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Developers address parent concerns as renovations work to combine two schools in Lehigh Acres

Veterans Park Academy for the Arts
Posted at 3:25 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 16:31:31-04

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — On Tuesday, the campus for Veterans Park Academy for the Arts (VPAA) in Lehigh Acres was taking on a new look as construction crews worked to combine it with the old Lehigh Acres Middle School (LAM).

A lot was left to the imagination when looking at the changes being made so VCAA can absorb Lehigh Acres Middle School

Kathie Ebaugh, the Planning Director for Lee County School District spoke to me about the future of the campus.

"We have a LAM's expansion, we are re-doing this (VPAA) campus so that this campus can last us for the next 50 years,” said Ebaugh.

Lee County School District spokesperson Rob Spicker said in a press release, the campus of Veterans Park Academy for the Arts is expanding to include the buildings once used by the original Lehigh Acres Middle School.

Spicker added that the renovations underway will create 1,002 permanent student stations for 6th through 8th-grade students when the next school year starts in August.

An idea parents have told Fox 4 in the past brings with it some concerns.

“It's okay to create a mega school but we want to continue to have that family aspect,” said Dulce Martinez.

An aspect that Ebaugh said boils down to making sure the students feel unified when they enter this Fall when bringing up school colors.

"The red and the blue and the white are your major campus colors that will unify,” and also keep students in the same place, said Ebaugh.

“You are actually going to enter as a Kindergartener on this campus and you will be able to go from Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade so this will be your home for all nine years of your elementary education,” said Ebaugh.

According to the Project Manager, Stephen Hanna, he hopes the renovations will be done by July.

Along with creating a home for the middle school students, Hanna said the $18 million dollar project includes adding new science labs and classrooms, and new rooms for dance, theater, and music, while also remodeling classrooms, the media center, and cafeteria.

Hanna said the old campus will have a completely new look and feel when operating as part of Veterans Park Academy for the Arts.

On Tuesday, Hanna added that renovating the campus was a cheaper option than building a brand new school and starting from scratch.

“You are getting a brand new building that meets all the brand new codes, all the brand new loads, all those things that possibly can be, for a lot less money,” said Hanna.

The new campus will host students K-8.

Kathie Ebaugh, the Planning Director for Lee County School District said there will be about 300 students per grade level.

Ebaugh said the school will have one Principal and three Associate Principals to cover the separate grade levels.

As for start times, the first day of school is August 8 and Ebaugh says bell times will remain the same as last year for students.