Gateway Sun

Not only is the Gateway community getting a new high school, but it’s also getting a hurricane shelter.

Lee County Emergency Management will be paying $750,000 towards upgrading the new school’s yet-to-be-built gymnasium so that it may be used as an emergency shelter for events like hurricanes.

Once built, the gym will be able to sustain winds of up to 200 miles per hour.

That was one of several items the Lee County School District board members and public learned from a briefing by the district’s Operations Division yesterday.

A few things that we already expected were formally confirmed as well, including that the school will have 2,000 student seats and its main academic building will be 3 stories high. Neither of those are news, but now we know it’s the official plan for the school.

As we reported yesterday, the board was presented with two estimates for the construction costs of $75.4 and $78.0 million. Marc Mora, who is the LCSD’s Executive Director of Operational Planning and Project Management, pointed out to the board that those are outside experts’ costs projections and not from school district staff.

Mora also told the board members that construction costs are inflating at a rate of “10 to 12 percent”. Mora wasn’t clear if that was per year but we assume that’s what he meant. In reality, nobody will know the cost of the school construction until it’s put out for bid, but the board members seemed content with what they’d heard from Mora.

The only contentious – and that’s probably using a stronger word to describe it than it actually was – issue was the need for a roundabout on Griffin Drive at the school’s proposed main entrance. More specifically, board member Chris Patricca wanted to know why the school district should have to pay for it.

It was explained to Patricca that it’s common practice for school districts to pay for all costs for entrances in to their schools. Once the roundabout is built ownership of it will be given to Lee County.

The Gateway Sun reached out to the LCSD to ask when a principal will be chosen and the school given a name, they wrote back and said that a principal will be hired during the appointment process for 2019-20 school year, and the school will be given a name not long after that.

Right now, the school’s official designation is “MMM”. Before Bonita Springs High School was officially named, it was designated “LLL”.

The first freshman class of the new Gateway high school will begin in portables on the Lehigh Senior High School campus for the 2020-21 school year, with the new building along Griffin Drive expected to be ready in August 2021.

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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