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Historic Franklin Park Elementary School to be rebuilt

By Staff | Apr 13, 2021

The School District of Lee County is starting the bidding process that will lead to the tearing down and rebuilding of the historic Franklin Park Elementary School in Fort Myers.

The Florida Department of Education has approved the District’s plan to replace the school rather than modernize it.

“We are so excited to have a beautiful new campus soon that our community, families, and staff can be proud of for many years,” said Franklin Park Principal Michelle Freeman in a School District of Lee County release issued Tuesday. “Franklin Park will genuinely be a Community Partnership School! We will be able to provide unique services and support to ensure student success. We look forward to continuing to serve our community!”

Franklin Park Elementary opened as an all-black school in 1958. It was converted into a middle school in 1970 and integrated. In 1977, Franklin Park was renovated and returned to an elementary school.

The rebuild, pending state approval at the time, was one of the promises the District made to voters if the half cent sales tax was approved in 2018. The project is expected to cost around $53 million. All but one classroom building and the gymnasium will be torn down and replaced. Both remaining structures will be completely renovated.

“The new Franklin Park Elementary School will acknowledge the historic significance this site has served within our community, but embolden us to provide even more for our students and families,” said Chief of Operations Dr. Ken Savage. “For the first time in the history of Lee County, we will be using our partnerships with the United Way, Lee Health, FGCU and other providers to incorporate community wrap-around services on a school campus. Franklin Park will be a true community school. It will benefit not just the whole child but the whole family.”

Demolition and construction are expected to begin in October 2022 after a year of planning and design. The new school should open in August of 2024. Students will be relocated to a temporary portable campus during the rebuild.