FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Debris trucks adding to the ever-growing pile make up the only traffic in front of Fort Myers Beach Elementary School.
The school is one of three in the Lee County School District, along with the Sanibel School and Hector Cafferata Elementary, that have been unable to reopen due to damage from Hurricane Ian.
“We know we’re being left out. We’re being strung along,” said Erin Field, whose two kids attend the school.
Monday morning, Field was one of several parents who spoke in front of the Fort Myers Beach Town Council.
The emotions ranged from teary to angry.
“We feel like everyone is giving up on us. We’ve lost everything,” one mother said at the meeting.
“We cannot be tearful. We cannot lay down. We have to fight with everything inside us. They cannot take our school from us,” said another father.
The parents are worried the school won’t be rebuilt.
While town council members empathized with the parents, they won’t get the final choice.
Instead, some council members said they would lobby the district to rebuild the school.
Rob Spicker, a spokesperson with the School District, says there is “an interpretation from their meeting last week that there has already been a decision made to not rebuild the school and that simply is not the case. No decisions have been made on whether or not Fort Myers Beach Elementary will be rebuilt. All options are still on the table and being discussed.”
Spicker says the superintendent will make a recommendation to the school board, which will give a final decision.
Fort Myers Beach Elementary is the smallest school in Lee County.
When the school year started there were only 78 students enrolled there.
Since then, that number has dropped to 52.
The kids are being bussed to San Carlos Park Elementary School, along with students from the Sanibel School.
“There has to be a school on the island, period,” Field said.
“How can you say no to this community that has lost everything.”