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Lee County School Board chooses superintendent, will begin contract negotiations

Posted at 10:05 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 06:10:35-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Lee County School District is much closer to hiring a new superintendent.

Tuesday afternoon, the panel voted to extend an offer to a man who recently worked in one of the largest school districts in Florida and the country. The final candidate was an assistant superintendent in the Orlando area for nearly 10 years.

Christopher Bernier has a lot of experience, both in Orange County Schools and currently Las Vegas. But it was his ability to relate to the community, students and teachers that school board members said may have made him the front-runner.

The board's been looking for a permanent replacement for Greg Adkins, since he retired last summer. The two finalists, Bernier and Michael Ramirez, both had experience in Florida.

But board members say it was the community that ultimately made the decision.


"He did a lot of research on who we are. He understands the dynamics of our constituents, he understands the schools so he searched our schools. He understands the community because he basically comes from the same type," chairperson for the Lee County School District, Debbie Jordan said.

School board members were also impressed with past programs Bernier had launched that focused on diversity and equity in education. They'll now work on making an offer.

But in the end it was the relationship building that mattered as much, if not more. School board members say Bernier had an instant rapport with teachers and students here in Lee County and that helped him beat out the next closest candidate.

"We went out there to the community and we spoke to our teachers and as well as the students who participated and they had actually chosen Dr. Bernier," Jordan said.

The head of the Teacher's Association of Lee County also applauded Bernier's experience elsewhere in Florida. Fox 4 was told Bernier's history with programs promoting equity in education also helped propel him to the number one choice.

School board members added that both Ramirez and Bernier were both highly qualified for the job making it a difficult decision.