Residents, officials review plans for charter high school
Wednesday night, local residents got a glimpse of a new high school being constructed for the city of Cape Coral Charter School System.
The school, which has been in the works for some time, will allow graduating middle school students the opportunity to continue their studies within the charter system.
At the meeting of the Southwest Cape Coral Neighborhood Association plans for the new municipal charter school – Oasis High — were on display. The two-story concrete building, designed with a “campus atmosphere” in mind, will house students in a total of 50,000 square feet.
“We are going to be good neighbors,” said Dr. Lee Bush, administrator for Cape Coral Charter Schools. “Our schools are going to be open because we feel they should be community schools.”
Bush said that after opening in 2003, the charter system has seen a steady increase in student enrollment. Today, enrollment at the elementary and middle schools are at full capacity and prospective students are being placed on a waiting list.
Student numbers within the Lee County School District, on the other hand, have dropped for the first time ever by more than 1,000 students.
The current Oasis High will utilize the AICE program through the University of Cambridge for ninth and tenth graders and focuses on preparing a student for the academic challenges of college.
When members of the community heard from school officials Wednesday night, they did voice some concerns.
A major issue for those living around the charter school property is the potential of increased traffic from opening a school, as well as the addition of new sidewalks for the safety of children exiting the campus.
Representatives from both McGarvey Development and Avalon Engineering, companies involved in designing and building the facility, assured residents that waiting parents will enter the school off of Southwest 36th Terrace and the line would curve behind the school rather than sit on the street.
They estimate that residents near the campus will see no “stacking” of cars, while currently they can see as many as 30 or 40 on a day of heavy congestion.
Steve Neff, city traffic manager, said that sidewalks will be constructed next to the school. The city received a grant from the state’s “Safe Routes to School” program — along with the Lee County School District — to add sidewalks on both Oasis Boulevard and Southwest 38th Terrace.
Furthermore, the city’s comprehensive plan has slated the vacant land near the Oasis campus for development as a city park, although some residents are worried about the fate of the wildlife in the wooded areas surrounding the school.
Director of Parks and Recreation Steve Pohlman said the his department wants to work with the charter system to develop the vacant land.
“It provides the opportunities for Park and Recreation to work with the charter school system to provide activities that will help support the school system,” said Pohlman.
Over the last year the department has been collecting only a fraction of its approximately $1,000 park impact fees per residence because of the economy. These are the main funds used for park development.