Hours after students poured into the I Promise School for the first day of classes on Monday, the Akron Public Schools Board formally accepted a $1 million donation from the LeBron James Family Foundation for additional school personnel for the coming year.
The money was expected, as the foundation also gave money last year for additional staff, and plans to continue to do so through a long-term public-private partnership. But the exact dollar amount of $1,058,034 for the 2019-20 school year had not yet been specified.
The funds will pay for additional teachers and support staff at the school, which opened its doors for the second year on Monday.
The school is public, but in a partnership with basketball superstar and Akron native LeBron James, receives heavy additional philanthropic support and involvement from his foundation.
Last year, the school had students in grades three and four, and this year will serve grades three through five.
The foundation pays for additional teachers at each grade level to bring class sizes down to 20 students. This year’s funding will cover two more such teachers for the newly added fifth grade.
The money will also pay for three tutors, two teachers for the Family Training Center and another two for the school’s Empower Hour of after-school programming.
Board member Lisa Mansfield thanked the foundation during the meeting. The extra grade this year creates a bigger need, she said, but now in its second year, the staff better knows the strategies that will help students.
“All of the lessons learned in last year’s school year are being brought to bear,” Mansfield said.
“They know way more now what the kids and families need.”
The school has an extended day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as an extended year. That’s why students were back at the school Monday, weeks before the rest of Akron Public Schools.
James sent well-wishes through social media for the students on their first day.
“Wishing all my [I Promise] students, staff and parents the most unbelievable 1st day of school tomorrow!!” James wrote Sunday night. “We set out on a mission to do what others thought we couldn’t and we’ll continue to defy the odds each year. Don’t ever count out a kid from AKRON.”
“See y’all soon,” he promised.
Contact reporter Jennifer Pignolet at email@example.com, at 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.