2 proposed GRPS schools part of city’s master plan

A rendering of the proposed Grand Rapids Public Museum School. (Courtesy)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As part of its master plan for the future, the city of Grand Rapids factored in two Grand Rapids Public Schools, investing in schools in the urban core.

At a GRPS Board of Education meeting Monday, plans were revealed for the proposed Grand Rapids Public Museum School and Innovation Central campus.

Those two schools are in the GR Forward master plan. The idea, according to Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Kris Larsen, is that as city public schools grow and prosper, the city does, too.

>>PDF: Master plan, including Museum School layout

As a part of the plan, the city’s downtown development authority paid for the consulting costs for the Museum School.

It will cost roughly $10 or $11 million to renovate the old public museum located at 54 Jefferson Ave. SE for the new museum high school. It will cost another $3.5 million to renovate the fourth floor of the current public museum at the Van Andel Museum Center for the middle school.

“I think that we are the best district and I’ve always said that I, too, believe that giving parents a choice and offering programs that students want to be a part of. I think that’s one of the ways to turn a district around,” GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal said.

GRPS raised $71,000 to pay for the master planning work for the Innovation Central Campus.

generic innovation central high schoolThe plans calls for the old University Prep Academy, located at 111 College Ave. NE, to be torn down to make way for green space. The plans also outline other unique programs like urban farming.

>>PDF: Innovation Central site plan

>>PDF: Traffic circulation plan around Innovation Central

The cost of the Innovation Central Campus project hasn’t yet been determined. Weatherall Neal said she looks at the costs of the new schools and projects as an investment.

“Downtown, even our school, downtown really belongs to all of us. It isn’t just a Grand Rapids Public School issue. We have green space. It’s for the neighborhood. We want to be great community partners and we talked about this in the Transformation Plan,” Weatherall Neal said.

Some of funds for the proposed Museum School and Innovation Central would come from the bond proposal going before voters this November, assuming it passes, and GRPS also plans to develop a private capital fundraising campaign.

GRPS spokesperson John Helmholdt said this is the first time in the history of the city that K-12 public schools “have been included and recognized as an important part of the future growth and success of our downtown and city as a whole.”

“In order for Grand Rapids to grow, we need students for GRPS to be a part of it, and what better way for us to invest in the kids than for us to say, you know what, you’re important to our downtown and we believe in you,” Weatherall Neal said.

Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. will have a public meeting on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Innovation Central High School to unveil a draft of the GR Forward/Downtown Master Plan, including draft plans for the Museum School and Innovation Central High.

The contractors also said they want traffic on Lyon St and Fountain St to go from one way to two way. It’s something the city hasn’t signed off on, but all board members at Monday’s meeting seemed in favor of for increased student safety.

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