Historic Fort Myers Beach school on Hurricane Ian’s casualty list
Fort Myers Beach Elementary School suffered damage in Hurricane Ian.

Eleven of Lee County's 81 schools are facing either significant repair or rebuilding after Hurricane Ian.

Hurricane Ian might have wiped out a part of Fort Myers Beach history going back 75 years.

Fort Myers Beach Elementary School has stood at 2751 Oak Street since 1947 — with enough history to get on the National Register of Historic Places. But now it’s among the 11 Lee County schools either facing significant repair or total rebuilding, according to school district officials.

Republican Rep. Spencer Roach tweeted late Monday that the school is one of three schools “destroyed” in the Category 4 storm that came ashore in Lee County, in addition to Sanibel School and Hector Cafferata, Jr. Elementary School in Cape Coral. 

But Lee County schools are not ready to give up on repairing the existing building just yet, according to Rob Spicker, the district’s spokesman.

“We recognize the historical and educational value the school has on Fort Myers Beach and will work with our inspectors, construction partners and the community to determine the next steps,” he said. “It’s among the schools that it’s going to take a significant amount of time to repair and rebuild. It’s a historical landmark, so we also have to be cognizant of the requirements surrounding that.”

The school, which serves grades K-5, was put on the national register in 1999. Originally known as Fort Myers School, it’s the largest historic building on the island, according to the Florida Heritage Tourism Interactive Catalog.

Sanibel School suffered significant water damage, Spicker said. Another 54% of the district’s schools, about 44 schools, sustained damage in “low need of repair,” according to the school district.

Right now, Lee County schools are closed until further notice — no reopening date has been announced.

Certified building inspectors are currently visiting campuses for a professional opinion, according to the school district’s Facebook page.

In addition to Lee County, school districts in Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee and Sarasota counties have not yet announced an opening date since Hurricane Ian roared ashore on the state’s Gulf Coast.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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