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School board candidates share views

By Staff | Jul 27, 2010

County school board candidates and commission candidates whose names will appear on the primary ballot attended a forum hosted by the Cape Coral Civic Association Tuesday night.
In the non-partisan school board race, candidates presented their platforms for the community and Cape Coral Civic Association to hear on Tuesday night.
District 1 candidates Mary Fischer, Arnold Gibbs and John Traube; District 4 candidates Don Armstrong and Steve Teuber; and District 5 candidates Tom Scott and Elinor Scricca were all present at the candidate forum in the Cape Coral Yacht Club.
Issues addressed by the school board candidates included impact fees, the FCAT exam, the use of school facilities by the public, the notion of a 12-month school year, district transportation and high school graduation rates.
Both Scott and Scricca said impact fees are no longer needed.
“I would discourage any impact fees, the need to build new schools today is non-existent,” said Scott. “We were looking at a period of time of very rapid growth, but that trend has turned the other direction.”
“No, we don’t need any more impact fees, however the impact fees helped us when we purchased land and saved $14 million,” said Scricca.
Scricca, an incumbent to the school board, pointed out that Lee County’s student population grew by approximately 30,000 students in as little as three years, and a land bank was needed to ensure there was enough space for all students.
Candidates were also asked about the FCAT exam and whether it is a true measure of student learning.
“I think we need to put more emphasis on preparing our kids to be productive citizens. We should test them on the basic courses at the end of every semester,” said Gibbs.
“We have been teaching to the FCAT,” said Traube. “The concept of the comprehensive high school was one I fought for in the curriculum. FCAT is not a way to motivate children.”
During the forum, candidates were also asked whether they support extending the school year through the summer.
“I am in favor of year round schools and I think we can explore that and set a program to meet the need of working families in the community,” said Fischer.
Transportation in the Lee County School District has been a major issue this year, with some residents concerned that students are riding the bus for too long. Teuber, the other incumbent to the school board, said only 13 children ride the bus for two hours or more, and nine of those received their first choice school under student assignment.
Armstrong, on other hand, said changes are needed because no student should be on the bus that long.
“We need to start looking at routing, especially this audit our school is doing at this moment,” said Armstrong. “The transportation costs are outrageous.”