Gateway Sun

Various media outlets have reported that the Lee County School District has made progress in its site selection for the new high school they expect to build in Bonita Springs, Florida. Fox 4 says the district is down to choosing between a site off of Imperial Parkway or a site off of Bonita Beach Road.

A few of our readers have reached out to inquire if that was a good thing or a bad thing for Gateway’s prospects at getting a new high school for this community.

Since the LCSD has made it clear that its issues in the South Zone (where Bonita is) will be getting resolved before they even think about working on the East Zone (where we are), any progress made in Bonita Springs is good.

That’s assuming that there actually is progress being made in regards to site selection. They’ve been at this for well over a year now and must already know where they want to build.

Earlier this week, LCSD Board member Steven Teuber noted that the timeline they’re operating under for the new school in Bonita is “slipping”. The LCSD has already missed its December 2015 deadline to have the site selected, and now there’s talk the school won’t open in fall 2018 as planned.

And there’s another problem. The district doesn’t own the land for either of the two sites they’re considering building on. The Naples Daily News reports that the preferred site is at the northwest corner of Bonita Beach Road and Bonita Grande Drive – and that site contains land owned by multiple parties. If any of them declined to sell, the LCSD wouldn’t be able to proceed with building a school there.

It does seem plausible the school district has its eye on one specific site, but they’re floating that they have another option to feign leverage in negotiations.

Right on cue, the cost to build the Bonita school jumped from $50 million to $57 million. Adkins says the extra funds are needed to make the school top-notch.

“Let’s make this the most well-built, exciting, innovative high school we’ve ever built. This could be an absolute showcase,” said Adkins, presumably with a straight face.

Sounds great, but many people would be just as happy if the LCSD used the extra $7 million to overpay for the land so they could break ground as soon as possible.

From Gateway’s point of view, all you should care about right now is that a decision finally gets made in the South Zone. Build it on Site A… or build it on Site B… or don’t build it at all. Whatever. Just decide.

Once a decision is made then the LCSD can turn its attention to the East Zone, where the first battle will probably be over funding. Site selection won’t be an issue since the school district already owns the land in Gateway to build a high school on.

Perhaps just as important, most Gateway residents have expressed that they would welcome a new high school with open arms. The opposition we’ve seen from Gateway residents pales in comparison to the pitchforks and torches the LCSD encountered in Bonita Springs.

Superintendent Greg Adkins told the elected School Board members that he intends to have a site in Bonita Springs chosen soon.

Adkins said the LCSD will “hopefully bring this thing home this month — that would be our goal, and, if not, early next month.”

Whatever.

Just as long as they make a decision.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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