First District Municipal Assembly held at Caloosa Elementary School | News, Sports, Jobs

Lee County Schools Superintendent Christopher Bernier didn’t take office until May, but his goal is to create a world-class school system that creates the high-wage workers of the future.

And that means listening to the concerns of fellow educators, parents, bus drivers and yes, students. And they have plenty.

Bernier held the first of three planned town halls at Caloosa Elementary School on Thursday evening, where parents and educators gave him a list of what works, things they can do better in the short and long term. and things that should keep the superintendent up to date. night.

Bernier said the school year has started well, but not without issues such as transportation, which he said the district is working to alleviate.

“We have to worry about what’s best for our children. If we are to succeed, we must produce high-quality, college-ready graduates and build a world-class school system,” Bernier said. “High quality students are the engine of our economic engine. They go to school and start a career, earn money and keep the economy going.

This will allow communities to attract businesses where there are attractive employees and schools where employees’ families can go to school.

However, it was about engaging the community, and they were tasked with telling Bernier everything about their schools.

Good included school safety, educational materials, technology, student support, virtual learning enhancements, school board meetings are productive, with leadership responsive to feedback.

However, student transportation and departure times were top of mind, as some students are on the bus for hours a day, often waiting for the bus, or even starting first period lessons, in the dark.

There were also concerns for students with special needs and gifted students and a lack of staff and programs for them, a consistent dress code, overcrowded schools, graduation rates, the amount of homework, especially at the AP level, and teacher burnout.

Christy DeVigili, who was a top hopeful for District 1 Lee County School Board headquarters and has a child at North Fort Myers High School, loved the idea of ​​the superintendent coming to the schools.

“I have great hope for our new superintendent. Lots of positive changes have been made so far and I’m excited to see things written and implemented,” said DeVigili, who said student proximity to schools and dress code were his top concerns. “All issues were important and deserve our time and attention.”

Caloosa teacher Lynne Fallica said she’s glad Bernier is willing to listen to teachers and parents.

“I think it will correct the problems in our schools. What worries me is transportation. We have children on the bus for 90 minutes and they arrive late and sometimes in the dark,” said Fallica. “I also understand that there is a lot of growth in the system and we are doing our best to adapt.”

Bernier was delighted with the results.

“I am delighted that the community has proven itself. We had parents with significant issues and they brought up things that I totally expected and things to think about. » Bernier said. “I now have new things that will keep me awake at night.”

The evening began with the introduction of a new book vending machine, where students can spend a gold token for birthdays or for excellence on a book of their liking.

Caloosa Elementary was able to raise money for the machine through a read-a-thon, said Suzanne Roberts, 2008 Golden Apple winner and the person behind the idea.

“Our goal was to get a machine like this. We had one at Diplomat Elementary and we had a Read-a-thon in April. Students received pledges from family and friends and read 7,297 hours to fully fund the machine,” said Robert.

Blaise Shover, 9, was the first child to try out the light machine and chose a Star Wars book.

Daniel E. Murphy