By: Mrs. Cathleen Morgan
School Board Member at Large offers a column for end of the school year remarks concerning the Lee County School District with news relating to our own schools in Lehigh Acres.
As Mrs. Morgan notes the sales tax referendum passed in last November’s election. This is a county-wide tax yet the need for school construction is direly needed in Lehigh Acres/Eastern Lee County. You will find Cathleen’s article informative. Don’t hesitate to give Mrs. Morgan a call at 239.334.1102 or contact CathleenOM@leeschools.net.
Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass gives us an update on various transportation improvements in our area. Many of us know Cecil for his work with our Senior Center as well as his involvement with various local issues regarding Lehigh Acres.
As always Cecil is available for your comments and concerns. Give him a call at 239.533.2227 or contact Dist2@leegov.com.
As the end of the 2018-19 school year approaches, The School District of Lee County has lots of exciting plans and good news to report.
Student enrollment growth continues district-wide but is especially evident in the East Zone where the district is housing many students in portables. Again, thank you for your support of the Lee County School District Sales Tax Initiative which will help us with a permanent solution.
If you are interested in learning how the tax dollars are being spent for construction, maintenance, and school safety, please go to https://www.leeschools.net/our_district/change_for_change/projected_projects where planned and completed current school year school expenditures are clearly displayed.
Short term, our biggest investment of the new capital revenue will be in building to provide additional student seats in Lehigh. In 2019, we have been able to move quickly to develop and execute plans for the new high school (‘MMM’) and a new middle school in Lehigh (“MM”). At Lehigh Senior High School, we are spending $14.4 million on new construction, maintenance, and safety improvements. When it opens in August 2019, we will have added 500 student seats, updated and renovated a number of classrooms, and created dedicated JROTC program and classroom space.
Lehigh MM is scheduled to open in August 2021, adding approximately 1,345 student station seats. MMM will accommodate approximately 2,139 student station seats and is projected to open a portable campus in August 2020, with the hard building opening in August 2021.
As with all new building projects, community members will be invited to participate in brainstorming student offerings and programming with district staff and principals upon their assignment. We are keenly interested in providing students with opportunities to earn certifications that benefit local economies as well as certifications in new industries with job demand growth. Four career academies, including culinary arts, cybersecurity, veterinary assisting, and medical assisting, will be a part of the offerings at ‘MMM’.
This year, the School District focused on improving communications with our public school audience. Our custom mobile app provides notifications to families and guardians in case of emergencies, information about student assignment and grades, meal menus, and bus routes. Peachjar is used for communicating community events and opportunities for students and families. District forums were held to provide parents the opportunity to learn from and talk with experts about vaping, bus stop safety, student assignment, social media and alcohol use.
Academically, we continue to show marked improvement in student achievement and learning gains. Last year our high school students improved their ACT scores in all subject areas. We were one of two Florida school districts placed on the 9th Annual AP District Honor Roll. The district graduation rate increased by four percent to the highest level ever.
This year, four east zone schools received grants for middle school arts programs—Veterans Park Academy for the Arts, Oak Hammock Middle, Harns Marsh Middle, and Lehigh Acres Middle. They are wowing audience members with the quality of their arts program and performances. Three Lehigh schools received the Five Star School Award for their commitment to incorporating parents and community members in the school environment—
G. Weaver Hipps, Lehigh Acres Middle, and Veterans Park Academy for the Arts. Lehigh Senior High School is an AVID Demonstration School and it was designated a 2019 AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Schoolwide Site of Distinction. East Lee County High School received a $10,000 Classroom Resources Grant to establish a permanent theatre program. It will allow the school to purchase tools and materials for set and costume creation.
As we focus on student success guided by the district’s strategic plan, Envision 2030, you can expect to see continued emphasis on updating and growing our career and technology academies in middle and high schools, an improved student assignment plan and efforts to grow early childhood education opportunities with district partners.
Initiatives to improve student support services began in 2018 and support for elective academics and extracurricular programs has not abated. In 2019, the District received a federal grant for Mental Health Awareness Training. The District and its partners, SalusCare Behavioral Health, The Children’s Network of Southwest Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, will work together to provide high-quality mental health awareness training to staff, families, and community members serving high-need schools in east Lee County over three years.
We will continue our aggressive drive to facilitate, support, and strengthen academic offerings for the purpose of raising student achievement. We are working had to increase opportunities for student to leave high school with a plan for their future—career and/or college so we can uphold our mission of helping every student reach his or her highest potential.
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