Mixed emotions during demolition of Fort Myers Beach Elementary

Reporter: Tiffany Rizzo Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Families have mixed emotions as demolition moves ahead at Fort Myers Beach Elementary School, tearing down the outlying buildings ruined by Hurricane Ian.

They fought hard for the chance to rebuild and return to the school they all love so much, a staple in their community.

The School District of Lee County said removing those buildings is a safety measure in preparation for the students to return in November.

Though much of Fort Myers Beach Elementary faces demolition, the bones of the historic school will remain, and that’s where the renovations will be centered.

The goal is to complete the demolition of the outlying buildings by July 14. If all goes as planned, construction for the renovations is set to begin on Aug. 1.

The fate of the school was uncertain for months as people clashed over rebuilding it or moving on, but the demolition process is the beginning of a compromise for Fort Myers Beach Elementary’s future.

While kids and their parents are excited to return, seeing the demolition of a place that holds so many memories is bittersweet.

Fort Myers Beach Elementary
Credit: WINK News

“I love this school; like, this was the first grade school I ever went to, so this is heartbreaking to see this whole school actually be torn down,” said one student.

“Unfortunately, they weren’t possible to be rebuilt, because our front building—and you probably can see behind me—because it was historical, historical register, it didn’t have to fall under the FEMA guidelines,” said Fort Myers Beach parent John Koss. “So, that is the building that’s mainly going to be renovated for a smaller population of kids, which we have now.”

“It’s sad, but I know that I’ll be happy later because it’ll get rebuilt,” said another student. “It will finally be there and not be at San Carlos.”

“We are all striving to bring some normalcy to our children’s lives, and this is a really big step in doing that,” Koss said.

As the number of students at Fort Myers Beach Elementary returns to a healthy number, parents hope the school can eventually add more buildings.

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