Lee County School District has a new proposed 10 year plan

Reporter: Olivia Jean
Published: Updated:

More than 27,000 students are on their way to Southwest Florida’s largest school district.

District leaders came to that number in their ten-year student growth forecast, which has helped them decide how they will use your money for improvements and building new schools.

The east zone, Lehigh Acres, is seeing the most growth in the area, according to the school district, which is why they are looking to build 10 new schools, across all school levels, in this area under the proposal.

While kids are enjoying their summer break, the Lee County School District is hard at work. A new presentation, new numbers, and a new plan is being proposed.

Dr. Adam Molloy, the Director of Planning, Growth, and Capacity at the school district gave the presentation on Wednesday.

“The school district of Lee County is projected to have now 115,619 traditional K-12 students,” Molloy said.

“The accompanying graph shows student totals at 10-year intervals starting in 2003. Highlighting the significant population increase over the past decade, the school district of Lee County has experienced a compound annual growth rate of 1.61%. That translates to an average annual increase of 1328 students. If enrollment reaches 115,619 students as it’s projected by Davis Demographics, it will exceed our current students station capacity by 22,082 seats,” Molloy said.

The school district knows they have to do something soon. They said they are already at 94.3% of occupied seats and will not be able to keep up with the need.

“I think they work so hard for our kids and everybody in the community, so it’s a good district,” Hemel Rojas, a parent to a student of Lee County School District said.

Rojas’ 10-year-old daughter, Patricia, goes to Hector Cafferata Jr. Elementary School, which is on the list for upgrades. It was destroyed by Hurricane Ian and will soon be expanded to include additional grade levels.

Patricia told WINK News Reporter Olivia Jean how excited she is to have a new school campus and for others to have the same.

“Then more kids get more education. So, then more kids can get more jobs when they’re older and have a good life,” Patricia Rojas said.

The school district is looking to add 13,000 new classroom seats, costing $1.4 billion in the latest 10-year capital plan. More than 22,000 students could be added if growth continues at the current pace.

“A lot of people coming here, and they have kids, so we are supposed to have new schools for everybody is good. If they are trying to build new schools, that will be good,” Rojas said.

Challenges under the plan are increased debt, pushing back maintenance for other buildings and delaying two school builds. The district said this is a challenge since they have never added so many seats in its history and it’s all in an effort to make sure they keep up with growth.

The school board still needs to approve the proposed plan.

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