While Lee County students are off for spring break, workers are making sure one school in Lehigh Acres is eventually able to open with renovations that will benefit the entire community.
The budget for renovations to Veterans Park Academy for the Arts increased by more than $12 million because it is no longer just a refresh to make the old school look better: This project looks at rebuilding the school from the inside out.
The old Lehigh Acres Middle School had classrooms that were separated by flimsy walls and noise traveled between classrooms too easily. District leaders also say you had to first pass through certain classrooms in order to get to other ones. After these renovations, however, every classroom will be separated and have its own access point. The $18 million renovation project will also add new science labs, classrooms, dance, theater and music rooms to Veterans Park Academy and remodel the media center and cafeteria.
“This is a project that now basically takes it down to the studs, rebuilds it from the inside out, so that students that attend classes there in the middle school section of the Veterans Park next year basically have a new building on the indoors,” said Rob Spicker, spokesman for the School District of Lee County. ‘The next phase of the process is building a performing arts center that connects the two campuses, that is a place where the students in the art school can really put on a great show.”
These major renovations will not only change learning for students but transform the neighborhood, too. The next phase of this process will bring a performing arts center to Lehigh Acres, and although it will be owned by the school district, the community will also be allowed to rent it out.
“If there’s a theater group, a dance group that needs a performance base in Lehigh Acres, once the performing arts center is complete, then we would welcome them to come and rent that space and put on their performance right there in Lehigh Acres so that their parents and their audience doesn’t have to leave Lehigh, we can give them something that they don’t currently have,” Spicker said.
All four phases are expected to be finished by August 2025. District leaders say that once these renovations are complete they’ll be able to hold more middle school students in the east zone of the district.