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Transforming the former CCU campus into a K-12 charter school is a massive undertaking

IDEA sign between two evergreens above stone wall.jpg
Ann Thompson
/
WVXU
IDEA will open with a limited number of students this fall. Eventually it will serve 1,500 K-12 students on this East Price Hill campus. Another school is in Woodlawn.

It’s been more than two years since Cincinnati Christian University closed its doors in East Price Hill after it ran out of money. Students were left with some hard decisions, as WVXU reported in late 2019.

This fall, the campus will no longer be empty. IDEA Public Schools bought the 30-acre site and is retrofitting it into a charter school. The Texas-based company with more than 140 schools nationwide is taking a limited number of students in Cincinnati to start (Grades K-2 and 7). Initially, 500 students will enroll. That number is expected to grow to 1,500.

Another campus, Valley View in Woodlawn, will also open this fall.

Executive Director Matt Kyle says if you graduated from the East Price Hill college you will notice big changes like demolition of the dorms, fewer offices, more classrooms and new playgrounds.

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Ann Thompson
/
WVXU
IDEA Cincinnati Executive Director Matt Kyle stands in front of the building all students will take classes in the first year.

This is the biggest construction project IDEA has done.

“Traditionally, we have in Texas and our other areas around 12-15 acres and about 120,000-square feet. This site is well over 30 acres and 150,000-square feet," Kyle says.

Fixtures and furniture from CCU have been donated to the Cincinnati Music Accelerator and the Findlay Kitchen.

Initially, all students will be in one building (President’s Hall at CCU) and then be separated other years into elementary, junior high and high school buildings when construction is complete.

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Ann Thompson
/
WVXU
The gym already has the IDEA lion mascot.

IDEA is in the middle of registration. Kyle says the student population is diverse.

“We have a large number of families that have a Hispanic background or Spanish-speaking in the home — African American, white/Anglo. Price Hill was blessed to be a very diverse community and we seek to have our schools representative of the communities that we’re in,” he says.

Kyle boasts for the last 16 years, all students from all of its campuses have been accepted into college. He jokes one distraction in the new chemistry lab here could be “the gorgeous view of Cincinnati.”

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Ann Thompson
/
WVXU
The view from a high school chemistry classroom.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.