While most of the attention at today’s meeting of the Lee County School District will be focused on the proposed 0.5% sales tax increase in Lee County, another item on the agenda will be of interest to supporters of the new Gateway high school that will be built along Griffin Drive.

Superintendent Greg Adkins will tell the 7-member school board that he recommends “approval of Phase One (Project Planning/Pre-Construction Budget) for ‘MMM’ East Zone High School in the amount of $2,575,000.00 and Amendment to Architectural Contract FDP358 High School Prototype (Primary and Re-Use).”

It is widely expected that the board members will unanimously in favor.

According to LCSD documents, the Superintendent will be requesting money for “permitting, Architects, Civil Engineer, Building Official and Construction Manager fees for preconstruction services, legal counsel, and advertising.”

In English, once the board approves Adkins’ recommendation, money will be available to pay to develop the blueprints and other plans, as well as to obtain the permits needed to build our new school. At that point, construction of the new facility will be officially underway.

Hopefully this action will put to rest any rumors that the Gateway school won’t be built unless the sales tax increase is approved by Lee County voters. Multiple individuals, including one of the trouble makers from Alva, recently contacted the Gateway Sun attempting to convince us the school could be in jeopardy without the additional funds that would be generated by the increased sales tax.

Two Lee County School District officials, however, had previously assured the Sun that the funding was already in place – or they never would have awarded the school.


In terms of the sales tax … oh boy.

Reading the Q&A from Adkins and LCSD Chairman Cathleen Morgan in the News-Press was alarming. If they think they’re going to win by using the media to show everybody how smart they are, then they don’t understand the true challenge ahead of them.

The challenge isn’t convincing people they need the money, because everybody already knows that.

The real challenge is voter turnout.

I absolutely guarantee you there are enough people out there who would vote to approve giving the LCSD the money. They just have to connect with them.

But if they start boring them by going on TV or giving a newspaper interview and saying things like “We have seen an erosion of support for traditional funding methods” like Morgan did, then just call the whole thing off and save our $887,000.

They need simple points… someone to blame (not enough money from the state and county)… and a spokesperson with charisma who can package and deliver the message.

Nobody’s going to get off their couch and go vote because of “reduced impact fees” because most people don’t know/care what they are. You don’t win by making people feel stupid during your pitch.

The LCSD must find the right balance between letting the voters know why they need the money, and letting the voters know that it’s critical they actually vote.

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

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