Caribbean Fever - Your ONLY destination to all things Caribbean and more
LeBron James declares opening school in Ohio will be one of greatest moments of his life
Lebron James has got some explaining to do. The Akron school district superintendent is BLASTING LeBron for claiming that the 'iPromise' school was funded exclusively by his pockets.
The truth is that the 'I Promise' public school that LeBron James opened for disadvantaged youngsters in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, will eventually end up costing district taxpayers roughly $8 million each year. That's because the school is NOT funded by LeBron - but by taxpayers.
The Akron school district spokesman Mark Williamson said: 'The coverage made it look like the whole thing is his. He did a lot, but taxpayers should know it's their investment too.'
Taxpayers will foot the bill because the school is a joint effort between Akron Public Schools, which covers the daily running of the school, and LeBron's foundation.
According to Cleveland.com, He's paying for part of it. A good part of it.
But it's also a public school within the Akron school district, which means that taxpayers will pay for the bulk of the costs.
The exact breakdown of expenses for the new I Promise School is unclear, since the district and the LeBron James Family Foundation are still sorting out final details of their contract. But the district will pay more than half the costs - perhaps around 75 percent - once it is fully running.
District officials are walking a fine line this week as they try to explain how the new school, which aims to help at-risk students, will work.
On the one hand, James and his foundation are making a huge gift to the city and its students to complete a vision James says he has been developing for years.
The foundation says it's spending about $2 million for the school's first year, including startup costs. It has also committed to spending $2 million or more a year when the school has grown to capacity. The exact amount is still to be determined.
LeBron James, the LeBron James Family Foundation and the Akron (Ohio) Public Schools are teaming up to launch a new elementary school for at-risk children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio
Le Bron James may have skipped college, but thanks to the I Promise School – a joint project between his foundation and Akron Public Schools that opened Monday – over a thousand students from his home town won't have to.
The school, which is the product of a decade's worth of work, is focused on helping Akron students from difficult backgrounds who qualify based on socioeconomic and performance factors. By 2022, IPS hopes to teach students from first through eighth grade, but on Monday, it was just 240 third and fourth graders who were on-hand for the opening.
IPS has a longer school day and a longer school year, which is why it's opening in July, but those who complete the entire program will be offered free tuition to the University of Akron, starting in 2021.
'The jitters before the first day of school are real right now!!!' James, 33, wrote on Twitter on Sunday. 'Tomorrow is going to be one of the greatest moments (if not the greatest) of my life when we open the #IPROMISE School. This skinny kid from Akron who missed 83 days of school in the 4th grade had big dreams...'
The I Promise School, which is the product of a decade's worth of work, is focused on helping Akron students from difficult backgrounds who qualify based on socioeconomic and performance factors. By 2022, the school hopes to teach students from first through eighth grade, but Monday, it was just 240 third and fourth graders who were on-hand for its opening
Students were given plenty of IPS gear on their first day at the I Promise School
It was in the fourth grade when James's mother Gloria allowed him to move in with a local family, the Walkers, who offered him a more stable living situation while she continued searching for steady work.
According to ESPN, James went from missing 83 days as a fourth grader to having perfect attendance in fifth grade.
'LeBron missed a lot of school in the fourth grade. It's well-documented,' Michele Campbell, the executive director of James' foundation, told USA Today. 'We all know which path he took. He took the right path with some very good people around him and now we know him as the world's best basketball player. He could've taken the other road, and we would've never known LeBron James. He would've been a statistic like a lot of students who drop out of school.
The LeBron James Family Foundation hopes to help 1,200 children enter college by 2029. James's mother, Gloria (pictured right with her son as he accepts his 2010 MVP award), has been active in the foundation and will have an office at the new I Promise School in Akron
A local gutter-cleaning business, Leaf Filter, purchased school supplies at the I Promise School
Students who complete the I Promise Program will have the chance to attend Akron University for free beginning in 2021. James insists that 'Akron will always be' his home
'Every one of these kids, maybe they don't become LeBron James on the basketball court, but they become the LeBron James of their passion and dream in life. We're coming to them at a time when people came to LeBron and Gloria and wrapped around them and believed in them before he was this great basketball player.'
Not only has James donated millions personally through his foundation, but he's also worked to secure sponsorships for the program, which currently boasts 40 staff members.
The goal is to help 1,200 children enter college by 2029, but the work of the LeBron James Family Foundation won't stop there.
The organization hopes to help the parents of at-risk children, by helping them get a high school education. Another program from James's foundation will help high schoolers prepare for the increased workload of college.
'This school is so important to me because our vision is to create a place for the kids in Akron who need it most - those that could fall through the cracks if we don't do something,' James said in a statement last year. 'If we get to them early enough, we can hopefully keep them on the right track to a bigger and brighter future for themselves and their families.'
James, who recently signed a four-year, $154 million deal to join the Los Angeles Lakers, skipped college and was selected first overall in the 2003 NBA Draft.
He has since won three NBA titles and four NBA MVP awards. Most recently, he and the Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for the third time in the last four years.
The the two-time Olympic gold medalists has found a number of ways to raise money for the school, including an online memorabilia auction, hosted by Upper Deck.
Fans had the chance to buy half of a game-worn pair of James's size-15 Nikes, with proceeds going towards to the school.
The other half of those pairs are already decorating the school itself, along the two massive, curved staircases in the foyer.
The I Promise School has been in the works for a decade, but its doors finally opened Monday
Several LeBron James collectibles can be found throughout the brand new school
James admitted to having the jitters on Sunday, a day before his school finally opened
James, who recently signed a four-year, $154 million deal to join the Los Angeles Lakers, skipped college and was selected first overall in the 2003 NBA Draft. He has since won three NBA titles and four NBA MVP awards. Most recently, he and the Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for the third time in the last four years
The school also has murals of James, Jesse Owens, Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson.
According to Ohio.com, some of the intriguing features are a teacher's lounge referred to as 'the locker room,' a personal trainer, who works with staff members twice a week, and a pantry where parents can grab a few items, donated from a local food bank, to cook for their kids.
James's mother, Gloria, also has an office at the school.
'We are going to be that groundbreaking school that will be a nationally recognized model for urban and public school excellence,' I Promise principal and Akron native Brandi Davis told USA Today. 'We are letting people know it is about true wrap-around support, true family integration and true compassion.'
Students were selected for the inaugural class based on their academic history.
'Looking at reading data, we identified students who were a year, two years behind in reading,' Keith Liechty, the Akron Public Schools' liaison to James' foundation, told the newspaper. 'From that, we had more than 120 kids. We had to put a cap on it so we could fit under one roof. We did a random selection of all students who met that criteria and got to make these awesome phone calls to parents and say, `How would you like to be part of something different, the I Promise School.''
The I Promise School has been in the works for nearly a decade. Along the way, James met with former First Lady Michelle Obama in 2016. The school helps to get 1,200 children into college