New Lehigh Acres school to ease classroom overcrowding

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Paul Dolan
Construction for a new Lehigh Acres school. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Overcrowding in classrooms is a problem but now one Southwest Florida community is getting some help.

Construction has started for a new elementary school is being built in Lehigh Acres to be open next August.

The panels which will be the walls of Amanecer Elementary are going up. And when construction is done close to 1,000 students and 60 teachers will call this their school.

Some people see construction workers at work. Gwyn Gittens, a Lee County board member sees the possibilities. “We need more space, we need more schools,” Gittens said.

A board showcasing possible features that the Lehigh Acres school will have. (CREDIT: WINK News)

She has argued the point for years and pointed to a problem with overcrowding in classrooms, especially in Lehigh. “One of the things that I am most proud of is working from, I think it was 2019 until 2022, to stop the district from spending the money to build in another area when we needed schools here,” Gittens said.

in 2021 WINK News investigated overcrowding in Lee County schools. Our report showed that in the east zone, 16 of 28 schools were at or above 100% capacity. Holly Matthews, the soon-to-be principal of Amanecer Elementary said the new campus will be a saving grace.

“Not just to the east zone, but to Lee County as a whole,” Matthews said.

One less worry but the Florida Department of Education said teacher shortages are an ever bigger concern. 24 Lee County schools are on the critical teacher shortage high priority list for the upcoming school year.

When asked if she thinks they’ll have enough teachers, Matthews’s response was very clear. “Absolutely. Yes. Yes. Yes,” Matthews said. “I am confident that we will have teachers for our campus for sure.”

Safety is worth noting, elementary schools do not have security guards. But, they do have a school resource officer. A district spokesperson said there will be a single point of entry for guests and visitors when the school opens in August 2023.

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