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Charter school breaks ground on former Cincinnati Christian University campus in Price Hill

Former Cincinnati Christian University building
Becca Costello
A building on the former Cincinnati Christian University campus, which will soon become high school classrooms for IDEA Public Schools, a Texas-based charter school.

A Texas-based charter school broke ground on a new school in Price Hill Tuesday. IDEA Public Schools is renovating the now-vacant campus of Cincinnati Christian University, which shut down nearly two years ago.

"We're opening with kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and then seventh grade as well," said Matt Kyle, executive director of IDEA's Cincinnati office. "Any student that will be in those grade levels next August will have the chance to attend."

IDEA will eventually offer K-12 education at the same campus. Kyle says IDEA has expanded into Louisiana and Florida, and now Ohio.

"We look for cities and communities where we feel like we might be able to help in some way," Kyle said. "Where our mission of sending all students to college, with no barriers in terms of access — there's no tuition, no tests to get in — is something that families might be interested in."

Kyle says over the last 15 years, 100% of seniors graduating from an IDEA school has been accepted into college.

CCU closed in December 2019and the property sold last year. IDEA plans to demolish the two residence halls next April and renovate the remaining buildings into classrooms and offices, and add a few playgrounds throughout the campus.

Until recently, state funding for charter schools (sometimes called "community schools" in Ohio) was directly deducted from the traditional public school each student left. The current state budget changed that process - the state now pays each charter school directly based on the number of students enrolled. Critics of the charter system say it's still an unfair diversion of funding away from traditional public schools.

"Our model relies on state funding, so that moves with the child no matter where they might go to school," Kyle said. "We actually have a fairly lean budget where we're just very effective budget managers around making sure that we maximize every dollar we spend."

IDEA Price Hill is scheduled to open in August 2022. Kyle says they expect enrollment of up to 500 students the first year.

IDEA plans to open another local school next year in Woodlawn, at the site of the now-shuttered Brown Mackie College on Glendale Milford Road. That location will open in August 2022 with kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and sixth grade.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.