Guest Comment: What your pennies mean to Lehigh Acres families | News, Sports, Jobs


Edwin Carter, director of the Veterans Park Academy for the Arts

Just in time for the start of the school year, a top-to-bottom renovation of the former Lehigh Acres Middle building has created a dedicated college wing at the Veterans Park Academy for the Arts. Parents and students had the opportunity to tour the fully renovated building during our Back to School Open House, and their reactions and comments were everything a principal could hope for, and more – excitement, admiration , joy and appreciation. College students, who can sometimes mask their emotions, buzzed eagerly around campus as if opening a birthday present.

Around every corner there was something new and exciting for students to see: new science and computer labs with state-of-the-art equipment, an upgraded gymnasium and locker rooms, a media center that will feature collections completely new and dedicated rooms for dance, music and art – important features for a school with “Academy of the Arts” in his name. Parents noticed the bright LED lighting, the school’s red and blue colors woven into the interior decor, and the new security features such as controlled access points and a camera system designed to keep their children safe. children.

We are in the planning stages to renovate the elementary classrooms at Veterans Park and to add a performing arts hall that will rival some of the best venues in the area. Construction is currently expected to be complete in 2025. When complete, Veterans Park will have increased capacity while eliminating the need for portable classrooms.

This work could not have been completed or even considered without the half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2018. As of June, the Lee County School District had raised more than $275 million. in sales tax revenue, which funded projects at every Lee County public school.

Our families in the East Zone are benefiting the most from the construction boom. Gateway High School and the new Lehigh Acres Middle School opened brand new campuses last year. 200 more spaces are now being added to the Lehigh Acres Middle campus, and next door, Amanecer Elementary is under construction. Nearly 1,000 students will be able to take classes there next August. In January, a major renovation project begins at Riverdale High School that will add a science wing, upgrade classroom space, increase the size of the cafeteria, and add a new gymnasium.

Students across the district enjoy community support for sales tax as they log on to their shiny new computers, walk outdoors under new covered walkways, and breathe cleaner, fresher air circulating through the new air treatment units. Teachers use new 4K interactive display panels while conducting class discussions and have access to mobile video recording and streaming carts that allow students to produce video projects from anywhere on campus.

Major construction, major and minor renovations, and necessary maintenance projects are moving forward in Lee County, which truly reinforces our school district’s reputation as a world-class school system. A half-cent sales tax makes a big difference in Lee County, and it will for generations to come.

– Edwin Carter is director of the Veterans Park Academy for the Arts at Lehigh Acres.


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