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By KATHRYN EASTBURN The Daily News

Odyssey Academy, a publicly funded charter school, will expand its presence in Galveston County with a Texas City campus scheduled to open in August.

Representatives from the charter school organization on Friday signed a 10-year lease with businessman Jerome Karam for 50,000 square feet in Karam’s 800,000-square-foot property formerly called Mall of the Mainland, now named Mainland City Centre, at 10000 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway.

“We were approached by their Realtor, who introduced the project to us,” Karam said.

The school will be on the back side of the former mall, near the movie theater complex in a part of the building that had remained largely unfinished, said Matthew Sherman, Odyssey’s operations officer.

The school will be the third Odyssey Academy campus in the area, joining a prekindergarten-through-12th-grade school, Odyssey Academy Galveston, 2412 61st St., and a pre-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade campus, Odyssey Academy Bay Area, at 2600 Stanley Lane in El Lago, between Seabrook and Kemah in Harris County.

Odyssey campuses accommodate about 1,200 students, according to the school’s website, and the organization expects to open the Texas City campus with 220 students.

“We have a very large number of students that attend our campuses in Galveston and the Seabrook area but live in Texas City,” Sherman said.

“That’s our first goal, to provide a space for them that’s closer to home,” he said.

Beyond providing a more convenient location for Texas City students, the new facility will open up space to add more students at its Galveston and El Lago locations, Sherman said.

“Typically, we have waiting lists approaching 400, with an average of 200 to 300,” he said. The Texas City school, which will share the name Odyssey  Academy Bay Area, will open with classrooms for 3-year-old pre-kindergarten students through sixth-graders, and will add grades over the next several years, he said.

“Our goal over 10 years will be to have two classes per grade level, starting at pre-K and going through eighth grade, growing the school to a maximum of 440 kids or so,” Sherman said.

Odyssey plans initially to build out 40,000 square feet of the 50,000 square feet leased, then build out the remaining 10,000 square feet as needed, Sherman said.

New students can begin enrolling on Feb. 3.

Odyssey Academy Galveston was founded in 1999 and originally was on 13th Street in a location that flooded during Hurricane Ike in 2008, driving its 400 students to attend classes temporarily at Moody Memorial First United Methodist Church on 53rd Street before moving to the 61st Street building, formerly an H-E-B grocery store.

Odyssey Academy Bay Area took over the campuses of Bay Area Charter Schools in 2015 when Bay Area’s charter was revoked by the Texas Education Agency for failure to meet academic standards for three consecutive school years. Odyssey moved into the El Lago location the next year.

An open-enrollment public charter school, Odyssey places a strong focus on developing leadership skills in students of all ages, Sherman said. The schools adhere to the publicly traded personal development company FranklinCovey Education’s Leader In Me curriculum and also maintain a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics focus, Sherman said.

Odyssey Academy Galveston received an overall accountability rating of B from the Texas Education Agency in 2019 and Odyssey Academy Bay Area rated an overall D, with areas noted for targeted support and improvement, according to Texas Education Agency records. Odyssey was founded by Robert Mosbacher, founder of Mosbacher Energy Co. and U.S. Secretary of Commerce for President George H.W. Bush.