Parents of students speak at Lee County school board meeting

Reporter: Claire Galt, Taylor Wirtz Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

On Tuesday night, the Lee County school board held a meeting for parents, students, and teachers of the schools that received the most damage can tell the board how they feel.

Students, like Casey and Dylan, and their parents love Fort Myers Beach Elementary.

“We love it, and we miss it, and we want it to open,” Casey said.

And they want everyone on the Lee County School Board to know it.

“I really miss my school,” Dylan said.

Their small stature didn’t prevent them from being a large voice in the room.

“Mrs. Michelle, Mr. Fraley. I have Miss Hinkle. She’s getting married. So her name’s gonna be Mrs. Nanometers,” Casey and Dylan said.

Grandmothers, like Jane Plummer, whose children and grandchildren have all gone to and leaned on the Fort Myers Beach school spoke their minds too.

“Without our school, we’re hotels and rental properties,” Plummer said.

Moms and dads said it’s time for the district to commit to rebuilding Fort Myers Beach Elementary.

One of those parents is Leah Lynch, who expressed her feelings about the schools and community.

“Our beach kids are amazing and so very special. It is disappointing that this is even a question to open our school or not. I understand that the cost is a concern, but this is not only an investment in our children but in our future,” Lynch said.

“We want to make clear that it’s a very important part of our community’s foundation in order to have a school there because we are a family community, we’re not a resort town,” parents Dustin and Monica Schmucker said.

“Hear us and realize that this community does need a school, you know, especially since we’re in a period of rebuild, and it’s got history, the kids, you know, it’s their home, and they want to be back in the school,” Chantal Blais, a parent said.

They urged the board to make decisions based on more than just numbers.

“You have to believe in us. Do not write us off,” a Fort Myers Beach business owner said.

Board member Debbie Jordan told WINK News the school district is not yet ready to commit to rebuilding Fort Myers Beach Elementary, but at the school board meeting, they will listen to every parent.

“We are certainly happy to hear what everyone has to say, you know because it’s really important to them. And it’s important for us to hear what they have to say as well,” Jordan said.

John R. King from the Fort Myers Beach Town council spoke during the meeting.

“As an elected official I understand the bottom line, dollars, and cents in decision making. However, you’ll be making a critical error if that’s all you’re basing this decision on,” King said.

Fort Myers Beach Elementary was not the only school the board heard about during the meeting.

While no decisions were made during the Tuesday night meeting, the board tried to give all speakers some peace of mind.

“I’ve heard you. And I’m excited to get to work to have resolution for your school. And what that looks like. And I know the superintendent and his staff are working diligently on that to have,” Lee County school board member, Melissa Giovannelli said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Lee County School District confirmed it submitted a damage estimate of $230,000,000 to the Florida Department of Education on Nov. 1.

The district is not ready to say whether it will rebuild Fort Myers Beach Elementary, but all board members came to the meeting with open minds.

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