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Guest Commentary: Better schools are a community effort

June 20, 2018
By Mary Fischer , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Dear friends of education:

Education is a dynamic process, the economic driver for the community, the equalizer, the energizer! School Board members make a commitment to set policy, oversee operations and to make system changes to meet evolving needs.

As a member of the Lee County School Board, and as an experienced educator, I am encouraged by the progress that we have made during the past three years. There is improved focus at the district level on the children and the job at hand.

We all share a role in getting to where we are now and we have a responsibility to move forward. We engage in short and long term planning and professional development training to improve staff morale, facilitate student achievement, enhance district finances, and to increase community support. Changes are being made in an effort to accomplish these goals.

We have amazing potential, possibility and a powerful resource in our students and staff, requiring the support of all stakeholders! There is opportunity before us. With the focus on children, and using the framework of a strong strategic plan (Vision 2020), the current seated board along with the superintendent are working to revolutionize education in Lee County.

As we focus on the strengths, we can work together to solve existing problems. Today's economy still finds us dealing with decreased federal and state dollars, unfunded mandates, a diminished tax base, and not enough money for the classroom.

In spite of this, school staff members have worked diligently to keep the ball rolling - children are making progress as evidenced by improved academic growth, a narrowed achievement gap, improved graduation rate, industry certifications at an all -time high, along with athletic and arts achievements. Transportation has been streamlined; specialized programs have been increased and enhanced, thanks to our highly effective teachers and staff.

Lee County Schools are diligently working on identifying funding sources that will enable us to provide the most adequate safety and education experiences for our students.

With ongoing fiscal responsibility, we have been able to manage a raise for staff members while other government entities have had to cut positions and impose furloughs.

However, we are experiencing extraordinary growth in the Lee County student population. We need to build schools, maintain the ones we have, and provide for safety and security to benefit all.

For these reasons, Lee County School Board members voted for a referendum on a half-cent sales tax, which has been put on the November ballot. Lee voters will decide in the referendum whether to invest in our children by changing the tax rate from 6 percent to 6.5 percent.

It is important for the members of the community to recognize that the future of our community depends on their support, and encourage all to exercise both privilege and responsibility in being registered to vote and to use the powerful voice they have. Therefore, I am urging a positive vote to increase the investment in our schools by a half-penny.

Achieving these goals involves communication and collaboration between school, family and community.

-Mary Fischer represents District 1 on the Lee County School Board

 
 

 

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