After some wobbly first steps, the city of Cape Coral's Charter School System is striding toward becoming a viable kindergarten-through-graduation educational option.
The city-run system will break ground for Oasis High School on Jan. 24. The two-story, 51,932-square-foot plant, which will include three science labs, an art room with outdoor art area, a culinary kitchen, two outdoor basketball courts, a multi-purpose room and a gym / training facility, is scheduled to open in August in time for the new school year.
Oasis High School will be the fourth school built since the system was founded in 2005 and will crown a system that includes Oasis Elementary School, Christa McAuliffe Elementary School and Oasis Middle School, which now houses grades 9-10 of the fledgling high school program.
For those who believed the city could found and operate a school system designed to give Cape parents a public school alternative to the School District of Lee County, Tuesday will be a momentous day. For those who believed the system would succeed when enrollment first faltered, Tuesday will be a day of vindication.
The city of Cape Coral Charter School System opened with lots of fanfare followed by a couple of very rough years when enrollment could not pay for operations and the city had to bail the schools out with loans. The system now serves approximately 1,800 students, offering what the city touts as a private school education in a public school setting. The schools are funded with educational share dollars in the same manner as other public schools throughout Florida. With the exception of the loans - which are being paid back - city tax revenues are not used for school operations.
It's a success story with much of the credit going to the educational management team that gave the system legs - principals Dr. Lee Bush, Steven Hook and Chris Terrill, with additional credit going to the parent volunteers, the schools' board and foundation, and those in the city administration itself who kept the faith.
"The construction of the Charter High School is a direct result of the efforts of our governing board, mayor and council, city manager and city staff," said Bush, also the Charter School Authority Administrator, in a prepared statement released this week. "Parents who saw our system as the best educational opportunity for their children also worked diligently to make the K-12 system a reality, and a success. A dedicated K-12 teaching and support staff, and motivated students will ensure that our high school will have a long-lasting impact on Cape Coral. The challenging Cambridge Curriculum, along with university partnerships for dual enrollment and a unique business program will prepare our students for the world of tomorrow."
We certainly do hope so. We, like council, are again taking things somewhat on faith as the collapse of the housing market has brought growth to a standstill and thrown the School District of Lee County into near financial crisis. Still, we thank those who brought us this far and wish those taking the city-run system to the next level every success.
The ground breaking is set for 5 p.m. at the campus at 3415 Oasis Boulevard.
For information on the school system, or enrollment - which is open to all city residents - visit www.capecharterschools.org/
- Breeze editorial