The Lee County School Board met on Wednesday to figure out the future of a school destroyed by Hurricane Ian. The board discussed the future of Fort Myers Beach Elementary.
Some supported the beach school opening no matter what, while others said they’re looking at the cost versus the number of students enrolled.
It’s a heated $25,000,000 debate. That $25,000,000 represents the cost of rebuilding Fort Myers Beach Elementary. And for months, parents have made their feelings known about the school.
Wednesday, WINK News got an idea of how Lee County school board members feel.
“Board members are being asked to feel a moral obligation to the fort myers beach community, but we have an ethical obligation as a board to provide a fair and ethical response,” school board member Cathleen Morgan said.
And Morgan explained that means considering the cost against how many students a new school might serve, but Armor Person disagrees.
“We need to put the kids first, and that means getting them back to school on the island,” school board member Armor Persons said.
And no two board members feel the same way.
“I hope we can get out enrollment up, but i’m not convinced that’s the case,” school board member Chris Patricca said.
“We need to get a little bit closer to bringing back that family unit and not shipping kids off the beach,” Jordan said.
The options the school board debated are almost identical to those presented in December. The first option is to restore the school, take away some outer buildings, and clean up the site. In the meantime, students would relocate to neighboring schools.
The second option is to restore the building and stabilize the campus. Then make additional site improvements in a second phase if enrollment increases and consider rebuilding.
The third option is to create a portable campus with a plan to begin classroom instructions in Fall 2023.
In the end, most board members seemed to support the second option of going to the site and making the improvements only if they could get more kids to enroll.
But that is not the final decision.