Cape Coral taps Lee County school district for help with charter school money woes

Charter schools in Cape Coral are in need of renovations, upkeep and the money to pay for it all. Replacement buses and carpeting, new playgrounds and new technology are all among what the City of Cape Coral Charter School Authority says it needs but doesn’t have the money to buy.

Superintendent Jacquelin Collins of Oasis Charter Schools in Cape Coral is on record claiming much of the money pit is the schools’ annual $3.2 million lease on its buildings.

“We’re finding that the revenue streams that come in do not keep up with inflation, and they just don’t pay the bills any longer,” Collins said.

The City of Cape Coral began to debate how it might help the charter school system in 2019. In 2021, the city is looking for help from The School District of Lee County.

City leaders have asked Lee County School Board for a cut of the District’s half-cent sales tax revenue. That money is used to support maintenance, safety and security, technology as well as construction of Lee County schools.

As of March Lee County schools have collected more than $163 million in sales tax benefits.

We asked if the school board would consider Cape Coral’s request.

The District said in a statement it is currently reviewing the half-cent sales tax referendum and the ballot that was brought forth to the public.

In February, Cape Coral’s committee of the whole talked about helping the charter schools make ends meet.

“If there is a way for us to pull this off, we must,” Councilwoman Jennifer Nelson said. “The schools, as our superintendent stated, I mean, families move here because of their schools.”

The city hopes the school board sees things the same way. Cape Coral City Council plans to talk about the half-cent sales tax at its upcoming council meeting Wednesday.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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