The Battle For The Beach School

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(By Ed Ryan) A second meeting of concerned community members, regarding the possible elimination of the beach school, is being held Monday, December 5th at 6PM at the Skip One Building on San Carlos Boulevard. Lee County School Board member Chris Patricca, who represents the beach, will attend.

Shortly after Hurricane Ian, Patricca attended a Fort Myers Beach Town Council meeting and all but promised the community the school would be rebuilt. You can watch that video HERE. Her speech at the Town Council hardly raised an eyebrow at the time because people in attendance took it as a given that the school would be cleaned up and re-opened. Plus they were dealing with so many other life-changing issues at the time. Now, it appears closing the school completely is on the table as an option for the Lee County School Board. Nothing at the school has been cleaned or fixed by the district and the beach kids are being shipped off the island to another school every day.

This Monday night the group will be discussing options available for immediate storm remediation of the school including an option by a company called Nautilus Earth Management which has offered to clean the school for free. There’s also an option being discussed offered up by a local resort that is willing to convert an entire floor of its hotel for the kids on the beach to attend temporarily.

The Beach School is estimated to cost about $2 million to operate. The Lee County School District budget is over $2 Billion annually. While enrollment at the school dropped following COVID, Fort Myers Beach business owners like Tom Torgerson have let the School Board know that enrollment will grow again once resorts like Margaritaville open and the beach fully recovers from the storm.

Mayor Allers said on Episode #1 of Monday’s With The Mayor that the School Superintendent plans to attend the Monday meeting. The School Board is expected to discuss options for the Beach School at a December 13 workshop and make a decision on the future of the school in January.

Watch our video of the Beach School on Instagram HERE.

 

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