FORT MYERS BEACH
Parents and students question when and if, Fort Myers Beach Elementary School will be rebuilt after Hurricane Ian shut it down.
And after the town hall meeting on Monday, still no word on what is happening with the school.
Nautilus Earth Management made an offer to clean the school for free.
The Nautilus Earth Management website says it specializes in land clearing, excavation, and demolition.
Parents brought this up at the town hall meeting, but the board said its decision is not as easy as it appears.
Parents explained the school district superintendent has been in contact with the company but, so far, nothing’s been solidified.
Monday, at 6 p.m. a town hall discussing the future of the school was hosted by school board member, Chris Patricca.
Parents, teachers, and students will all be at the town hall Monday evening.
One of the teachers at the meeting was Lori Zamniak, who spoke with WINK News.
“We really want our school rebuilt. We want it rebuilt. It’s like they said in the meeting, it’s important for the community,” Zamniak said. “It’s the heart of the community.”
Parents and teachers banded together displaying the almost tangible frustration at the Lee County School Board’s lack of action.
One of the parents, John Koss, attended the meeting and spoke with WINK News about his thoughts.
“We understand that there’s a lot of red tape and a lot of things, you know that our school boards going through, we’re 75 days in, we want our kids to get some sense of normalcy in their lives. And that’s not happening,” Koss said.
Patricca and superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier explained due to the school’s historical roots and involvement from insurance companies, their hands are tied for the time being.
“Do the finances matter? Yes. The reason we’re sitting here without a decision is because we don’t have all information that we need,” Patricca said.
WINK News was at the school board meeting a few weeks ago when those same people showed up in droves.
Many attending the last town hall wore matching shirts telling the school board why they think Fort Myers Beach Elementary should be rebuilt.
WINK News spoke to grandparent Jane Plummer, who said both of her children and grandchildren thrived at the school.
Plummer also said there are many reasons the school should be rebuilt.
“It’s what’s going to bring families to the island. Families that buy here want their kids to go to school on the island,” Plummer said. “They don’t want to bus their kindergartener to Bonita or Fort Myers and be on a bus for three hours during season I mean that’s just crazy.”
The board explained there are about five different options for the school.
The options range from major renovations to the demolition of the school.
Issues like raising enrollment numbers are crucial to its future also.
“We just hope they look long and hard at just not the numbers, but also what the school means to the community and that their decision is not just for this year. It’s long-term,” Zamniak said.
The Lee County School Board is set to discuss the school’s future more in-depth during the next meeting on Dec. 13.
Bernier said he hopes it will lead to a decision by some time in January.