A charter school operator who touts its extended school days, longer school year and relatively high-performing classrooms is expanding into Akron and plans to open in the former Goodyear headquarters.
Akron Preparatory School, with grades K-8, is set to open in mid-August in roughly 43,000 square feet of the tire company’s former offices in East Akron.
The school will be operated by I Can Schools, which has four schools in Cleveland.
Charter schools are privately operated, but publicly funded entities.
Akron Preparatory School is the first tenant to sign up for space in the sprawling former headquarters complex that is being redeveloped by Industrial Realty Group LLC of California. Industrial Realty also is the developer of Goodyear’s new $160 million headquarters, about a half-mile away.
Tim Todaro, leasing agent for the vacated former Goodyear campus, said he hopes to reveal the names of more tenants in the next 60 to 90 days.
“We’re talking to a lot of people. There’s a lot of interest,” Todaro said.
He said the school should not deter those wanting to establish offices in the complex.
A lot of office complexes include day-care facilities, Todaro noted.
“In this case, the school is going to be totally isolated from everybody else in the building,” he said. “I don’t think anybody will notice there is a school there, to be honest with you.”
The school will have its own entrance, off Kelly Avenue, and will be in portions of two floors — taking up about 5 percent of the roughly 800,000 square feet of rentable space in the former headquarters building that fronts East Market Street.
I Can Schools will pay Industrial Realty Group roughly $20,000 a month for the space in the first year of its lease. That cost will increase in later years.
The charter school operator already leases property from Industrial Realty Group for one of its four Cleveland schools, the K-8 Lake Erie Preparatory School. This facility is in a former Catholic school on Cleveland’s east side.
Industrial Realty Group also will be leasing space to I Can Schools for its new K-5 school in the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights.
I Can Schools also plans to open a third school this fall, the Canton College Preparatory School, on 2207 Third St. SE in Canton.
I Can’s Akron, Canton and Maple Heights schools are among more than 50 new charter schools that plan to open this coming school year, according to the Ohio Department of Education. The planned growth comes after the provisions in the last state budget bill allowed for expansion of charters.
Marshall Emerson III co-founded the nonprofit I Can Schools network in 2010. He helped to start the successful Cleveland charter Entrepreneurship Preparatory School, or E Prep, which also boasts extended school days and school year.
Emerson on Tuesday said he expects Akron Preparatory School to attract about 270 students for this coming school year. He said the school’s capacity will be 300 students, and about 100 already have enrolled. The school will be sponsored by the Ohio Council of Community Schools of Toledo. Charter schools in Ohio must be sponsored and monitored by an educational entity that gets a small amount of the school’s state funding.
School districts view charter schools as competition for students. That’s because the per-pupil state funding follows students when they move from district schools to charters.
Emerson said his message to parents includes talking about the I Can’s demanding schedule — including Saturday school for some students — and the success of existing I Can Schools.
The I Can Schools’ University of Cleveland K-8 facility is expected to earn at least a rating of “Effective,” the equivalent of a B, on this year’s state report card, he said. Ratings are based in part on standardized test scores.
That rating is no small feat, he said, given that the school has been open only two years, and “the majority of our kids walk into our building with reading and math skills two to three grade levels behind.”
Another I Can Schools facility, the K-12 Northeast Ohio College Preparatory School in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood, is expected to get an Excellent rating, the equivalent of on A, moving up from Effective.
“Everything we do inside our schools is based on high-performing models in New York City, Washington, D.C.” and elsewhere, Emerson said.
Todaro, the leasing agent for the former Goodyear headquarters, said work set to begin this summer will be more noticeable than the school moving in. Plans include a renovation of the front building and a four-story atrium.
Also set to begin this summer will be work on 100 apartments planned for Goodyear Hall, across East Market Street from the former headquarters building. Industrial Realty Group, founded by Stuart Lichter, also bought Goodyear Hall, along with the former headquarters and ancillary buildings in the redevelopment deal. Lichter also was behind the redevelopment of the former B.F. Goodrich headquarters complex in downtown Akron, now called Canal Place.
In East Akron, “streetscape” improvements, including new landscaping and expanded sidewalks, will start in the summer on the East End development — the new name of the former Goodyear campus.
Also this summer, ground is to be broken for a 136-room, five-story Hilton Garden Inn that will be part of the East End. It will be built on a 3-acre parcel off East Market between Goodyear Hall and the Ganley Auto campus.
“There’s going to be a lot of construction going on on East Market, on both sides of the road,” Todaro said.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.