FORT MYERS, Fla. — The future of Fort Myers Beach Elementary hanging in the balance.
Since Hurricane Ian, the school has remained closed with no one — not students, staff or contractors — allowed in. The Lee County School Board meeting tonight with plenty of unhappy parents in attendance.
It was a different type of atmosphere inside the meeting. Not one of anger, but one of compassion and sincerity. That passion coming from parents voicing their opinions.
"Heartfelt and well spoken. That is our community. We care and we care deeply about this school.”
Caring for Fort Myers Beach Elementary. That was at the top of the agenda for countless parents in attendance for Tuesday night’s Lee County School Board meeting.
“I want to make this the toughest decision that this school board will ever have to make because it will destroy our community and they need to understand that,” said John Koss, a parent of a student at Fort Myers Beach Elementary.
That decision on whether or not to reopen the elementary school, which has stood vacant since Hurricane Ian.
"Let’s start getting to work on it, let’s clean it up," said another parent. "Let’s do what’s right.”
Parents fighting to get the school reopened sooner rather than later. As the building sits silent behind boarded windows.
“We’re not going anywhere," said Erin Field, a parent of two students at the elementary. "We showed up and it feels really good to just have that sense of community and I just think it went really well.”
That sense of community coming thru the countless parents and students attending Tuesday night’s meeting. Even the Mayor of Fort Myers Beach making his voice heard. As many have argued the future of the beach depends on the future of the school.
"Everything is so inner related and it’s such a small beach community to where I think the board would be extremely remise if they didn’t see the value of having our school,” said Koss.
A value that countless people in attendance recognize.
"Hundreds of volunteers are ready to get to work- myself included," said Field. "We will get our hands dirty, we’ll do whatever we need to do to get the school open as soon as possible. If they say and give us the thumbs up, you’ll see that school up and running in no time.”
The school district, again, says all options remain on the table. They will be hosting a closed workshop meeting next month to discuss next steps. Meaning Fort Myers Beach Elementary will remain closed, at least for now.