homepage logo

Some Lee schools not meeting class size rules

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Feb 17, 2021


Ten Lee County schools did not meet class size compliance numbers in October but those numbers have improved, according to preliminary reports this month.

An October survey period showed that there were 10 schools and one charter school that did not meet class size compliance requirements.

All but four are now in compliance, district officials said last week.

Based on preliminary DOE class size reports, six district schools returned to compliance as of Feb. 1: Cypress Lake Middle School, Oak Hammock Middle School, Patriot Elementary School, Tanglewood Elementary School, Mariner High School, Diplomat Middle School.

Schools that still need to reach compliance include Treeline Elementary, Riverdale High School, North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts and Ida S. Baker High School.

Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins said the district received a memorandum on Friday, Feb. 5, from the Department of Education relative to class sizes.

The memorandum requests that the school district present its compliance plan to the Department of Education by Feb. 19. The simple plan has to be certified by the school board and the charter school has to certify its own.

“Tomorrow really is the only opportunity that we have to bring it to the board prior to Feb. 19,” Adkins said at a Monday meeting.

The district submitted its appeal last month and will now send its response of what they will do to assure compliance by October 2021.

There was a strain put on class sizes when families had the opportunity to return to face-to-face instruction anytime throughout the semester, according to the district, but many teachers chose not to return to the classroom.

There are many initiatives under way, such as “compensating teachers to work through their planning to create additional class sections for students, hosting ‘Become a Teacher’ virtual workshops, attending and hosting virtual recruitment events, working with our colleges for early release of college interns to instructional vacancies, advertising openings via paid and organic ads on social media and sourcing candidates directly to schools that need them.”

Adkins said the challenge is making sure they have the teachers to staff their buildings. If they are fortunate enough to open schools fully face-to-face next year, he believes teachers from Lee Home Connect and Lee Virtual School will come back to the classroom.

“As vaccinations roll out, more staff will feel comfortable coming back. (We will) see some teachers returning back to the school district,” Adkins said. “As of today it would be difficult to bring those 10 district schools into compliance.”

Since they have until October 2021 to come into compliance, he said at this point he is not concerned because the Department of Education has given them flexibility.