Today at 1PM the Lee County School Board will review three options regarding the Beach School (see below). The public is invited to attend to speak at public comment before the board reviews the three options. A final vote on what will happen to the school will take place next month.
Hurricane Ian ripped through Fort Myers Beach and severely damaged the school. The School District has been slow to clean the school and many on the island believe the district is using the storm as an excuse to close the facility, which they say costs over $21,000 per student to operate because of the low enrollment numbers.
Members of the ad-hoc committee put together a plan to increase enrollment, which includes employees of resorts when they open, recruiting students who live off the island and creating a magnet school with specialty curriculum. Here’s a chart of how the committee sees the enrollment growing.
They say when that enrollment plan is increased.
Enrollment at the Beach School has been trending down since 2004. The school board vote will most likely come down to whether members believe enrollment will increase in the next 3 to 5 years. Of course, a deserted island due to a catastrophic hurricane does not work in the favor of the beach parents right now.
The School Board will hear public comment and review the options below on February 22nd. They will pick one of the three at a meeting in March. For now, and the foreseeable future, beach kids will be bused off the island to San Carlos Elementary.
Watch the episode with John Koss and Monica Schmucker HERE.
Here’s how you can contact lee County School Board members directly:
Armor Persons, District 5 (Chair)
Samuel Fisher, District 1 (Vice Chair)
Melisa W. Giovannelli, District 2
Chris N. Patricca, District 3 (includes Fort Myers Beach)
Debbie Jordan, District 4
Jada Langford Fleming, District 6
Cathleen O’Daniel Morgan, District 7
Here are the three options the school board will consider.
Instead of rebuilding FMB school add on the heights school. Doubt they would need much. In the mean time put temp. Mobile classrooms up to accommodate some classes at height’s school. That is the closest school for FMB, and that’s where the 80 some kids should go. The beach school has had a wonderful run. Time to shut it down. There will be less kids living on the beach, because a whole new adjustment will be made in expense just to afford to live here. This will be more of a tourist area, rather then full time families. Good luck on whatever is decided, but be realistic in this decision..
I would question the logic of having a school on the island in the first place. The elementary school was very nice and nostalgic but the entire complexion of the island has changed (and will continue to change) in the last few years. We bought a condo in 2019 and are permanent residents; but even with a pension and several 401Ks in reserve, we are barely able to afford FMB. How are working families going to afford island living? The wealthy are just going to send their kids to private schools anyway. Stop trying to preserve the past, it is never going to come back.
There are a lot of working families that are affording the island and bought here specifically for the beach school. A private school isn’t really an option due to logistics of transportation. Our children have been displaced from their school on top of the the trauma of the island change. Please open your mind to see the other side.
You don’t have to live on the island to have your child go to school. It’s for workers too.
Christine, I appreciate the question. There are a lot of families like ours that live on the island–many of us are trying to keep our community together by rebuilding our homes and keeping our kids together in our school.
It’s a lot to manage, and the school honestly is what’s KEEPING families on the island and preventing it from truly converting into resort-land. Losing the school would likely mean we lose a number of families on the island, losing the school would be the knock-out punch to the community that lives there.
What are the current demographics of FMB? I would think that if the demographics do not fall into families, meaning mostly retires who live on the island, why do you need a school? I read where they are trying to bring families in, but what family can afford to move in now after a hurricane, little to no housing available. You have to look at the entire financial picture, not just for the school, but the entire island.
What Ethan said is very true. Since Covid many family have been able to move to warmer climates and work remotely. The island does have a close knit group of families with children that attend the beach school. Some of us moved here specifically for the school. And, logically it is impossible to transport off island during season. Our children have already lost so much, they need their school back! And we need to have the school to further attract families.
As far as transporting off island, that’s exactly what you will have to do for middle and high school!
Has anyone checked the facts of what the board is saying it cost per student? That seems high and if it is that high is there ways to reduce that figure