At least two members of Alva Inc., the group leading the charge to have the new public high school built in Alva instead of Gateway, are “playing dirty” according to some Gateway parents.
Alva Inc. board member Darren Watkins is also part of the Lee County School District’s Construction Advisory Committee – the important committee that will be making the formal recommendation between Gateway and Alva to the elected school board.
It is difficult to imagine any scenario where Watkins would side against Alva Inc. since — again — he is on Alva Inc’s board of directors.
Meanwhile Alva Inc’s leader, Don Ruane, has begun visiting social media groups such as Gateway Parents on Facebook and talking up the benefits of the Alva site.
Various posts on that Facebook group and others have popped up warning people of the role Ruane is playing and that Ruane is there specifically to spread doubt about Gateway’s chances.
In Gateway, the parents are creating signs, have printed t-shirts and plan to show up in force for tomorrow’s visit by the Construction Advisory Committee. The CaC will be performing an inspection of the Gateway site on Wednesday and the committee will do a similar site inspection in Alva on Thursday.
So far the Gateway group has not responded in kind to the Alva leaders’ actions.
Instead, much of the anti-Alva sentiment on Alva’s social media is coming from Alva residents themselves. And there’s plenty of it.
To be fair, one strong supporter of the Gateway group was formerly part of the Construction Advisory Committee during the committee’s efforts to help select a site for the South Zone school, which went to Bonita Springs.
But that person quit the CaC before the selection process began for the East Zone, where Gateway and Alva both are. So while Watkins can provide a pro-Alva influence at the CaC meetings, there is nobody on the committee to nudge things in Gateway’s favor.
Speaking only for myself, I don’t have a problem with what Ruane and Watkins are doing. There’s nothing illegal about it, the stakes are high and those two men are taking their pro-Alva roles seriously. In my opinion it demonstrates that they must be pretty worried about the outcome.
Besides, I’m certain the Construction Advisory Committee is filled with very smart individuals who are likely already aware of Watkins’ associations and probable agenda.
I’m also certain the rest of the CaC will make the best decision possible for the entire school district when considering their formal recommendation to the LCSD board.
So I do believe Gateway will get a fair shake, over-all.