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LCSD responds to funding and safety concerns at Riverdale High School

Posted at 10:41 AM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 06:58:05-04

BUCKINGHAM, Fla -- A mother at Riverdale High School is on a mission. She tells Fox 4 she wants to see more funding allocated to address issues she feels are impacting student safety and putting students at an academic disadvantage.

Jill Moreland is a parent, assistant swim coach, and IB treasurer at Riverdale. She's voiced concerns at recent Lee County School Board meetings, pointing to Change for Change data from Lee County Schools. The data shows Riverdale is the second largest high school by population size. However, Moreland feels more capital funding needs to be allocated to accommodate for the growth it's seen since it was built in 1972. She says the population size has seen an almost 150% increase.

That includes things like a shortage of on-campus student parking.

Moreland points to current student population data that shows there are more than 1,100 juniors and seniors at Riverdale. However, only 340 on-campus parking spots are set aside for them. There are also a number of sophomore student drivers.

The spillover of student drivers are parking at an off-campus vacant lot. Moreland said they're then having to navigate dark roads to get to class, which she feels creates a safety issue.

"It's unsafe and just a matter of time before someone gets hit and killed. We can't give this option to our students, this just isn't fair," she said.

We reached out to Lee County Schools who provided the following statement:

The District is developing a new five-year strategic plan for capital improvement projects that our schools have identified so the most urgent needs are met first. New or upgraded facilities and parking are on the list for Riverdale but it is too early to have specifics about what and when. A draft of the plan is expected to be presented to the School Board this spring with approval expected during the summer. We appreciate Ms. Moreland’s input and advocacy and look forward to working with her as we determine the best way to spend taxpayer money on all 96 of our school’s capital improvement plans.
-Lee County School District

The district also said Riverdale is not the only high school dealing with limited on-campus student parking, saying Fort Myers High School is in the same bind. LCSD added that while it can appreciate the safety concerns, they hope students will use the crosswalk at the front of the school in the meantime.

Moreland's concerns go beyond the lack of student parking.

"We need classroom additions. It's not just portable space, we need to offer these students science and math classes equivalent to what the other schools are offering," she said.

Moreland said she wants to see long-term accommodations that go beyond the number of portables currently serving as full-time classrooms.

"A portable is not equipped to teach any type of advanced classes," she added.

Lee County Schools said there are currently more than 200 portables in use across the district.

The district also said that money now coming in from the sales tax will help them catch up on work that's been delayed.

Since 4 In Your Corner reached out to the school district, Moreland has had the opportunity to meet with them and discuss concerns.

She's now asking the community to show their support at a March 24th school board meeting.

"I need bodies. I need to show the administration and school board it's a Riverdale community who wants these issues addressed," she said.