The nation’s largest network of public charter schools is expanding its footprint in North Florida following approval of $23 million in bond financing through the city of Jacksonville.
The Knowledge is Power Program, commonly known as KIPP, will lease 8 acres in the city’s northwest area from the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to build a $15-million, 73,000-square-foot school that will serve students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Those students have been attending school on another KIPP site, which will be converted to a high school set to open in August.
Addition of the high school, which will be named KIPP Bold City High School, will allow KIPP to realize its goal of offering a comprehensive education to students from kindergarten through 12th grade in the Jacksonville area.
Bond financing for the new VOICE Elementary School, which will serve 900 students, also will allow KIPP to refinance existing debt.
“We want families and local community members to know that our schools are built on a foundation of equity and high academic expectations where students will thrive, and this expansion means that more north Jacksonville students will have access to a high-quality schooling option that prepares them with the skills and confidence to pursue the paths they choose, including career, college, or beyond,” said Jennifer Brown, executive director of KIPP Public Schools Jacksonville.
KIPP opened in Jacksonville in 2010 in a former greyhound track building with one class of fifth graders. It since has expanded to more than 1,600 students, 97% of whom are Black. Seventy to 80% of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. KIPP also has three campuses in Miami-Dade County.
The national network of 255 public charter schools, which launched in Houston, is dedicated to preparing students in educationally underserved communities for success in college and life. KIPP schools have expanded since 1994 to serve more than 100,000 students. Nationwide, KIPP students earn bachelor’s degrees at a rate of 35%, comparable to the national average for all students and approximately three times higher than the average for students from low-income families.