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Lee County voters make school board picks, approve superintendent referendum

Posted at 8:23 AM, Nov 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-09 10:58:44-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — In addition to voting for three school board positions Tuesday, Lee County residents were asked to decide if school superintendents should be chosen by election in the future.

That decision was "yes," with the referendum passing with 62% of the vote. With voter approval, 2024 will see the first Lee County School Superintendent race on the ballot.

Until now, the position was appointed by the school board. Dr. Christopher Bernier was most recently selected to the post following a multi-stage interview process.

Wednesday morning, Bernier offered this statement about the impeding change:

When I was offered the opportunity to be Superintendent by the School Board of Lee County, I was fully aware of the possibility of the Superintendent role becoming an elected position. Now that it has, I have another decision to make and will be evaluating my options. 

In the meantime, I remain committed to raising student achievement, leading efforts to improve our student enrollment and transportation systems, and continuing the District’s recovery from Hurricane Ian.  My leadership focus has not changed. I am dedicated to improving our School District for the betterment of all children. At this time, my focus and concentration continues to surround serving the students, staff, and community of Lee County. 

Three school board seats were up for grabs on the ballot:

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District 1 featured a battle between two newcomers, Sam Fisher and Kathy Fanny.

Fisher, endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, narrowly edged out Fanny, a retired teacher, 52% to 48%.

He says he wants board members to listen more closely to parents and be more transparent when it comes to budget issues.

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In District 4, which covers central and North Fort Myers along with eastern Cape Coral, board chair Debbie Jordan clinched 56% of the vote over opponent Dan Severson.

Jordan was endorsed by Charlie Crist, who lost his gubernatorial bid Tuesday night to DeSantis.


The final school board race, for District 6, saw another close result, with Jada Langford Fleming coming out over Denise Nystrom in a 52-48% vote.