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Tuition-free charter school finalizes first location in Jacksonville

IDEA Schools, currently in Texas and Louisiana, is opening up their first Jacksonville campus in Fall 2022.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Your child will soon have more education options in Jacksonville. 

A tuition-free charter school is starting to build schools in Jacksonville with plans to open up for the 2022-2023 school year. 

Off Lem Turner Road, slightly behind Rose's Discount Store, you'll find an overgrown lot. That's where the first IDEA School of Jacksonville will go.

The address is 1845 Bassett Road. 

IDEA Schools are currently in Texas and Louisiana. They're expanding into Florida and Ohio right now.

In Duval County, you can expect to see some familiar faces in the halls like Simaran Bakshi.

 After 15 years in Duval County as an educator, Bakshi believes the IDEA charter school will be impactful in our community. She is now the Vice President of IDEA Schools for Jacksonville 

“We push them, push them, push them and when we are raising the bar that 100% of our students are going to college, I believe everybody else will also kind of want to do that," Bakshi said. "I think every child deserves that.”

It’s not just an idea that 100% of their students go to college. It’s a stat they are proud of. 

Since IDEA Schools opened in 2000, every student has been accepted to college. Everyone at these schools take AP classes as well. 

Catherine Cecere, Regional Dir. Of Operations, is also a Duval County parent. "What I feel most passionate about are students in Duval County," Cecere said. "I am a parent myself and the idea of school choice and having a lot of strong choices is important to me and I believe it is important to other parents.”

Principals and teachers are trained at least a year ahead of time to teach at an IDEA school. Curtis Lawrence will be one of the principals in Jacksonville. He’s currently a principal at one of their schools in Louisiana.

“Many times in the communities that we serve, everyone is not given that opportunity or that push or that belief that all kids can be successful and matriculate into a 4-year college or university," Lawrence said. He says the opportunity for all students is what drew him to the program.

How do you enroll your kid? It’s too soon, but when it opens up it will be a lottery system.

The school is free and funded through the Schools of Hope legislation and other state funding similar to public school funding.

In their first year in Jacksonville, the school will have 500 kids in kindergarten, first, second, and sixth grades. The school will expand to eventually include K-12. 

IDEA Schools spokesperson Jennifer Flores says there will be a second location opening for fall 2022 as well. That location has not been announced yet.