The Akron Public Schools Board of Education gave Superintendent David James broad authority on Monday to move forward with the recently announced plan to add a gymnasium to the I Promise School.

The LeBron James Family Foundation is also considering adding an outdoor basketball court, the superintendent told board members at their bimonthly meeting.

The board's vote gives James authority to usher the project through the city approval process, with the guarantee that any major components, like design plans, will come back before the board.

The foundation will be in the driver's seat for much of the project, hiring and overseeing the contractor, James said. But the building will be owned by the school district, as is the rest of the school.

"Remember, we own the property, so I have an interest in making sure things are done right," James said.

The project, which is not expected to involve public dollars, is a continuation of the public-private partnership that receives national attention due to LeBron James' involvement. The Akron native and Los Angeles Lakers player was in town last week when the Dick's Sporting Goods Foundation presented a check for $1 million for the new gym.

"To my kids, this is more than a gym," the basketball superstar said, noting it was an opportunity for children to "play and learn in a safe place that many don't have access to."

Superintendent James said there is no timeline yet for the completion of the gym. The outdoor basketball court would be a simpler project and could be completed quickly, but the gym requires extensive architectural planning and building approvals.

Board President the Rev. Curtis Walker said the foundation likely "would want to aggressively move forward" following the announcement.

"I think the superintendent wants to have the flexibility to move us forward, but at the same time, we have a responsibility to who we are as the board, to make sure things are done properly and in order," Walker said.

James said the images the foundation presented were what the facility could look like, but stressed the design could change.

"That all has to be figured out with the architect, and then of course the building department, our own business affairs office," James said. "Those are the things I need to be able to move on fairly quickly."

 

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at jpignolet@thebeaconjournal.com, 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.