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— Those hoping that a high school could be built on Tract K in Marco Island might have hit another speed bump.

Collier County School District Chief Operations Officer Michele LaBute said Tuesday that the state of Florida will not grant the district permission to build another high school.

The reason? Several Collier County high schools have vacant seats.

The issue came up during the operations subcommittee meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Committee member James Horner brought the issue up, asking what was happening with the 11.6 acre parcel, which is located on the west side of Tigertail Court between Somerset and century drives.

The property, along with the piece of land that holds Tommie Barfield Elementary School and the Marco Island Charter Middle School, was given to the district by the Deltona Corp.

Though the Tommie Barfield site was given to the district to be developed into a school, Tract K has no such requirement in the deed, LaBute said..

LaBute told the committee that there are 325 high school students on Marco Island. Of those, 289 attend Lely High School. The remainder attend high school elsewhere, she said.

LaBute said the district has more than adequate vacancies at Lely, Golden Gate, Barron Collier and Naples high schools to accommodate the high school students on Marco Island. Those schools have vacancies as a result of declining student enrollment.

LaBute said to construct a new school, the district has to show a need for a new school. There is not one at this time, she said.

Even if there was, LaBute said the district would not be able to offer the island’s 325 students the types of programs or activities that larger high schools have. A small high school in the district has about 2,000 students, she said.

In addition, she said the minimum amount of land the district needs to build is 17 to 23 acres for elementary schools. High schools, with athletic fields and other amenities, would need even more land.

“You could potentially build a small three-story school on it,” she said.

The site was once considered as a potential place for the Marco Island Charter Middle School. The site was nixed, however, when the district discovered a nest of eagles in the center of the property, LaBute said.

The Collier County School District has proposed putting a small solar field on Tract K. The district has proposed donating the rest of the land to the city.

Two grant proposals totaling more than $3 million were put forward by the district and Marco-based United Energy Technology to fund the proposed solar project, which would provide energy to the schools on Marco Island. Monday, those plans did not make the short list of energy projects to be funded by the Florida Energy and Climate Commission.

The Marco project may be in limbo. LaBute told the commission Tuesday that the district plans to invest $20 million in capital funds in the coming years for solar technology. Two of the schools identified by district officials to participate in the project are Osceola and Pelican Marsh elementary schools.

In other business, commission members stressed the need for the Collier County School District to hire an internal auditor.

The issue came up during the committee’s discussion of the district’s strategic plan. The strategic plan, which will be the plan for the district through 2011, has four goals: improving student achievement and development; developing a budget that sustains or enhances student programs and services; enhancing recruitment, retention and training of district and school leaders; and improving internal and external communication.

Under each goal is a set of objectives and measures to see if the district is meeting the goal; and an action plan of the initiatives or activities the district will take to realize the goal.

Committee member Robert Flesher said he sees the need for the district to establish an internal audit in the action plan under its finances goal. Flesher said he realized the budgets were tight, but felt the position was a necessary one.

The district had unsuccessfully tried to fill the position.

Once the budget got tight, the district reevaluated the position and found that the cost-benefit was not worth it, LaBute said.

LaBute added that the district is audited by the state.

Flesher told LaBute that he thought an internal auditor would go a long way to improve public perception.

“You have had one reported operational audit in the last six years,” he said.

Flesher said corporations that have budgets the size of Collier County have an internal auditor position.

The Marco Eagle contributed to this report.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 10

Marconian writes:

Gibbs High School is a public, coeducational college-preparatory grade 9-12 high school. It is at 7628 Tazewell Pike in the unincorporated Corryton area in North Knoxville. The school is located near the intersection of Tazewell Pike and East Emory Road.

Gibbs High School was started in 1913 in a two-story brick building built on 12 acres. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1937. The school’s second building burned in 1950. A third building for the high school was constructed from 1951 to 1952 and moved into in 1953. The building was renovated in 1983.

Gibbs High School is attended by approximately 1,050 students. Its feeder schools are Halls and Holston middle schools.

Gibbs is a comprehensive high school. The school offers several Advanced Placement courses, including biology, English Language & Composition, English Literature & Composition, statistics and U.S. history. Students can also take three foreign languages and arts classes such as visual art, vocal music, chorus and concert band.

Like Halls High School, students from Gibbs can take advantage of career educational opportunities through North Knox Career and Technical Center and their co-op and intern programs. Students can study construction, carpentry, welding, computers, forensic science, cosmetology, technology engineering and other such pursuits. The center is located at 7411 Ledgerwood Drive, which is about 11 miles from the high school.

Students at Gibbs can engage in sports such as baseball, basketball, cheerleading, cross country, dance, football, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track, volleyball and wrestling. The school mascot is the eagle.

somebody must of forgot to tell them that this was impossible!!!

mimom writes:

So exactly what does a school of 1,050 toothless hillbilly's taking half their classes at a votech have to do with Marco Island not getting a High School?

themessiah writes:

HAHAHA......

Marco students flood the halls of Marco Island High to embark on their studies to become cosmetologists, carpenters & welders.

Gibbs High is NOT located in "COLLIER COUNTY" and does NOT have to adhere to the rules and regulations put forth both the Collier County School Board.

Marconian writes:

I hope you two teach your children to have more morals and respect toward the common man than you have. If not then you two are perfect examples of whats wrong with a lot of kids in today's time! Toothless hillbillies come on where is your head at? never mind just read your post you'll figure it out.what the school board allows!!! please who died and left them boss they work for the people and if enough people rally they have to do what they are told! We do pay there wages!!!

liberator100 writes:

Marconian a.k.a. Mario Sanchez
You are a total moron.
Maybe you should call yourself "moronian".
you don't even pay taxes and you claim to pay the School Board Members wages?

Fossil writes:

The above posts responding to Marcomanian do not contribute to this discussion. They are written by people who obviously cannot respond to Marcomanian's points. So, instead of offering up valid reasons to disprove the points, they waste our time by distracting us with name calling. School districts in our country are able to offer good educations to schools built on smaller land imprints, why cannot Collier County do the same? Elected school officials and the civil servants they hire, are employees of the citizens who pay their wages. These elected officials make policy and implement that policy. They frequently amend their policy and rethink past decisions. Because the policy makers are political animals they on occassion need to be remineded by their constituents that they need to take a second look at something. Collier County elected school officials are very sensitive to the publics perceptions. Pressure them if you want a high school on Marco Island. Ignore these small minded name callers.

lauralbi1 writes:

Incorporate a High School into the Middle School. We are going to have to pay for it and that is the only way it will work.
Ed Issler

Marconian writes:

First of all thank you fossil for your clear minded perception of my point. That was just one example of thousands of schools across America that offer a full educational experience without a college sized facility! Now to liberator100 Mario Sanchez I can assure you I am not! I don't even no who he is other than seeing his name posted in blogs and I believe he may have a few years on me in age as well, but apparently you deem yourself a detective. Not a very good one at that! But rather than your just another small minded incompetent fool with an opinion that hasn't any point or Merit.

themessiah writes:

Incorporating a high school into the middle school is a bad idea.

You want your 11/12 year old 6th grader at school with 17/18 year old high school students?

That is not a good mix. It only worked on Little House on the Prairie.

Marconian writes:

Another inacurate comment from themessiah. I can think of four high schools/middle schools that are adjoining buildings right of the top of my head one In South Haven Michigan. (LC.Moore) that is state of the art complete with an indoor pool! Little house on the prairie, shut up! And get with reality.

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