Las Vegas Sun

January 16, 2018

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Agassi says latest charter school ‘a dream come realized’

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Chris Kudialis

Andre Agassi, center right, and Bobby Turner, center left, of the Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund interact with first-graders Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, at Mater Bonanza Academy in Las Vegas. The charter school opened in August 2017.

With more than 1.2 million students nationwide waiting to get into public charter schools, it is important to expand such opportunities, charter advocates said today at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new school in the east valley.

Funding partners Andre Agassi and Bobby Turner joined Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Coffin, state Sen. Mo Denis and school Principal Amy Gronna at the ceremonial opening of Mater Bonanza Academy, which serves nearly 800 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“This is a dream come realized,” Agassi said.

The academy, which provides students 45 more minutes of instruction a day than schools in the Clark County School District, serves nearly 600 students whose native language is not English, Gronna said. It opened in August, with a goal of bringing struggling students to grade-level proficiency in math, science, English and reading.

“Low income does not mean low chances of success,” said Judith Marty of Florida-based Mater Academy Inc. “Every child has a chance for success.”

As part of today’s events, Agassi and Turner, who own and lease the 55,000-square-foot building on five acres near Bonanza and Nellis boulevards, toured the school.

When a first-grader asked Agassi why he invested in the academy, Agassi, who dropped out of school after eighth grade to focus on his tennis career, said he hoped the academy would give students “a chance at education.”

“I started thinking about kids who don’t have a choice in their lives because they don’t have a quality education,” Agassi said. “Sometimes, you’re not as lucky as I was, being at the top of a sport.”

Turner said he and Agassi have funded 79 schools nationwide since 2011 — including 29 in Las Vegas — but there’s still “a long way to go.” They plan to lease land to build 50 more schools by 2020, he said.