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School board community meeting focuses on future of two Lehigh schools

By MELISSA BILL - | Apr 7, 2021

news@breezenewspapers.com

The future of Veterans Park Academy for the Arts and the soon to be former campus of Lehigh Acres Middle School. were the topics discussed at a community meeting called by the School District of Lee County last Tuesday.

The meeting held inside the Star Café at Veterans Park Academy for the Arts focused on the repurpose and future use of the soon to be vacated Lehigh Acres Middle School campus on Arthur Avenue. Its current students will make the move to the new LAMS campus on Sunrise Boulevard once it opens in August of 2021.

Between 75 to 100 people attended the public meeting, according to Adam Molloy, coordinator of Community Engagement with Lee County School.

“We sent out invitations to all school staff, family members and students. Plus we got the word out through civic groups and local organizations. The meeting was held to help us address how the original LAMS campus could be used in association with Veterans Park Academy for the Arts,” Molloy said.

There were a few plans reviewed during the evening. LAMS and Veterans Park share a common border, so among the options for their future use is creating one large kindergarten through 8th grade campus. Another option is to create two separate schools.

“In one model we would have extended staff such as vice principals working at Veterans Park and then eventually have them lead the new LAMS,” Molloy said. “This summer the school district plans to have the schools connected by a covered walkway. We want to see the unification of the property under this approach with Veterans Park.”

Both proposals under consideration were presented at the community meeting with the chance for questions, answers and feedback. A few attendees did favor the creation of two separate school entities.

“We only had a few members of the public ask to discuss the option of two distinctly different schools, and renovating the old LAMS. It does need to be remodeled anyways and our main focus would be on eventually doing away with the current portables, and addressing capacity needs,” Molloy explained.

Molloy said officials were pleased with the community turnout.

“During the evening the project was discussed at some length. It’s an honor to see how much these teachers, guardians, and family members care about this school. One of the main topics that kept coming up is the need for a performing arts center, built in some capacity within these considerations. The kids and the community deserve it. There is a real need for a flagship, state-of-the-art performing art center in the east zone,” Molloy said.

The Lee County School Board will now process the community input and bring it to its upcoming April 13 board presentation.

“We plan to stay connected with the Lehigh Acres Community throughout this process,” Molloy said.

According to Molloy, the school board has already secured an architect and construction company for the project. The design phase is set to begin anywhere between six to nine months.

For more information visit https://www.leeschools.net/.