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Days after purchasing land for a school that will serve north Baton Rouge, a Texas-based education group is close to gaining control of another tract to open a second campus, one that will focus on south Baton Rouge.

IDEA Public Schools is already beginning construction on the former and plans to start work on the latter within the next month. The two new charter schools are scheduled to open in fall 2018. The group plans to start additional schools in Baton Rouge in 2020 and 2021.

On Aug. 18, IDEA bought 14.3 acres north of Cortana Mall for $1.4 million for its north Baton Rouge school. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled Tuesday morning at the corner of Airway and Tom drives. The school is being built by Milton J. Womack Inc.

For its second school, IDEA has long had designs on 10 acres of LSU property near Gardere in the university’s Innovation Park. A nonprofit group, New Schools for Baton Rouge, is leading the effort to acquire the property, build the school and then lease it back to IDEA in a lease-to-own arrangement.

In May 2016, IDEA won approval from the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board to open up to four charter schools in the Capital City. IDEA’s contract allows the group to enroll as many as 6,144 students and state law would allow it to enroll another 1,228.

A charter school is a public school run by a private organization via a charter, or contract.

New Schools first approached LSU early in summer 2016 about leasing the Innovation Park property. New Schools recruited IDEA to Baton Rouge and is offering the Rio Grande Valley-based group financial support.

But after lengthy discussions, LSU opted against leasing the property, but agreed instead to do a land swap.

The LSU Board of Supervisors blessed the move at its June 21 meeting, but it took two more months to finalize the deal.

Dan Layzell, LSU executive vice president and chief financial officer, said that in late August New Schools’ "construction arm", NSBR Facilities Inc., put down a deposit to buy a parking lot, once home to a McDonald’s, on West State Street next to the university.

Chris Meyer, CEO of New Schools for Baton Rouge, declined to say from whom the company is buying the property, citing a nondisclosure agreement that's in place until the sale goes through.

The property last changed hands in June 2007 when it was purchased for just over $1 million by Campus State-Chimes LLC. According to the Louisiana Secretary of State, that company has one officer, David Adelman, of Philadelphia. Adelman is CEO of Campus Apartments, which describes itself as "one of the nation’s largest providers of on- and off-campus student housing."

Once the sale closes possibly in mid-September, New Schools plans to immediately sign over West State Street property to LSU in exchange for the Innovation Park property, which is two miles southeast of the main campus, Layzell said.

Both properties were recently assessed and are valued at around $1.8 million.

“We’re always looking for property immediately adjacent to campus,” Layzell said.

Layzell said the university will likely convert the lot to student parking, of which there is never enough. He said LSU later might use it for something else, but has no immediate alternate plans.

Once the swap is complete, NSBR Facilities Inc. plans to move quickly to construction. Both the north and south Baton Rouge schools are using similar designs prepared by GraceHebert architects of Baton Rouge. The facilities are set for completion by August 2018, in time for the start of the 2018-19 school year.

“We’re going to make it happen,” promised Ken Campbell, executive director of IDEA Public Schools in Louisiana.

Campbell in June had floated the possibility of IDEA holding school in a temporary facility for six months to a year if the LSU land swap took too long, but he says he’s confident it can be finished in time.

Chris Meyer, CEO of New Schools for Baton Rouge, said he’s glad the deal is finally happening.

“We’re just excited to get this done, getting on to breaking ground later this month and putting a world class school there,” Meyer said.

IDEA, which started in the Rio Grande Valley, runs 51 schools and educates 30,000 children and has schools that have made national best high school lists. All of its schools so far are in Texas, in the Rio Grande, Austin and San Antonio areas.

Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier