LeBron James’ ‘Free’ School Isn’t So Free After All, Taxpayers Will Pay For Most Of It

Akron taxpayers will still have to cover the bulk of the cost of the I Promise school.

LeBron James' free school in ohio isn't free
Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP Images

Akron taxpayers will still have to cover the bulk of the cost of the I Promise school.

LeBron James has been in the headlines recently for opening up a school in Akron, but as it turns out, Akron taxpayers will be paying for the bulk of the “free” school.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the NBA legend wanted to give back to Ohio, and to that end, he opened up the I Promise school in Akron. Aimed at helping underprivileged children escape from gangs, crime, and poverty, the school promises free tuition, free books, even a free bicycle so kids can have transportation there. James also promises to pay the college tuition to the University of Akron for all graduates.

And as The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on July 29, the school was open to the public with much fanfare, so that some of the first class of third- and fourth-graders could get a glimpse of their new school. The innovative school will feature such things as a working TV studio to teach kids about broadcasting as well as the scientific and mathematical concepts behind the process.

Beyond just the focus on academia – and specifically, focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects – the school will also offer “academic, career and emotional support” to students and their families.

“It’s a school unlike any other in the Akron School District.”

However, despite James’ involvement, and despite his significant financial contributions to the school, it is still considered a public school in Akron, which means that Akron Public Schools – via the taxpayers – will bear the majority of the cost for the school.

As The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, the specifics of how much of the cost of the school will be borne by LeBron’s foundation, vs. borne by the Akron taxpayers, are still being sorted out, according to writer Patrick O’Donnell. But by most estimates, the taxpayers will be on the hook for about 75 percent of the cost of the school – or about $8 million per year.

“It’s a district-owned building. The district will hire and pay the teachers and administration. Kids will ride district buses to school. And they will all eat the free breakfast and lunch the district gives all students.”

O’Donnell notes that the cost of tuition at the University of Akron will not be borne by the taxpayers – that’s all LeBron. In return, the university will develop an “I Promise Institute” to monitor how well the program is working and will send students to the I Promise School to work as student teachers.