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Guest opinion: Education is a dynamic process, the economic driver for the community

School Board members make a commitment to set policy to make system changes to meet evolving needs

June 7, 2013
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

As chair of the Lee County School Board, and as an experienced educator, I am concerned about the fallout from the recent attention gained by allegations of board member misbehavior, superintendent and staff investigations, continued anonymous letters, and lack of focus at the district level on the children and the job at hand. We all share a role in where we are now and we all have the responsibility to move beyond it.

There has been an impact on staff morale, student achievement, district finances, and community support related to the actions of the school board, the retirement and replacement of the superintendent and what has been described as a culture of fear!

We must put all of this behind us. It is time to move forward and do what is right for kids. We have an opportunity before us. With the focus on children, the seated board along with the incoming superintendent can bridge the gap and prepare for a new day.....Then, the tone will be set.

In spite of the situation, our school staff members have worked diligently to keep the ball rolling - the children are making progress as evidenced by their improved test scores, academic, athletic and arts achievements. We have a powerful resource in place and the support of the district leadership is needed!

With focus on the strengths of the Lee County School District, we can work together to solve existing problems. Today's economy still finds us dealing with decreased Federal and State dollars, unfunded mandates, a diminished tax base, and not enough money for the classroom.

Yet, thanks to the hard work of our staff members, we have been able to manage a raise for staff members while other government entities have had to cut positions and impose furloughs. Transportation has already been streamlined; specialized programs have been increased and enhanced. Industry certifications are at an all time high! We have had tremendous support from the business community and have developed a better relationship with our minority population as we have worked to bridge the achievement gap.

Achieving these goals takes a collaborative effort that involves communication between school, family and community. Let's join together and move forward!

- Mary Fischer is the chairman of the Lee County School Board



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