FORT MYERS, Fla. — Franklin Park Elementary School alumni, staff and friends saying goodbye tonight to the historic campus.
The school’s rebuild was one of the promises the School District of Lee County made to voters if the half cent sales tax was approved in 2018. All but one classroom building and the gym will be torn down and replaced.
A renovation that is not only affecting its student body.
"Franklin Park is the heart of Dunbar,” said Michelle Freeman, Principal of Franklin Park Elementary School.
It's a night of celebration at Franklin Park Elementary School.
“It has been such a blessing to see the people that paved the way to what we are right now,” says Freeman.
As alumni from the school's past and present gather for its future.
“To celebrate the new face of Franklin Park Elementary," said David Fairman Johnson, Director of Community Partnership Schools. "We are excited to welcome in our community members back to continue to make the impacts that we make here at our local campus.”
The campus' critical reconstruction comes with the help of a half cent sales tax approved by Lee County voters in 2018. With plans to reopen in August of 2024 for a capacity of 579 kindergarten thru fifth grade students. As well as room for another 100 Pre-K students.
"It was built in 1958, but they have added on," says Freeman. "We're not just adding on, they're going to tear it down and build it back up and make it an absolutely amazing place for children to come back to.”
It's also not goodbye as the old school makes way for a newer, more modern campus. That isn't just going to serve the students, but the community as well.
“This is the only school that is going to be built with community partnership school and united way in mind," says Angela Jackson, Vice President of Community Partnership Schools. "So we're apart of something huge here.”
Something huge and something that has never been done before in Lee County. The school partnering with United Way, Lee Health and other non-profits to provide services on-site for those who need it.
"There's food, there's clothes- any types of services that our community needs as well as my staff and my students," said Freeman. "It is an amazing thing to be a community partnership school.”
Ensuring a bright future for all.
"This is going to be the ‘it' school," says Jackson. "This is going to be the school of choice right here in Lee County, just wait and see!”
You can read up more on the Franklin Park Elementary rebuilding project on the School District of Lee County's website right here.