Safety Council

Engage Estero Safety Council is made of volunteers serving as a voice for the citizens of greater Estero on safety and transportation priorities and issues. We advocate for related solutions to Village, County, and State Government organizations.

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Traffic on Corkscrew Road – Traveling East Corkscrew Road. Is it Safer?

Traffic on Corkscrew Road – Traveling East Corkscrew Road. Is it Safer?

East Corkscrew Road had improvements in 2014/2015 to help with traffic, but it was not enough. Lee County Department of Transportation (LDOT) collaborated with the developer as the Wild Blue Estero, FL development was planned and approved. LDOT required the Wild Blue east entrance to line up with Bella Terra Blvd.

In 2018, with road impact fees, LDOT installed a traffic signal at Bella Terra Blvd and Corkscrew Road. In April 2021, East Corkscrew Road widening, Phase I (Ben Hill Griffin to the east border of Bella Terra) started. As the Rivercreek development was planned and approved, working with LDOT, their entrance was aligned with the west entrance of Wild Blue. In 2023, the Rivercreek developer, GL Homes, worked with LDOT to fund a traffic signal. There is still hope the Wild Blue community will pay their fair share, as the warrants are not there for LDOT to fund a traffic signal.

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The State of Development: GECR Quarter 3, 2023

The State of Development: GECR Quarter 3, 2023

September 2023 Greater Estero Community Report Our 3rd GECR provides an essential update on the various building developments that will likely be scheduled in greater Estero over the next few years, together with an update on what changes we can expect regarding our...

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Environment Council

Engage Estero Environment Council is a volunteer group focusing on improving water and air quality and mitigating and eliminating the effects of climate warming in greater Estero.

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Health Council

Engage Estero Community Health Council comprises health* and safety-minded volunteers who think about community health comprehensively with a common desire to improve the overall health of the citizens of greater Estero.

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Your Healthcare Actions for 2024

Your Healthcare Actions for 2024

Health: Your Healthcare Actions for 2024                  In the early part of the New Year, taking stock of your health and the actions you should consider to help minimize your reliance on physicians and other healthcare...

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What helps to enhance Longevity?

What helps to enhance Longevity?

What helps to enhance Longevity?During the recent Engage Estero Community Meeting on January 25th at the Estero Recreational Center, Jodi Walborn, Blue Zones, and Policy Lead discussed the thought-provoking but realistic insight into what we can do to increase our...

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Education Council

Engage Estero mobilizes volunteers in our schools, sponsors scholarships, and promotes the involvement of the community through announcements and public forums.

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Updates on Issues of Impact

Engage Estero believes the best way to get a community involved is to make sure they are aware of the issues impacting their future, and know how to impact those decisions before they are made. We conduct and publish original research and articles aimed at getting residents Engaged.

The Future Plans for our

Schools and Students’ Education

in Greater Estero

Brought to you by the Engage Estero Education Council

by Mark Novitski, Consultant to Engage Estero

Principal Leslie Gunderson in her office at Pinewoods Elementary School behind a table full of paper flowers students made to celebrate her retirement.

The Planning Process

Adam MolloyIn the past, the process by which Lee District schools determined the need and location of new schools appeared, at times, to be random or politically driven. With Dr Molloy, the now Director of Planning, the process is becoming more standardized, documented, and repeatable. Every aspect of the process is being investigated and evaluated.

• Student projections will exceed 114,000 in 2033. This does not include Charter schools.
• The district’s demographer – Davis Demographics – is working on updated student counts. New information should be available in January 2024.
• Data will be by school zone and sub-zone.
• The planning staff is working with Davis Demographics and their commercial real estate contractor to understand the “price points” of housing in Lee County. Previously, a decision was made that homes at a certain “price point” indicated no children! After COVID, these “price points” are being reevaluated!

The School District Planning staff is working with developers to donate land for schools. This is particularly true in the new developments planned for East Corkscrew Road. The challenge is where the development is located, and there is a need for a new school in that location. Those discussions are ongoing, but the potential school sites are not in the 2024 Capital Plan.

How many acres does it take to build and what is the cost:

We must remember the cost of the new school includes the traffic infrastructure (e.g., Engineering traffic studies, permits, municipal road improvements, traffic lights, crosswalks, etc.) when a new school is built!

  • The School District could add capacity by adding buildings and seats at existing schools.
  • The School District will build PreK through 8th-grade schools in the current Capital plan and in the future. There are advantages to both options: 1) building traditional elementary and middle schools; 2) PreK through 8th The School District maintains a balancing act to ensure seats are available for all students.
  • The School District tracks District-owned land and its potential uses. Some parcels were purchased previously, and some parcels were donated. Not all parcels are rectangular and present challenges in school design.
  • Proximity
    1. A little early to see the results of the elementary school implementation in this school year. Data analysis will be improved by December 2024 (school year 2024-2025).
    2. With upcoming Board approval, the plan is to implement “Proximity” for the middle schools in the 24-25 school year.

Engage Estero reported in November that Camerata, the developers of the Kingston site proposed on East Corkscrew Road, plan to build 10,000 single-family homes, plus 700,000 feet of commercial space with land for a K-8 school. In addition, the FFD Farms development also has acreage for an elementary school in their plans. However, at this time, discussions with developers are still ongoing, and although the situation is flexible, the potential school sites are not currently in the 2024 Capital Plan.

Educational Improvements

PatriccaChris Patricca, Lee County School Board member, District 3, discussed her focus on needing to improve educational standards regarding:

  • The need to attract more teachers and provide suitable homes to encourage them to stay in our community – based on the “Workforce Housing” concept
  • The value of volunteers regarding JA and other potential programs
  • Encouraging greater parental involvement

Chris made the point that the views she expressed were hers alone and not necessarily those of the Lee County School Board

She pointed out that the district is updating benefits to attract and retain teachers. The challenge is affordable “workforce housing.” The district collaborates with other entities (LCSO, Lee Health, Fire Rescue Districts, etc.) to address this issue. Because of the high cost of homes or renting, the impact on attracting and keeping teachers in the area is creating considerable difficulties.

In addition to the teaching staff, it was pointed out that volunteers were a godsend to the district. They are vitally important to help with reading programs for mentoring and Junior Achievement in elementary schools. Many students need positive adult influence, and volunteers can provide that.

Junior Achievement programs are rewarding for the students and those involved, who gain pleasure from knowing how much they impact children’s financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. In an era where financial complexities are ever-increasing, equipping the younger generations with essential financial literacy skills is vitally important. Please get in touch with your local school principal to volunteer or Engage Estero’s Amy Kuchenbecker, responsible for arranging JA at Estero’s local schools, at amykuchen@yahoo.com.

In this busy world we live in, Chris said, “It can be difficult to get parental involvement in their child’s school. We must do everything we can to encourage parents to get involved in their child’s school.” She also pointed out that the district is working to implement Artificial Intelligence (AI) to lessen the workload of teachers and administrators, allowing them more time to work with the students.

The Florida legislature passed, and the Governor signed a bill to change the start times for high school students. The district is discussing how to implement this requirement. School districts in Florida that have implemented saw no change in performance with a later start time for high school students.

The bottom line is that the School District is listening to parents, community groups, and committees to improve the School District. Many of the suggested processes and activities are being reviewed by staff and Board members to implement updated or revised processes and procedures.

Engage Estero would like to thank Dr. Molloy and Chris Patricca for their time addressing these critical issues and sharing their views.

About Us

Be Informed, Get Engaged, and Make an Impact!

Engage Estero is an all-volunteer, nonpolitical, nonprofit Community Engagement Association. We exist to inform citizens of significant community issues and encourage citizen engagement to favorably impact the quality of life in greater Estero.

More Education Articles

Education Newsletter: June 2023

Education Newsletter: June 2023

Our June 2023 Education Newsletter covers Principal Gunderson’s retirement, Essay Scholarship Winners, and JA programs held this year.

LEAD Estero raises scholarship funds thanks to you!

LEAD Estero raises scholarship funds thanks to you!

LEAD Estero raises scholarship funds with "Breaking Par at Grandezza"Left to Right: Goflers Lawrence Sutherland, Fred Manley, and Michael BreesonLeft to Right: Amy Kuchenbecker (Engage Estero) and Dr. Sandra Kauanui (Guest of Honor). Credit: Michael Stevens, Lee...