JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of the nation’s fastest-growing, tuition-free public charter school systems opened the doors to its two Jacksonville campuses.
The IDEA Bassett on the Northside and IDEA River Bluff in Arlington will serve 1,000 children this year — with about 500 students at each campus.
The schools are expected to grow over the next six years with more grades and students being added every year. The goal is to make the first day back as smooth and productive as possible and set the tone for the rest of the academic year.
IDEA schools tackled issues like safety, staffing shortages, and bus routes ahead of time. Construction wrapped up just days before the first day of class.
Katoya McCaskill, the principal for IDEA Bassett, said back-to-school readiness is a joint effort.
“My partner and I, Ms. Jackson, the elementary school principal — we’ve really made a point to build relationships in our area with our parents,” McCaskill said. “Bassett is a community, and we are building the dream together.”
As of now, each campus will teach kindergarten through second grade and sixth grade. They’ll add two new grade levels each year until the campuses serve Kindergarten through 12th grades. IDEA hopes to have that done by 2028.
According to state data, charter schools in our area have performed lower than Duval County Public Schools in the past.
During the 2014-2015 school year, only 26% of charter schools in Duval County earned an A or B. That’s lower than the 40% of district-run schools.
IDEA says it is putting a heavy focus on student engagement.
“We ensure that our kids get interventions that they need but also the enrichment that they need as well,” McCaskill said.
Michelle Flores, an elementary school teacher at IDEA River Bluff, said setting students up for success is having teachers who care.
“I love teaching, I love reading, I love writing, and that’s what I bring to my classroom every day and that’s what I can say for all of my team members,” Flores said.
As far as school safety goes, IDEA Schools is requiring every person who enters the building — including students — to have their ID checked.
There will also be an armed security guard on campus as well.