The Village of Estero and the School District of Lee County are teaming up to provide high quality education through optimal use of resources. A Memorandum of Understanding approved by both organizations may become a model for other communities in Lee County, and potentially other parts of the state, to follow. The memorandum documents the spirit of cooperation which already exists between the Village and the School District.

Objectives of this ongoing relationship include:

  • Coordinating resident volunteer opportunities, such as mentoring and tutoring in Estero’s public schools
  • Promoting the development of career academies and job skill programs in collaboration with local businesses
  • Encouraging the development of student internships with local businesses
  • Developing a student assignment system that prioritizes assignment of students living within the Village to schools located within Estero’s geographic boundaries (lottery prioritization)
  • Promoting the co-location of future educational and recreational facilities in coordination with the Village’s
  • Comprehensive Plan
  • Promoting coordination and potential shared financing of infrastructure projects which are mutually beneficial to the School District and the Village

This agreement will benefit all Estero residents, even those without school-aged children. The quality of local schools greatly impacts the property values within a community.

“If people believe there is a better educational system in Estero, it make it more attractive for people looking to move into the community and for businesses looking to locate within the community,” said Village Council member Nick Batos, liaison to Lee County Schools. “This is unique that a city will work with the school district to try to fill in the gaps.”

Batos has been meeting with School Board representative Chris Patricca for several months to assess how the Village may be able to assist the School District, which is facing a funding crisis. Through this partnership, Estero may become a model community for other municipalities looking to enhance educational and recreational opportunities through synergized efforts with the School District.

The Village has not committed to any specific projects at this point but is committed to rallying the Estero community around its schools. An example of this is Evening Under the Shadow Wood, a community fundraiser benefitting the Estero High School Culinary Program. This gala is not an official Village of Estero event, but the Village helped promote the event, which raised $30,000 in donations over the last two years, enabling Estero students to compete in an upcoming culinary competition in Orlando.

Similarly, the Village rallied around the Estero High School Girls Soccer Team, which advanced all the way to the state finals. Promoting the success of Estero’s students creates a more vibrant community where residents feel connected to their local schools.

The Village plans to help recruit about 160 volunteers needed to run Junior Achievement financial literacy classes for elementary, middle and high school students. Another long-range goal is to teach students in Estero schools more about their local history through a connection with Koreshan State Park. Additionally, Estero residents may benefit from sharing recreational facilities like the track and tennis courts at Estero High School.

Recently, Councilman Batos met with a group of Estero High School seniors who are interested in how local government works, giving them a tour of Village Hall. On March 7, Village Council recognized 45 Estero High School students in the Cambridge Program, including two who have received the prestigious Cambridge Award.

These types of interactions are expected to become more frequent as the Village and the School District continue to cultivate this mutually beneficial relationship. It is a win-win for the students, the residents, the Village and the school district.

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