GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (GRPS) — Classes have resumed at Innovation Central High School and Grand Rapids Montessori Middle High School after district leaders and construction contractors assessed concerns about the structural integrity of one of the school building's walls.
Innovation Central High and Grand Rapids Montessori Middle High share a building at 421 Fountain Street NE. The building has been under construction for renovation, though a portion of the building was still being used for instruction.
Contractors working on the project raised concerns about the structural integrity of one of the auditorium walls due to potentially compromising deterioration. Because of the construction, the area had been blocked off, but new information prompted district leaders to cancel classes at the building so the matter could be investigated further and to ensure the safety of scholars and staff.
After investigating the concerns thoroughly, structural engineers concluded that the building is safe for our scholars to resume learning at the site as work to permanently repair the wail begins. Engineers stated that construction workers could safely work on stabilizing the wall so long as wind speeds are below 25 miles per hour. If wind speeds top 55 miles per hour it is recommended that the building not be in use.
District leaders consulted a meteorology expert who stated that storms with wind speeds or gusts at that level are unusual and would be well-forecast so district officials can make appropriate plans in advance.
“Safety is our top priority. We are confident that our building is safe and we look forward to welcoming our scholars back into the classroom,” Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Leadriane Roby said. “We know this situation created a significant inconvenience for our families and we have worked around the clock to respond to this matter so our scholars could get back to normal as soon as safely possible.”
Families were invited to participate in two virtual meetings with construction contractors, structural engineers, and district leaders so that any concerns could be addressed.
November 10, 2022
Thank you for your patience as we worked to get a clearer understanding of the structural concerns at the Innovation Central High and Grand Rapids Montessori Middle High building.
Because of findings highlighted by construction contractors working to renovate our school, we elected to stop classes at the building so we could take the time to thoroughly investigate the concern and ensure the safety of our scholars and staff.
As we communicated previously, the concern that came to light centered around an exterior wall behind the auditorium. Deterioration of some of the metal supports inside the wall caused concern that the wall may be unstable and at risk of collapse.
After further investigation, our contractors have provided assurance that our scholars are safe to return to the building and resume classes on Monday. The area around the wall in question will remain closed off as our contractors work to make permanent repairs to the wall.
We know some of you may have concerns and questions and we want to provide you with an opportunity to address them with Grand Rapids Public Schools leaders and members of the construction team. We will host two virtual meetings for parents, guardians, and scholars on Friday, November 11th at 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. You can access the meeting at live.grps.org.
Classes will resume as scheduled on Monday, November 14th and we look forward to welcoming our scholars back into the building.
We appreciate your patience with this matter and the construction project as a whole. I know once it’s completed, our scholars and families will be proud of the outcome and the building will serve the needs of our learners better than ever before.
Leadriane Roby, Ph.D.
Grand Rapids Public Schools
November 8, 2022
Dear Innovation Central and Grand Rapids Montessori Middle/High Parent/Guardian(s):
As a member of our school family the safety of our scholars is always the top priority. It is in the spirit of an abundance of caution that I am writing this letter today.
During the construction process that has been underway at the Innovation Central High School and Grand Rapids Montessori Middle / High School building our contractors noticed structural concerns that demand our immediate attention.
One of the auditorium walls is showing signs that deterioration may have created instability in the structure. The impacted area had been blocked off because the work in progress, but with this new information coming to light, we have made the difficult decision to cancel classes at the building as we investigate the situation further.
Classes for Innovation Central and Grand Rapids Montessori Middle / High School are cancelled for tomorrow (Wednesday, November 9). Scholars will resume with synchronous virtual instruction for the remainder of the week as we work with our team to determine next steps in resuming classes in person. Further instruction related to participating in class virtually will be communicated tomorrow (Wednesday).
Scholars who need to retrieve belongings from the building will be allowed to do so on Wednesday morning between 8 a.m. and noon. Staff will escort anyone needing access to the building and no access will be allowed near the area of concern.
Families will receive further information on next steps as the situation is assessed.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your building principals. Dr. Jason McGhee from Innovation Central can be reached at McGheeJ@grps.org (616) 819-2310 and Ms. Kerri Reed from Grand Rapids Montessori can be reached at ReedK@grps.org (616) 819-2269.
Thank you for your patience as we work to address this situation and more importantly your partnership in ensuring our scholars are safe.
Leadriane Roby, Ph.D.
Grand Rapids Public Schools