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New school year brings new challenges

August 1, 2012
By MARY FISCHER - Guest Comment , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

As our Lee County Public Schools prepare for the 2012-2013 school year, I extend greetings and appreciation for your support on behalf of the Board.

2011-12 was a year of change and challenge! We worked with our new superintendent toward the accomplishment of our mission, "To ensure that each student reaches his/her highest personal potential." Our dedicated teaching and support staff have provided a variety of opportunities for our students to find success by incorporating arts, athletics, career exploration and community service. We focus on the education of youth, and this must be done in collaboration with parents and the community.

Take a look at the School District of Lee County and you will note that there is a balance of strengths and success: great students, highly qualified educators, state-of-the-art equipment, but many challenges: budget shortfalls and social issues. In essence, our schools are a reflection of the diverse, general society.

In October 2011, the News Press Market Watch Education Summit brought 500 educators and business leaders together at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point for a landmark conference aiming to connect K-12 and higher education systems with the region's employers.

Recognizing that education is the key economic driver for the community, the business community challenged us to move into the future with the focus on the school to career connection.

An interfaith community group approached the School District to partner in efforts to enhance our safe education environment by addressing the issues of bullying and code of conduct.

With the support of The Foundation for Lee County Public schools, along with school staff and community volunteers, items were reviewed and refined and new initiatives were implemented.

Many of our schools were recognized for special achievements. Partnerships between schools and local businesses blossomed. Career and language enhancements were created for several school locations.

The Board adopted a resolution requesting a reduction to Hi Stakes testing mandates, the use of multiple forms of accountability and not to use student test scores in evaluating educators.

A community wide survey provided us with information and direction for future planning; and we are working to create a community outreach plan. As we anticipate growth for the coming year, we explore ways to provide quality, essential service to students within the current budget constraints.

As part of reorganization efforts, offices will be open in each of the three zones to facilitate easy access to services for families. The Parent Assistance Center exists to provide parents and the community with information and support as they work with schools to meet their child's learning needs and to understand the important role they play as part of the education team. The Exceptional Student Education department employs a Family Liaison who works with a variety of community organizations, local support groups, and with the people who provide support to your child. Lee Virtual Instruction Program providing students with high quality instruction in an online environment, is now available to kindergarten through grade 12 students.

I invite you to continue participate as we work toward our vision of becoming a world-class school system "It takes a village"

Mary Fischer is the board chair for the School District of Lee County.



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