Akron (Ohio) board approves school backed by LeBron James

The "I Promise" school, set to open next year for at-risk students, will be a partnership between the district and the basketball star's foundation.

The Akron (Ohio) School Board has approved a master plan for a school that it will operate in partnership with a foundation created by basketball star LeBron James.

The Akron Beacon-Journal reports that the I Promise School will be based on the LeBron James Family Foundation's existing I Promise Network programs, which have helped more than 1,100 Akron-area grade school students in the past six years with programs, support and mentors.

The school will temporarily be in the district’s administration building. So far, 120 students now in third grade have been identified to be in the first group of I Promise School students. In January, the district will select 120 second-grade students who will join them to kick off third and fourth grades starting next year.

In subsequent years, the school will add two grade levels at a time. By the 2022-2023 school year, it will accommodate students in grades 1 to 8.

Earlier this year, the foundation proposed creating a public school in Akron, James' hometown, to educate students at risk of falling behind their peers.

A main difference between the I Promise School and other Akron schools will be more learning time. Every student in the district will be in school 172 days out of the year, but children in the I Promise School will have longer days and breaks distributed differently.

An additional hour in school every day, called the “illumination period,” will be used for intervention, enrichment or after-school activities. Classes also will start in the summer, almost 20 days before other Akron schools, to encourage information retention and reduce the “summer slide.”

The foundation will provide financial support in addition to federal, state and local funds. The school also has identified several community partners, including the University of Akron.

Officials say the school will cost $2.5 million to get off the ground.

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