Data shows overcrowding in Lee County’s public schools, mostly in East Zone

Reporter: Peter Fleischer
Published: Updated:

New numbers show dozens of overcrowded public schools across Lee County, and some officials hope the data will help funnel resources into the schools that need it most.

It took 46 days for our records request to be fulfilled by the School District of Lee County, and the data lists 28 schools at 100% capacity or higher, with eight schools sitting at 110% or higher.

The data measures the Florida Inventory of School Houses (FISH) capacity. It’s a tool used by the Florida Department of Education to measure students in “Permanent and relocatable buildings.”

The data shows the most overcrowded school is Three Oaks Elementary, which is in the South Zone and sits at 121% capacity, but that’s an outlier.

MAP: School District of Lee County Zones and Districts

We found that 16 of the 28 schools at or above 100% capacity sit in the East Zone, which includes Lehigh Acres. And seven of the top 10 most crowded schools sit in the East Zone, which are between 108% and 119% capacity.

Lee County School Board Member Gwyn Gittens, who represents District 5, hopes the District will use this data to drive resources to areas that need them most.

“Are we giving the resources to the schools that need to have the most help?” she questioned. “Because ultimately our goal should be to be an ‘A’ District, meaning every school would have the same resources.”

Gittens said most of the overcrowded schools have something in common. “We find there’s high incidents of minorities and high incidents of economically disabled students,” she explained. “I think that ability to change and to shift and to re-evaluate resources is going to be the success of this District.”

The District does have several new school projects scheduled in the East Zone, but they’ll take years to complete.

Multiple officials have told us they’ll push for faster relief to overcrowded schools in the weeks to come.

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