Expected growth might mean Alva needs a new high school

Reporter: Annette Montgomery
Published: Updated:
Lee County School Board. CREDIT: WINK News

As Lee County’s population continues to grow, the school district is working to prepare, but it’s coming with push-back from not only neighbors but school board members, too.

At a Lee County School Board meeting, Tuesday, the board moved forward with beginning phase 1 of pre-construction for a high school on Joel Boulevard and Tuckahoe Road in Alva.

Multiple neighbors voiced their concerns about increased traffic and congestion.

But Lee County schools superintendent Christopher Bernier said with the number of high school students projected to be in the area over the next decade, a new high school is necessary.

Neighbors and teachers living in Alva made what they wanted clear to the Lee County School Board Tuesday night.

“This is not the right time or place for another Alva school,” said Grant Fichter, an Alva resident.

They also made what they didn’t want crystal clear.

“I am a teacher and Alva resident. The infrastructure is not safe for a huge school here in Alva,” said Heather Ware, a teacher in Lee County.

“I’m against building the high school there on Joel. There’s far too much congestion right now. The roads are narrow. There are lots of accidents,” said Wendy Sprague, an Alva resident.

Neighbors weren’t the only ones voicing their concerns about a new high school on Joel Boulevard and Tuckahoe Road, not to mention the huge price tag.

“This is a county that doesn’t plan. It builds where it wants to build. It doesn’t provide or require builders to set aside land for libraries, for schools, for greenspace. The consequence of that is we are left looking at sizeable pieces of property that are not allowable for commercial building but are allowable for public building, and that is how we ended up where we are,” said Cathleen Morgan, a Lee County School Board member.

But Bernier and other school board members made it clear that growth suggests their district needs a new high school and in Alva.

“The projected number of high school students in E3 is 3,543 for the 2023-2024 school year and that grows to 5,682 by 2033,” said Bernier. “The current estimate high school capacity in E3 is only 1,929.”

“We care, but we have to make the best decision for this district, and I am sorry you’re not going to agree with that,” said Samuel Fisher, a Lee County School Board member.

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