Staff moved out of potentially unsafe building at Bonita Springs Elementary

Posted at 6:44 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 19:55:25-04

BONITA SPRINGS — Staff have been moved out of a building at Bonita Springs Elementary School because the building may not be safe.

This is the second time this year a building has had structural issues at the school. Back in June, a roof at the school caved in, but thankfully, no one was there at the time due to COVID-19.

Now, a school board member is speaking out, saying they aren’t getting enough information about the school’s safety. Betsy Vaughn said, she was notified of the decision in an email on Wednesday, but she doesn’t understand why this happened so suddenly.

“It’s not like the structural damage happened from a lightening strike this morning, or something like that. It’s been ongoing," said Vaughn.

Vaughn is concerned because she’s been asking for more information about the school’s safety ever since the roof collapsed back in March, but she hasn’t received many answers.

“Are the office personnel currently in that? Have they moved headquarters for now? And if they are, are they safe?" said Vaughn during a school board meeting back on September 3rd.

"I’ll get with our maintenance staff and ask them to just give us a best update of everything that’s already been done," responded Dr. Ken Savage, the Lee County School District's Chief Operations Officer.

“I tried to get answers, and everything I asked was deflected," said Vaughn.

If you listen closely to the video from that meeting, at one point you can hear a board member say "stop her" in the microphone while Vaughn is talking.

“Are they working in that office? Is it habitable now for *Stop her* office, or is it..." said Vaughn in the meeting.

"I’ll have to reach out to our staff," responded Dr. Savage.

The only response from the School District on Thursday was an email sent to parents, saying the district is getting a portable office space for staff, and is hiring a structural engineer to evaluate the building.

Vaughn said she hopes she doesn’t get surprised by developments like this in the future.

“If I’m not informed, I can’t do the job that I was elected to do for my constituents," said Vaughn.

The school district said there aren’t any classrooms in the building, so student schedules will not be affected by the closure of the building.

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