Lee Co. School District considers giving naming rights to donors

FORT MYERS, Fla.- The Lee County School Board is hoping to attract new donors by offering them a more permanent symbol of thanks.

School board members are considering selling naming rights for schools throughout the county. The initiative would allow schools to name facilities such as libraries, gyms, or auditoriums after the person who donates a large sum of money.

Their goal is to help raise some desperately needed money for both schools, and the district as a whole.

Board members first looked at the proposal at a meeting on Tuesday, but they already had some reservations.

Many disagree with the plan for the allocation of the funds, which would only give 50 percent to the school, and give the other half to the district.

“I really think when you’re asking someone to put it $50,00, $25,000 or $100,000 and you’re telling them that half of that is going to be diverted to something else… They’re not gonna wanna hear that 50 percent of that money is going back into the general fund. They want it in that school,” said school board member Cathleen Morgan.

KariAnn Parker, a Fort Myers mom of six, agrees more money coming into the schools is a good thing, but has some concerns about the donors’ end-game.

“I think it’s really great when someone wants to give their money without any expectation in return,” said Parker.”However, I’ve seen over the years of being involved with this school district that sometimes money does come with a cost, and I think that can be a concern. What do they want in return for donating the money?”

Some schools within the district have already used the idea to raise money, but if passed, the policy would apply to all schools.

“The bottom line for me is you know, does it benefit my children? And what are the costs? Do the positives outweigh whatever the repercussions are? And if they do, then I think it’s a worthy cause,” said Parker.

The school board says the district’s portion of the funds could be used for a number of projects, including building maintenance, and operational costs. School board members will vote on the policy on Nov. 17.