School Board reacts to denied proposal

Published 10:16 am Thursday, October 29, 2015

After the 950-student consolidated school proposal was denied at the last Charlotte County Board of Supervisors meeting, the school board was forced back to the drawing board to come up with a “more reasonable” plan.

But, how does the School Board feel about the rejected proposal?

“I appreciate the board of supervisors giving consideration to the funding request from the school board to build a consolidated school in Charlotte Court House for an estimated cost of $24-26 million, and for the board of supervisors’ words of support and understanding that the elementary schools are in need of funding to bring the school buildings up to current health and safety standards,” Superintendent Nancy Leonard said. 

“The BOS concern and support for the children of Charlotte County is very evident.”

School Board Chairman and Representative Drakes Branch District Ned Locke voiced his opinion on the matter, saying, “I favor building one elementary school which would consolidate our three existing schools. None of our aging elementary schools are adequate for the educational or security needs of today’s students.”

Leonard also brought up the fact that the county does have two large projects going on at the same time.

“I also respect the financial concerns that the Board of Supervisors are facing with the Court House renovation requirement. The timing of these two financial needs is unfortunate and frustrating,” Leonard said.

“However,  Charlotte County children need safe and healthy schools and the condition of the elementary schools have reached a critical point.”

Locke also spoke on the the conditions of the school and how it is attracting unnecessary costs.

“We are spending the taxpayers’ money on maintenance and energy that could be put to better use for instruction,” he said.

“A new school is the best and quickest way to provide equal educational opportunities for all of our elementary students, regardless of where they live. It also provides the lowest long-term net costs for the county, due to potential savings in energy usage, transportation, fees for technology, etc.”

Now the School Board has the task of coming up with another solution. “The School Board is trying to figure out the best approach to take with the request by the Board of Supervisors to bring back a plan with a more ‘reasonable’ cost,” Leonard said.

“The School Board and myself are listening to community stakeholders and trying determine how to address the BOS request that still provides for equal school facilities for all elementary school students in Charlotte County and a plan that is also financially sustainable for the long term. We want to be sure that we proceed in a manner that takes care of all of the children and communities equally.”

Whatever the next approach may be, all parties agree that the children well-being and learning experience should be considered first.

Stay with the Gazette for more updates on the consolidated school plans.