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Beach families, students, community seek to save Fort Myers Beach Elementary School | News, Sports, Jobs – FORT MYERS

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Dozens of students from Fort Myers Beach Elementary School and their parents showed up at a meeting of the Lee County School Board to voice their support for reopening and rebuilding their school. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Fort Myers Beach Elementary School students were not allowed to bring in these signs into the Lee County School District Board meeting in support of saving their school but proudly held the signs to plead for the reopening of their school Tuesday evening. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Dozens of students from Fort Myers Beach Elementary School and their parents showed up at a meeting of the Lee County School Board to voice their support for reopening and rebuilding their school. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Ethan Mackey, of Fort Myers Beach, with daughter Abby

Abby Mackey of Fort Myers Beach holds a sign in support of saving Beach Elementary School following a meeting of the Lee County School District Board. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Jesse Field, a parent of two students at Beach Elementary School, voiced support for the importance of reopening the school. “What are we supposed to tell the kids? When things get hard, just give up? Tough times never last, tough people do.” Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Tessa Schmucker spoke in support of saving Beach Elementary School. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Fort Myers Beach Elementary School student Tessa Schmucker speaks in support of reopening and rebuilding the Fort Myers Beach Elementary School. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Fort Myers Beach Elementary School student Olivia Hicks voices support for opening the school again. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Lee County Schools Superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier (left) and Lee County Schools District Board of Education member Samuel Fisher (right).

Fort Myers Beach Elementary School K-2 Literacy Coach Sherri Skipper. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce President Jacki Liszak speaks about the importance of the Beach Elementary School. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Dan Allers spoke on the importance of the Beach Elementary School to the community. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Fort Myers Beach Elementary School students took a graduate class in civics Tuesday when dozens joined their families, teachers and members of the community in speaking up at a meeting of the Lee County School Board meeting to save their school amid concern over whether the board and administration will act to rebuild the school after it suffered damage from Hurricane Ian.

A lack of remedial work inside the building since Hurricane Ian has led to increasing worries that the district is not moving quicker to help clean and repair the building while other schools less hard hit have been cleaned and opened.

More than 30 people spoke at the school board meeting, including three elementary school students, a couple staff members and many parents.

Jesse Field, a parent of two students at Beach Elementary School, voiced support for the importance of reopening the school. “What are we supposed to tell the kids? When things get hard, just give up? Tough times never last, tough people do.”

Lee County Schools Superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier said options on whether to rebuild the school or pursue other avenues will be presented at the board’s meeting on Dec. 13. “There will be other options for the board to consider and we will dig deeper into those questions we are still answering,” Bernier said.

“There will be an option, it could be a very expensive one, but there will be an option potentially to rebuild the school and other options for you to consider. It was never an option not to bring that – but there are difficult decisions ahead for all of us,” Bernier said.

A decision on whether to rebuild the school may not be made until January, Bernier said.

Elementary school students Tessa Schmucker and Olivia Hicks were among the speakers.

“Aren’t we important to you? Don’t we matter too? I am asking you to please hurry and clean our school,” said Fort Myers Beach Elementary School student Tessa Schmucker.

School board members voiced support for the speakers. School Board member Samuel Fisher was visibly moved by the students and said they and their parents should be proud. “That was very brave of the three of you to speak,” he said.

“We’re listening and I do really appreciate you coming out,” Fisher said after the speakers. “You guys have gone through the unimaginable.”

The district had an enrollment of 79 students before Hurricane Ian according to figures provided by the district, and currently has 50 students considered to be enrolled at the school, though they attend San Carlos Park Elementary School. The students have to be driven to school as there is no busing from Fort Myers Beach.

Many speakers said Fort Myers Beach would cease to be a community without its school and that it would be a devastating blow to a town which already has endured the worst impacts of the deadly Hurricane Ian, which has displaced many residents.

This story will be updated


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