Marco to consider building a high school in the park

Questions remain as to the plausibility of the plan

Proposed charter high school campus plans at Marco's Mackle Park.

Submitted City of Marco Island

Proposed charter high school campus plans at Marco's Mackle Park.

— Proponents of a charter high school on Island are attempting to break new ground as they seek Marco’s Mackle Park as the site of a new campus.

Marco Island Academy and Discovery Center, the non-profit organization behind the initiative, is seeking a letter of intent from City Council to locate a charter high school at Mackle Park.

President of the Marco Island Academy and Discovery Center, Jane Watt, will present the request to City Council on Monday at a meeting which is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

“We prefer not to comment on this until after the City Council meeting on Monday,” said Tara Hagan of the Discovery Center.

Marco Parks and Recreation Director Bryan Milk reported that he met with Watt and leaders of the organization on three occasions, initially with the intent of locating potential sites for a charter high school on public or private property on the Island.

“During the course of these meetings, Mackle Park was considered an ideal site for locating the academy,” Milk wrote in a memo to council on the issue Wednesday.

While Milk reported initial concerns about sharing the site, he said that the Discovery Center board disclosed they would construct the academy and redevelop Mackle Park facilities.

“Redevelopment would entail rebuilding the community center, covered basketball court, and existing recreation facilities on-site,” Milk reported.

According to the non-profit board, all academy facilities would be owned by the city and available to support after-school activities and further education, he added.

“Currently, the academy has a limited budget and the school needs a site to support further fundraising and grant writing efforts. Locating the academy at Mackle Park would provide the board opportunity to apply for grants and seek donations for development purposes,” Milk advised council.

The proposal is being considered on the grounds that sole financial responsibility lies with Marco Island Discovery Center, Inc.

Milk added in his report that he “believes this to be a unique opportunity and supports the concept of council providing a letter of intent to the Marco Island Academy and Discovery Center Board of Directors endorsing the concept of locating a charter high school at Mackle Park.”

Milk, the former city planner exploring the idea for Marco, was not available before press time to share if there are any zoning or development restrictions that may need to be addressed.

So far, Collier County School District officials remain opposed to the idea saying that there is not enough of a need demonstrated for another high school in the area.

Further, while the attorneys for the city from the Weiss-Serota law firm have advised City Manager Steve Thompson that deed restrictions from the Marco Island Civic Association may be overturned by the city, current deed restrictions put in place by the Deltona developers years ago and enforced by MICA, may present an obstacle.

MICA board member Steve Stefanides said that deed restrictions exist at Mackle Park calling for the land to be used for recreation. MICA officials are not sure that a school could fit that use, he said.

Stafanides is not opposed to the idea yet, but said a lot of questions need to be answered.

Financial plausibility is a further concern. The city spent about $300,000 on the master plan for Mackle Park and those plans did not include school buildings.

Terri DiSciullo of the Parks and Recreation Foundation said several months ago that she hoped the Foundation could help raise money to build the new Mackle Park community center. Whether the non-profit would do so for the school may be another matter.

Could the Discovery Center realistically raise several million dollars for park improvements, as well as several million for a new school? The group proposed opening campus components as early as fall 2010.

More questions than answers remained in advance of council’s review of the issue.

Vice Chairman Frank Recker said he thought the idea of the school in the park warranted attention.

“I think the concept of a charter high school and discovery center is an innovative idea that deserves public consideration and analysis. It could present Marco Island with an opportunity for a unique and exciting educational center for our community along with significant grant opportunities for funding such an enterprise. In my view, the proponents of this school and discovery center could interface with our Park and Rec Committee to at least explore the possibilities.”

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

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Comments » 37

getreal239 writes:

You have got to be kidding!!! I can't believe what I am reading. How selfish can these people really be? Take land set aside for public use so their kids won't have to go to Lely! This idea will be met with vehement opposition, to put it mildly!

freedomofspeech1 writes:

We will not give up OUR public land for a private school. There is limited park space on Marco and there is no way we should allow this to happen. I cant believe the Director of Parks is in favor of this! This can in no way enhance the experience of ALL Marco Islanders and will only service a few. If the few want a school go find it somewhere else. There is a very fine school 20 minutes off the island that is a FULL SERVICE High School. This land is totally inadequate for a bonafide school. What I can see happening here is if they get the land as shown on the diagram, they will eventually expand and take over the ENTIRE park. PEOPLE OF MARCO STAND UP AGAINST THIS RIDICULOUS PROPOSAL!

OldMarcoMan writes:

Interesting, and yet neither of you blogged in favor of the Veterans Park, or any of our Parks for that matter.
Do I smell Teachers Union?
Lely Teachers?

Joe_Btfsplk writes:

There is no need for a high school on Marco Island. This serves a few selfish parents at the expense of the many. They can build a private school on private land funded by the parents.

condoseller writes:

Mackle Park is deed restricted so it can forever be a public park. The school needs to go somewhere else.

Fossil writes:

The comments above against building the high school are from people who do not care about our community. If they did, they would be working to support this effort not tear it down. Marco Island needs a high school for our children. The only "full-service" requirement is to give the school everything it needs to educate our children. All the rest is a waste of money and designed to entertain. There are thousands of communities throughout the U.S.A. the size of Marco Island, that are able to provide their citizens with a high school. Marco Island citizens have more wealth then most of them. It is a crime that this project was not already completed. Support this effort.

marcoislander writes:

mr. milk had better start looking for a new job we the people oppose this idea

Smeg writes:

No problem! Byron is creative. He'll simply fill in the lake. Those pesky fish get all smelly when they die from the chemicals used to ward off the remaining wildlife (fire ants).
He's evicted most wildlife except rats, roaches, snakes and fire ants. When is he going to get our dog park open? At the grand opening Byron might give a demo on how to capture dog urine in a plastic bag.

marcoislandres writes:

I hope the high school wont interfere with the dog park

freedomofspeech1 writes:

in response to Fossil:

The comments above against building the high school are from people who do not care about our community. If they did, they would be working to support this effort not tear it down. Marco Island needs a high school for our children. The only "full-service" requirement is to give the school everything it needs to educate our children. All the rest is a waste of money and designed to entertain. There are thousands of communities throughout the U.S.A. the size of Marco Island, that are able to provide their citizens with a high school. Marco Island citizens have more wealth then most of them. It is a crime that this project was not already completed. Support this effort.

Fossill says "All the rest is a waste of money and designed to entertain." You are completely out of touch will reality. If you think people will send their kids to a school where they cannot get a well rounded education that includes extracurricular activities and sports than you are wrong. As a matter of fact many universities will not accept an applicant unless they illustrate a well rounded high school experience. This site is too small. The number of children that potentially will attend is too small. GIVE UP! IF YOU LIVE ON MARCO YOU ACCEPT THE FACT THAT IT IS A RETIREMENT/RESORT COMMUNITY. THE MAJORITY OF THE INTELLIGENT PEOPLE ON THE ISLAND SEND THEIR KIDS TO THEIR ZONED SCHOOL WHICH IS LELY. THERE IS A SMALL MINORITY OF PEOPLE THAT MANEUVER THE SYSTEM AND SEND THEIR KIDS TO OTHER PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THERE IS ALSO AN EVEN SMALLER AMOUNT THAT ATTEND PRIVATE SCHOOLS....THIS PROPOSED SCHOOL IS A PRIVATE ENDEAVOR AND SHOULD BE FINANCED 100% WITH PRIVATE DOLLARS WITH ZERO ASSISTANCE BY THE MARCO ISLAND TAXPAYERS!

Fossil writes:

Freedomofspeech: You are making stuff up. Name one University in the United States that denies entry to an applicant that graduated from a High School without a football team or cheerleader squad. As for Marco Island being a "retirement resort community"; talk to Councilman Popoff and he will tell you that is a myth. Open up your wallet and give our kids the school they deserve.

u2cane writes:

Fossil and Old are the names of the two people that support the idea, ironic, because that is what this idea is dead, beatdown, dying, old, and ancient. JUST LET THIS HIGH SCHOOL ISSUE DIE! Nobody but a few parents who are racist want this. If by some chance this school is built, I hope tons of East Naples kids coming to it to add diversity.

getreal239 writes:

Fossil, freedom is right. Universities do consider student involvement when looking at applications, and they give millions of dollars nationwide to football players! Can't believe you don't know that! Why don't you just stick to subjects that you know something about?

kosherdeli writes:

in response to marcoislandres:

I hope the high school wont interfere with the dog park

I hope everyone knows the New Dog Park Is Not going to be Wheelchair Accessible. Didn’t anyone hear of The US Department of Justice Americans with Disabilities Act (Referred to as the ADA)? What a disgrace this will be, for the Americans with Disabilities who have Service Dogs. I was told they didn’t have enough money to make it Accessible. I have a question, if the City doesn’t have enough money to make the Dog Park incompliance with the ADA Codes, where are they going to get the money to pay the ADA Fines when they start receiving them?

Fossil writes:

getreak: I don't know why I bother. You are either a kid on the football team or the parent of one. Football is not a requirement to be accepted to a University. If that were true, Harvard whould have the best football team in the nation. The football program only benefits those kids who have extrodinary athletic ability. Less than 1% of any high school athletic program are so gifted. If you really believe what you say, then tell me why students who do not play football, belong to the cheerleader squad, movie club, yearbook club, etc., even get into a University? I'll give you a clue: It has something to do with hard work and using extra time to study so you may graduate at the top of your class. Attending school is not supposed to be fun, it's a place to work hard and learn how to surviive in a very competitive environment. Good luck to you.

freedomofspeech1 writes:

in response to Fossil:

getreak: I don't know why I bother. You are either a kid on the football team or the parent of one. Football is not a requirement to be accepted to a University. If that were true, Harvard whould have the best football team in the nation. The football program only benefits those kids who have extrodinary athletic ability. Less than 1% of any high school athletic program are so gifted. If you really believe what you say, then tell me why students who do not play football, belong to the cheerleader squad, movie club, yearbook club, etc., even get into a University? I'll give you a clue: It has something to do with hard work and using extra time to study so you may graduate at the top of your class. Attending school is not supposed to be fun, it's a place to work hard and learn how to surviive in a very competitive environment. Good luck to you.

Fossil if you believe attending school is not supposed to be fun than you are out of touch with reality. MOST students in the country are not as driven as you allude to. Many students wouldnt stay in school if they werent given the opportunity to explore a wide variety of activitites and curricula. The Marco school wont even be able to offer the academic curricula that a public school can. The kids that attend that school wont even be able to enroll in the courses that Lely or any other public school does. This is not even about extras, its about the whole experience. Will some be attracted to this school? Of course! There will always be a group that desires this type of education. For those....they have a choice now on Marco....The Baptist church has a high school program that is essentially virtual....ENJOY!

Smeg writes:

in response to kosherdeli:

I hope everyone knows the New Dog Park Is Not going to be Wheelchair Accessible. Didn’t anyone hear of The US Department of Justice Americans with Disabilities Act (Referred to as the ADA)? What a disgrace this will be, for the Americans with Disabilities who have Service Dogs. I was told they didn’t have enough money to make it Accessible. I have a question, if the City doesn’t have enough money to make the Dog Park incompliance with the ADA Codes, where are they going to get the money to pay the ADA Fines when they start receiving them?

They don't have enough money to make it accessible to the disabled? The ADA is not a suggestion - it's the law.

The rest rooms, parking, walkways, gate entries, vending curbs, ramps all facilities must be ADA compliant. Byron wouldn't intensionally violate our civil rights.

Liability insurance to cover the animal attacks will not come cheap though. Byron has it all figured out. I missed the grand opening last week.

OldMarcoMan writes:

Its not just the Dog Park,its the whole Town. If it wasn't for Councilor Forcht complaining the Meeting Room would still be out of compliance and the Esplanod is a Joke.

kpeace2241 writes:

Ok, first I would like to say that school is not fun here on the island. They push the kids to excel and weed out the ones who do not make the "grade" but why is that shocking for anyone who has actually lived on this island for more than a minute. This Island is really no more than who can out due the other. As for the high school, I totally support the idea that if people want it they should be the ones to pay for it, on their land, using their money. Lely is a high school so what if its a D school does that mean that the district does not hire qualified teachers? Does the D rating mean that our children just do not get the material? I graduated from Lely and I am still an upstanding citizen of the United States I do not break laws I pay my taxes and I work full time on the education that they provided for me. For the people that want the "private" school on Marco, fine do it... just do not cost us more money to do it. We are getting screwed in the long run with enough of the council budget issues. As for freedom of speech.. going to any school is not fun for the kids, doing the extra circuliar activites is what makes the memories that all high schoolers carry for the rest of their lifes, take away the memories that they make and we will end up with more teens looking for fun around the island and knowing some of the kids it will more than likely be a nuisance for the community. Just my two cents into the debate.

kpeace2241 writes:

Freedom of speech... sorry that comment was ment for fossil not you...

MrBreeze writes:

Keep to the Deltona Deed Restrictions and have MICA block it from moving forward.

ed34145 writes:

Additional tax dollars should NOT go to this. We pay enough in school taxes as it is....check your tax bill to see how much you are already paying....it is almost 50% of your tax bill.

personone writes:

Selfish. Lely High School sucks. You don't learn a thing at that school. That's the problem with marco there are so many old retired people there who don't care about the kids. Half the people there drive all the way barron, naples, or even gulfcoast because Lely is such a horrible school. Having a school on the island would be a huge help, if they made it a good one. For the kids at least.

Smeg writes:

Mackel High has a huge advantage over other locations. The day care facilites are already in place. Saul Alinsky and company would be proud.

We can afford to duplicate other services so a high school that we control ourselves is a great idea.

Byron might consider a vocational high school after filling in the pond. Proper training of the local NWO children to perform menial tasks is an advantage. Another would be a first-aid course on how to treat animal bites, animal toe nail grooming, eviction and eradication of domestic species etc.
Less wear and tear on the Jolly old bridge, job creation, geesh the advantages are endless.

mhs513 writes:

Do these elitests really think the people of Marco will let them build their high school at Mackle Park? If they have all the money to build and redevelop why don't they buy their own land and build? I'm sure the selfish people of Marco will still let them utilize the facilities at Mackle Park.

getreal239 writes:

These people think it's their right to take public land away from the public to protect Susie and Johnny from who knows what at Lely. But we all know that Susie and Johnny are better than the students at Lely, right? They deserve their own school!!!

Ma and Pa, ever heard of home schooling? You'll get to control everything then.

Thousands of Marco Island students have been successfully educated at Lely High School. They enjoyed a normal, well rounded, high school experience. You can see one of them regularly on national tv. She is a cheerleader for the University of Miami. Somehow this beautiful, petite blond survived Lely High School!

You people want a school? Great! Pay for it with your own money. That's how private schools are started, not with taxpayer dollars, on taxpayer supported land!

City officials need to remember who they work for, and it's not the high school group. It's the thousands of us who pay you.

freedomofspeech1 writes:

in response to personone:

Selfish. Lely High School sucks. You don't learn a thing at that school. That's the problem with marco there are so many old retired people there who don't care about the kids. Half the people there drive all the way barron, naples, or even gulfcoast because Lely is such a horrible school. Having a school on the island would be a huge help, if they made it a good one. For the kids at least.

Personone who are you to judge Lely High School??
Did you attend the school??
Literally hundreds of students including a majority of the Marco students attend and have attended that school and most move on to attend some of the best universities in the country!
I will not go into details because I dont feel this is about bashing the other schools in Naples, but Lely by FAR has the least amount of incidents in the county. Go to a Lely football game and what do you see??? Marco Island!! Marco Island comes out in huge numbers to support THEIR school. Attend some of the athletic events and what will you see?? Marco student athletes participating in great numbers!
Look at the Marco Eagle and what do you see?
Roger Lalonde covering a Lely sporting event in which a MARCO student athlete is EXCELLING!
If you live on Marco then Lely is your school....GET OVER IT!
When was the last time MarcoNews covered a Marco student that attended Barron, Naples or Gulf Coast???
Not going to happen because most of the kids that go there and live on Marco keep it quiet. Are these kids ashamed of what they are doing?
You draw your own conclusions...I have mine!

suesea writes:

I am dismayed by this proposal. Mackle Park is a beautiful park, enjoyed by all ages and cultures. It is a lovely place to walk and very relaxing. It is a desecration to put in all these buildings. And if it does go ahead, how long will it be before additional buildings are "grandfathered" in, and the Mackle Park that we know and enjoy, is no more!

We are a small island and it is not reasonable to think we need our own High School. What kind of experience of life will children have, if they don't go over the Jolley Bridge until they go to college!

We must fight for our public park to remain, and I strongly urge the council to reject this issue.

ld2009 writes:

For the people that oppose this idea. these were the same comments being made about the attemps to create the charter middle school ( A BUNCH OF ELITISTS WHOS KIDS ARE TO GOOD FOR MANATEE MIDDLE SCHOOL ) since then the tests scores for Marco kids have gone from near the bottom to top in the county. Manatee middle still ranks at or near the bottom. Lely brags that they have taken thier grade fom a F to a C. I wouldnt brag about my kids doing that why would I about thier school? a good education is the least we can do for our kids. 12 million at veterans park or the brige that nobody wanted? We need to look at our priorities.

u2cane writes:

personone writes:
Selfish. Lely High School sucks. You don't learn a thing at that school. That's the problem with marco there are so many old retired people there who don't care about the kids. Half the people there drive all the way barron, naples, or even gulfcoast because Lely is such a horrible school. Having a school on the island would be a huge help, if they made it a good one. For the kids at least.

Yes, that is why they have students that will be attending Ivy league schools, cause they suck? Get real. These parents that want this school on Marco can do it, just home school your child. What is the difference between that and your proposed high school? Oh I guess you would have to pay for the materials.

u2cane writes:

ld2009 writes:
For the people that oppose this idea. these were the same comments being made about the attemps to create the charter middle school ( A BUNCH OF ELITISTS WHOS KIDS ARE TO GOOD FOR MANATEE MIDDLE SCHOOL ) since then the tests scores for Marco kids have gone from near the bottom to top in the county. Manatee middle still ranks at or near the bottom. Lely brags that they have taken thier grade fom a F to a C. I wouldnt brag about my kids doing that why would I about thier school? a good education is the least we can do for our kids. 12 million at veterans park or the brige that nobody wanted? We need to look at our priorities.

I wouldn't brag about my spelling. Maybe your kids do need this school, or maybe you do. Guess you still don't understand that the grade of the school means nothing about the kind of education someone can get from that school. The state uses it, not the colleges. Colleges don't even see the grade a school gets. Maybe we need this school to educate some of the adults on this island that act, spell, and whine like little children.

kosherdeli writes:

in response to marcoislandres:

I hope the high school wont interfere with the dog park

Hopefully the High School we be Wheelchair Accessible not like the Dog Park, that Discriminates Against the Physical Challenged. Both the City and the Residents who were behind creating the Dog Park should be ashamed of themselves.
Are you Residents who were behind building the Dog Park prepared to open your wallets and contribute your money, to help pay for legal fees once the ADA gets involved with this matter?
I think not!

amarcomom writes:

I graduated from a high school that had less than 400 kids in the school. I had 72 in my graduating class. We did not have a football team but the two guys that wanted to play were allowed to play for the neighboring town's team. Our high school didn't have all of the sports that some have but it made up for it with the technology classes, restaurant development classes, small classroom sizes and support from the community. Our basketball team even won the state championship 2 out of 4 years. The people that graduated from that school, that grew up in that town, continued to support the town well after graduation. They weren't "sheltered" but rather blessed to have a community that cared. I think that it is very unfortunate that many people only think about their taxes being raised instead of a state of the art educational facility for the children of their community. They are our future and to be able to give them this opportunity is amazing.

getreal239 writes:

amarcomom - who cares about your high school experience? How do we know if you're a credible, upstanding person? Maybe your sheltered high school experience made you close minded, and unable to get along with others. Your schooling history is not relevent to this conversation, period

marco97 writes:

getreal239, I guess they did not teach manners where you went to school.

getreal239 writes:

You guess wrong, marco97. amarcomom needs to show good blogging manners by staying on topic.

dwbadger writes:

When you move to a community you evaluate the location, city, parks, opportunities and schools. You intelligently make a decision regarding all of the factors. I commuted one and a half hours so my children could live in a community that met all of the factors that I thought were important.

People that do not like Lely High School can relocate to an area where the schools meet there specific requirements. It is not up to the public to build a private high school. That is what this would be. Marco Island does not need a high school. Why is there a belief that a Marco Island high school would provide a "better" education? That is a large leap of faith. How many additional tax dollars will be required to support this in the future if the scholl falls short? I believe it is time to move on from this issue. I believe the majority of those that own property on Marco Island do not want a high school. Put the issue on a referendum and see what the results are.

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