GRPS OKs nearly $1M to buy site for new school

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Public Schools has picked a place for a new middle-high school in the city’s Roosevelt Park neighborhood.

The district board on Monday approved buying a 1.7-acre site at Grandville Avenue near Graham Street SW from the Habitat for Humanity of Kent County the $965,141.

The new Southwest Community Campus High School is expected to cost a total of $20 million and open in August 2020. It will be an expansion of the Southwest Community Campus Spanish-English immersion program, serving up to 500 students in seventh through 12th grades.

“When parents said, ‘I want a high school along with this, I want my kids to go pre-K through 12,’ we listened and said yes,” GRPS spokesman John Helmholdt said.

>>PDF: Renderings of the proposed school

The school is part of a larger improvement effort being made in the predominately Latino part of Grand Rapids. Work is already started on new affordable homes across the street from where the new immersion school is set to go up.

“A lot more people are coming through. They got a couple more businesses right here,” Anthony Brown said Tuesday as he cut hair at Vida Barber Salon at Grandville Avenue and Stone Street SW.  

Adding to the optimism is Plaza Roosevelt, a collaborative effort involving a host of partners to bring essential improvements to the neighborhood.

“The whole impetus was to look at how do we bring more access to affordable housing, more access to health care, a pharmacy, and access to a quality education,” Helmholdt said.

Adnoris Torres, the executive director of the Hispanic Center of West Michigan, said 38 percent of GRPS’ student population is Latino. He says the success of the district’s part in Plaza Roosevelt will depend on how well officials listen to the community moving forward.   

When that listening doesn’t happen, he said, “that’s when you run into issues.”

“That’s when mistakes are made and you have to restart processes that don’t really need to be restarted,” he said.

Torres’ outlook for the area is positive, thanks to a lot of people who recognize what the neighborhood means to Grand Rapids.   

“You have a lot of different organizations that are working in unison, in concert together to really make and affect what it is that this neighborhood has meant for generations,” Torres said.

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Online:

Plaza Roosevelt (English)

Plaza Roosevelt (Espanol)

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