Southeast Florida Roundup
A tale of two schools
Palm Beach County boasts two schools founded and supported by local billionaires.
Oxbridge Academy of The Palm Beaches
West Palm Beach
- Founded: 2011
- Students: 500 high schoolers
- Founder: Billionaire Bill Koch, founder of West Palm Beach-based energy company OxBow Carbon. He’s put a reported $75 million into the school.
- Upcoming: It will begin adding international students in 2018.
- Student-teacher ratio: 9:1.
- Tuition: $32,800 — 43% of students receive financial aid.
- Unusual programs: Aviation, including a professional flight simulator, which, according to the manufacturer’s website, starts at $89,000. Also, Oxbridge has a partnership with Cambridge University in England through which 15 students each year spend two weeks at Cambridge.
- Novel writing: Nearly 400 students over the last four years have taken up a “National Novel Writing Month” challenge to craft a 30,000-word novel.
- Sports: The typical ones, plus equestrian and sailing. (Koch led a winning America’s Cup team in 1992.)
- Controversy: In 2016, Koch sacked the school’s senior executive, who made nearly $700,000 a year, and parted ways with the athletic director and football coach. Koch told the New York Times that a “power elites group” ran “the asylum.” Koch, according to IRS filings for the non-profit school, continues to pump millions into it.
The Greene School
West Palm Beach
- Founded: 2016
- Students: 80 in pre-K through 6th grade
- Founder: Billionaire investor Jeff Greene, who made his fortune in real estate, and his wife, Mei Sze Chan, who have three sons ages 3, 5 and 7, founded the school to serve “the most gifted students in Palm Beach County.”
- Upcoming: It will add seventh and eighth grades for the 2018-19 school year. New facilities, including a gym, theater and media production facilities, are under construction. Greene expects to grow to 160 students.
- Student-teacher ratio: 2:1. Beginning with kindergarten, applicants have to take an IQ test.
- Tuition: $20,000 to $27,000, depending on the grade. Greene funds financial aid. He frowns on fundraisers. “We want everyone at the school focused on one thing, creating a world-class education for our kids. We want the best facilities, best curriculum, best student body, best education. We want everyone focused on that. I’m happy to do it. I’m very fortunate I can afford it.”
- Unusual programs: Robotics, coding, dance, yoga and meditation — and a collaborative work space with 3-D printers.
- Quote: “When these kids and parents tell me how — especially the parents — how they’ve changed their lives … it’s just been the most rewarding thing we’ve done. I’m just thrilled with the results,” Greene says.
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