Architecture & Design, Construction, and Higher Education

Faith-based school opening in suburb

December 28, 2017
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St. Robert Catholic School exterior partial rendering
A partial rendering of St. Robert Catholic School in Ada. Courtesy Diocese of Grand Rapids

A new faith-based school is slated to open in the area next fall.

St. Robert Catholic School will be located in Ada at St. Robert of Newminster Parish, at 6477 Ada Dr. SE, according to the Diocese of Grand Rapids this month.

It will open with childcare, preschool, kindergarten, first and second grades, with one grade per year added through the eighth grade.

The school is considering an initial enrollment of just under 100 students. Once the school is serving through eighth grade, it is considering an enrollment of about 250 students. Neither of the numbers include childcare.

Enrollment will begin in the spring.

The academic curriculum will prepare students for high school, with a focus on STEM. An array of co-curricular and extracurricular activities will also be available.

The project

Plans are still being finalized, but the building will require about $1 million or more in renovations, set to begin in April and end in early August.

Early plans include creating a school entrance and office, ensuring the school has proper security measures, and updating existing systems.

The school will share the parish’s classrooms and multi-purpose area. The school will not need to build additional classrooms or amenities.

Grand Rapids-based AMDG Architects is the architect on the project, and the school will consult the firm throughout the process on interior design.

The contractor working on the project is Ada-based Erhardt Construction.

The diocese said initial renovations and startup investments will be absorbed by an independent nonprofit school corporation, with the goal of reaching financial sustainability through tuition and development within three to five years. 

Staffing

Plans are underway for the recruitment of a board of directors and the hiring of a school principal.

In year one, the staff will also consist of an administrative assistant, four teachers, four part-time aides, a business manager and someone certified to teach students with special needs.

Suburban "access"

The school will be the first new Catholic school within the Diocese of Grand Rapids territory to open "where one did not exist previously" in more than 50 years, according to the diocese.

It will be an “independent Catholic school” and be operated by an “entity legally distinct from the diocese,” ensuring the school “gets off to a strong start.” The school will meet the requirements for recognition and approval as an independent Catholic school within the diocese.

“While there are alternatives to Catholic schools, there are no substitutions,” Bishop David Walkowiak said. “I am pleased to offer the families in the Ada and Cascade areas this opportunity to provide their children with a Catholic school education, which nourishes a child’s mind, body and soul.”

The new Bridging Faith and Future strategic plan for Catholic schools in the diocese, announced in August, calls for examining ways to bring Catholic education to areas where families do not have "easy access" to a Catholic school, including in the southeast and southwest suburban areas of Grand Rapids.

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