FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — The new school board for Lee County has some big decisions to make about the future of some of the schools in the district.
The board was sworn in Tuesday evening, almost eight weeks after Hurricane Ian slammed in Southwest Florida, damaging several schools.
In a filing with the state Department of Education, Lee County Schools estimate the district took $230 million in damages.
Parents like Erin Field, whose kids attend Fort Myers Beach Elementary, are worried their school will never be rebuilt.
“There has to be a school on this island. Period,” Field said. “How can you take this away from people who have lost everything?”
Students from Fort Myers Beach have been attending San Carlos Park Elementary School.
The district says no decision has been made whether or not to rebuild the school.
Fort Myers Beach Mayor Dan Allers, who was sworn in last week, has met privately with the superintendent urging him to keep the school open.
“A lot of people that are on the island their kids went to that school, they went to that school,” Allers said.
Fort Myers Beach Elementary School is the smallest school in the district.
In the latest cycle, enrollment figures show just 52 students attended school at the school.
“It’s part of our culture. It’s part of who we are,” Allers said. “It may not be as big, but I think it’s important we keep that school here.”
Ultimately, the decision could come down to dollars and cents.
Fort Myers Beach Elementary and Hector A. Cafferata, Jr. Elementary in Cape Coral were the two hardest-hit schools in the district.
The estimates from Lee County Schools show it would cost $46,570,500 to rebuild the two schools.
While demolishing them both would cost $5,588,460.
“This is a pretty resilient community we’re willing to step up and do what we need to do to keep what we think is important,” Allers said.