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School Board discusses ideas for hurricane-damaged elementary school

Hector Cafferata
Posted at 4:23 PM, Jan 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-25 05:22:21-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — After moving all of their students into portable classrooms because of Hurricane Ian, Lee County school board members were trying to figure out the best way to repair the damages at Hector A. Cafferata Jr. Elementary School.

On Tuesday, around the corner from Hector Cafferata, the future of the damaged elementary school was out of sight, but not out of mind for Cape Coral parents in the pickup line.

“I think that rebuilding it would be the best bet,” said Gisela, a parent whose twins attend Hector A. Cafferata Jr. Elementary.

While other families like Kathy Hartman would like to see the school be given some upgrades.

“I think actually I would like to see it renovated,” said Hartman.

There were multiple options that were being considered on Tuesday after damages from Hurricane Ian forced students out of the building and into these portable classrooms back in mid-December.

“If the construction itself didn't hold up to the hurricane that happened now, I think that rebuilding it would be the best bet. So, that you know all around that structurally it's sound,” said Gisela.

On Tuesday at a Lee County School Board Briefing, the four options that were laid out to board members were:

  1. Restore the school, est. cost $20 million.
  2. Demolish and then rebuild the school, est. cost $60 million.
  3. Close the current site and build a new k-8 nearby, est. cost $100 million.
  4. Demolish and hold the property, est. cost $3 million.

Kathy Hartman, who was picking up her grandson, said restoring the original school is the way to go and disagrees with moving the school to a new location.

“A lot of the families are local and they have already been displaced enough I think,” said Hartman.

However, school leaders are saying that the relocation option would mean a bigger campus for future growth.

Parents like Gisela told Fox 4 she wanted a new school in the same location, which school leaders said was an option that would take about 12 months to complete.

12 more months, means more time her kids would have to spend in the portable classrooms.