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School District receives over $500 million from half-cent sales tax

Report indicates every school has benefited from the funding

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Apr 25, 2024

The School District of Lee County has received $507 million so far from the voter-approved half-cent sales tax and every school has benefited.

Money from the sales tax can be used for construction, safety, maintenance, and technology.

Independent Sales Surtax Oversight Committee Chair Steve Shimp said the district have only expended $352 million, but a considerably higher amount is committed to projects.

He shared some highlights of what the money has supported:

• 4,767 new student seats created

• Eight new schools being built

• Seven schools undergoing substantial renovations that are in progress

• Safety systems are in place at each school — weapons detection system, traffic patterns, security in terms of cameras

• 22,000 Chromebooks for elementary school students

• 73,000 Chromebooks for student refresh program

Shimp said they are also providing PowerPoint presentations in the community to such groups as Rotary Clubs of Cape Coral, Estero, Fort Myers, and North Fort Myers.

“We ought to step outside and speak to what is happening as a result of the sales tax,” he said. “It has been interesting to be a presenter. We do encounter people that are against the tax, and they speak up. Generally speaking, the public reception of those presentations has been positive.”

Board member Cathleen Morgan complimented Shimp, as he has really pushed the committee to put together the presentation — peers speaking to peers.

Superintendent Dr. Ken Savage also thanked Shimp for his service, as the committee is independent in nature.

“This is not district advocacy,” he said. “Our role is to provide facts and that is all we should do. This is not our sales tax. This is the community, the voters. Our obligation is to provide information to the voters of what the impact is.”