility and relocating of students to existing neighborhood and theme schools when making building closure decisions. Improving learning environments at schools that will remain open is another goal. 

Additionally, the board recommended using 75% of elementary and middle school buildings by 2032. The community will have the opportunity to give input on future uses and partnership opportunities for vacant schools and sites.

The board will discuss the potential for community partnerships to invest in the Adelante High School property at the next special meeting on Dec. 12 at 5:30 p.m.

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter, covering Caledonia, Kenowa Hills, Godfrey-Lee, Grand Rapids and is a roving reporter for GRCC, Wyoming, Kentwood and Byron Center. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News - covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry.  Following a stint as a copywriter for a Grand Rapids area PR firm, she transitioned from communications to freelance writing and reporting for SNN.  Read Alexis' full bio

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