Guest Commentary: 100 Days: March 2023
Governing bodies are often measured by their governance during the first 100 days out of the gate. It sets the tone and direction of what can and will be accomplished. This new school board has now surpassed its 100 days on the job, and I am proud of what we, as a district, have accomplished.
The culture of an organization is vital to its success, and it starts at the top. I am pleased to see this board and Superintendent Bernier focus on professionalism, leadership, community engagement, and, most importantly, putting our kids first.
I have already observed cultural organizational changes:
• Board meetings focused on the business of the district
• Teacher and staff listening sessions from our Superintendent
• In-depth discussions with our parents
• Consistently going into our community to get feedback
For our employees, we have moved to a “speak up, listen up” work culture that promotes identification of issues and productive discussion to make positive culture changes. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but we are on the right path.
We are five months out since Hurricane Ian devastated our area. I am proud of the work our district has accomplished, especially with our three most impacted schools.
• The Sanibel School recently re-opened, and it was amazing to see the smiles on the faces of the children, teachers, staff
• Regarding Fort Myers Beach Elementary, there have been many productive discussions between the district and the community with substantial progress towards a solution.
• Finally, for the damaged Hector A. Cafferata Jr. Elementary School in Cape Coral, in an upcoming meeting the board will review a plan for a new campus that will be expanded to a K-8 school.
One of the largest changes to this district in decades is the implementation of the proximity plan for elementary school students. The plan will:
• Reduce bus ride times and bus tardiness
• Fix operational inefficiencies
• Provide communities with a closer relationship with their schools
Most importantly, this plan will keep our kids closer to home, allowing our families to focus their time on academics.
Supporting Our Teachers & Staff
Our teachers and staff are the bedrock of our district. As a board member, and as a parent, I am truly thankful for all they do. As part of our commitment to teachers and staff, tentative agreements have been reached for pay increases, as well as a reduction in the annual cost of health insurance. Furthermore, our district is focusing on retention so that we keep our employees long term.
With the benefit of a supportive local legislative delegation, we have developed strong relationships with our state legislators. The board is working hand-in-hand with our elected state officials to ensure our district is in the best possible spot after the devastation of Hurricane Ian.
Additionally, our legislators are looking into support in the areas of career and technical education, safety and security, and additional after school programs for our students. Thank you to our delegation for your support of our district and our community.
As for the future, there is much on the horizon. I am looking forward to future discussions on academic achievement, the revamp of our district policies, an audit consulting opportunity with the Lee County Clerk, and the Guardian Program to further protect our students and schools.
This is just the beginning, and there is still much left to do. I am truly excited for our children’s futures and hope that you are, too!
— Samuel Fisher serves as vice chair of the Lee County School Board. He represents District 1 which includes Cape Coral.