Beach School Handprints Saved

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Earlier this week demolition began on the buildings surrounding the historic building at The Beach Elementary school. The school district contractors were able to save the sidewalks with decades of handprints from 5th graders who graduated from the school.

The pieces of sidewalk are now being stored on the basketball court at the NW corner of the property. The plan is to reset them on site when construction allows. There are a few remaining signature pads outside the demolition fencing. These were the oldest signature pads on the property and will remain where they are until there is direction from the district on what to do with them.

Last month, the Lee County School Board voted 7-0 to rebuild the Elementary School on Fort Myers Beach. The district will remediate the Historical Building, which would accommodate the 52 students now enrolled in the school by the Fall of 2023. The town and the district will then work together to increase enrollment, and reduce expenses at the school, to get the cost-per-student in line with Sanibel and Pine Island schools, the two other barrier island schools in Lee County.

If enrollment numbers increase the district says it’s committed to adding back the destroyed buildings on the Beach School campus. An inter-local agreement between the school district and Fort Myers Beach states that by 2024-2025 the district will build additional facilities on the campus to accommodate a permanent kitchen/cafe. Also, by 2024-2025 the district will improve the Historic Building with additional classroom space to accommodate up to 80 students. After that, the school board will design and construct additional facilities to accommodate no more than 150 students.

Part of the inter-local agreement between the school district and Fort Myers Beach is that the town remediate Bay Oaks so the facility can be used for the after school program at the beach school. Bay Oaks was severely damaged by Hurricane Ian last September.