Lee County Schools
School choice to be phased out?
School boad member says "very good possibility" school choice will be phased out
Lee County school board member says there's "very good possibility" school choice will be phased out. Video by fox4now.comvideo
CAPE CORAL - A Lee County school board member says there is a "very good possibility" that school choice could be phased out in the next three to five years.
School choice in Lee County originally started over a lawsuit claiming the district was too segregated. But since then it's caused division.
For the past year Fox 4 has heard frustrations from many viewers unhappy with school choice - a lottery system giving students their choice of any county school.
The district's new superintendent Joseph Burke reformed school choice in his last district. Last week we asked Burke if he sees changes to school choice being made here.
"Well," he told us, "we may."
Lee County school board member Don Armstrong says the board is discussing the future of school choice.
"There's a very good possibility it could end," said Armstrong. "A lot of people, they're not happy with school choice. They want to go back to some type of neighborhood school."
Armstrong is pushing for a hybrid plan. He wants to eliminate choice for kids in elementary and middle school but give high school students the option, since many of them drive anyway, he said Sunday.
He says the move would save the district time and money.
"This is your tax dollars going out the tailpipe," said Armstrong, pointing to long school bus rides which Fox 4 first exposed and were at the center of last year's transportation audit.
Supporters say school choice gives their kids more opportunities. Critics say it has created long bus rides and has been a strain on the system.
"Do you feel you have enough support on the board to overturn school choice?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"I feel we have enough support," said Armstrong. "People want it. They want to go back to neighborhood schools. We work for the people. And we need to continue to listen to what the public has to say."
Any change would be done by the school board. Armstrong says nothing will be done until they hear from the public.
The board will discuss school choice at a workshop session Tuesday Aug. 16 from 2-5 p.m. Armstrong says any plan to phase it out could take three to five years.
MATT GRANT, REPORTER