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Charter school considering converting mall into school

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Updated: 2/03 7:32 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A large portion of the buildings in the Gateway shopping center are empty, but they could be filled with students this fall if plans work out.

A proposal has been submitted and negotiations are underway for Valor Academy of Leadership to take over the Gateway Mall. School organizer Cleve Warren says it's a great spot.

“Because it's in the neighborhood for the kids that we're specifically targeting, it would be convenient for them to get to and from school, and it's one of several good locations,” said Warren.

Warren says if the mall is secured, it will be retrofitted to accommodate an all-girls and an all-boys school. Trey Csar with the Jacksonville Public Education Fund says there is a need for a special environment targeting young black males.

“Low-income men, particularly low-income African American men in Jacksonville, really have the worst academic outcomes of any subgroup in our public school system, so it's an area where the district is focusing a lot of energy,” said Csar.

Charter school organizers say local businesses would also see a boost from the school, which is set to open in a few months.

“With kids and their families in particular in the area at the school, it should do well to generate business for the remaining businesses that are there,” said Warren.

Valor Academy officials say they expect to hear whether their bid has been accepted any day now.
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