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A Lee County high school is addressing growth and safety concerns with $60 million project

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Posted at 10:33 PM, Apr 13, 2022

BUCKINGHAM, Fla — Parents of Riverdale High School students in Lee County wanted more money to improve safety and also get "real classrooms," Now with a multi-million-dollar project, they are getting it.

Nearly two years ago, we first reported on concerns about the parking lot hazard and the portables for math and science.

The district's power-point calls for a nearly $52 million project, but after planning for inflation that could be about $60 million. When we first did this story a couple of years ago, we heard from a parent. At that time, she said Riverdale had more than 2,000 students, but only had 340 on-campus parking spots. This created a spillover of off-campus parking for students who will have to walk on dark roads before sunrise to make it to class by 7:05 a.m. This is just a start of a long list of projects at Riverdale.

"I love how we are going to have the main entrance now, we’re changing the light down the road a little bit, I think safety has been an issue," said Misty Gonzales, a parent and cheerleading coach at Riverdale High.

Gonzales says she had multiple children go through Riverdale high and says these changes have been needed for a long time.

Riverdale opened in 1972- and to keep up with what the district calls the increase of students, the school is adding:

  • more room for parking for students and staff
  • more room for parents to pick up their child
  • and inside a new science lab,

“The science lab hasn’t been renovated I believe since the school was built," said Scott Cook, principal of Riverdale. "So addressing those needs so we can keep up with different programs and the stem academy and half of the programs we want to offer.”

The cost will also cover a new gym and locker rooms, to replace a 50-year-old facility.

“Riverdale has had the same small gym since 1972, it never had anything done to it," Cook said. "It’s a nice little gym, but it was too small for our needs.”

“Being a cheer coach with pep rallies our facilities have been so small for the number of students we have had here," Gonzalez said. "I am so excited to have a gym that is going to fit our students.”

The money for this comes from the 2018 half-cent sales tax increase Lee County voters passed. Phase one of the project is scheduled to start in the summer of 2022 and the entire project is expected to take two years.