Wannabe Entertainment
"LeBron’s ‘I Promise School’ To Cost Taxpayers Millions Of Dollars Every Year"

Wannabe Entertainment on Tuesday, August 7th, 2018 in a blog post

Half-True

LeBron James's Akron school won't cost taxpayers more money

An entertainment blog took a shot at LeBron James for not paying a fair share of the cost of his I Promise School in Akron, Ohio.

Wannabe Entertainment published a story criticizing national media for not acknowledging that James isn’t paying for the bulk of the school’s costs. Its headline paints taxpayers as bearers of the burden for the school, which opened July 30.

"LeBron’s ‘I Promise School’ To Cost Taxpayers Millions Of Dollars Every Year," it says.

Wannabe Entertainment is correct that taxpayers will pay millions of dollars for the school. However, the framing of the article could mislead readers to believe taxpayers will pay millions of dollars on top of what they were paying before, which is not the case.

The first few paragraphs of the story are lifted straight from an Aug. 5 Cleveland Plain Dealer story. After that, the Wannabe Entertainment story switches to a diatribe about Trump's tweeted critique of James and CNN's Don Lemon after an interview and the "entire anti-Trump universe" coming to the basketball star's defense. Its version does not go on, as the Plain Dealer did, to credit James's investment.

The I Promise School is a first-through-eighth grade public school that is part of the Akron Public School District.

Because it is a public school, the LeBron James Family Foundation will foot a portion of the cost, but not the entire bill.

"This is a public school," Akron Public Schools spokesman Mark Williamson told PolitiFact. "Taxpayers support all of our schools including this one."

Public schools are funded by the state, property taxes and federal funds. So by law, the LeBron James Family Foundation cannot fully fund the school if it wanted to.

The foundation pays for the additional services at the school that the other schools in the district do not have, including GED classes and job placement for parents, guest speakers and a food pantry.

Stephanie Rosa, a spokeswoman for the LeBron James Family Foundation, told PolitiFact the foundation hasn’t added up how much it contributed to the school.

A $2 million rough estimate covered some building renovations, such as rewiring for technology and staff hires for the family center. But the amount of money spent up until the day the school opened has not been made public.

Before the opening of James’s school, the I Promise program had been in Akron elementary schools for more than 10 years. There are 32 elementary schools and kids from all those schools were in the program but now in one location.

"It’s not a new program, not new students, not even a new building," Williamson said.

Point being, taxpayers were going to pay for the students whether or not James got involved.

There are 46 schools in the Akron Public School District. Williamson said 35 of those schools have been rebuilt and during that time, the home of the current I Promise school served as the temporary school for those students who were displaced in that in-between time.

"For about 15 years, this building housed every student from every school that has been rebuilt," Williamson said.

Williamson said the 240 students enrolled at I Promise were already in the program but in their respective elementary schools.

"All we’re doing is taking kids that we already support and putting them in a different location," he said.

The cost of educating the students is consistent. So are the teachers’ salaries.

The opening of this school puts all the students in the I Promise program under one roof from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., July through May. There are no additional costs because the district didn’t hire any new teachers or recruit new students.

Our ruling

A story on Wannabeent.com says, "Lebron’s ‘I Promise School’ To Cost Taxpayers Millions Of Dollars Every Year."

The headline and subsequent story might leave people thinking James’ school will be a drag on taxpayer resources. But taxpayers are paying the same amount of money they’d pay whether or not James got involved. James’s foundation is funding enhancements meant to try to elevate students attending the school.

The statement is partially accurate. We rate it Half True.

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