A Marco Island charter high school may end up back at its most controversial roots -- Lely High School -- if several city and school officials have their way.
Marco Island’s proposed charter high school was on-again, off-again and on-again as the Marco Island City Council placed it on Monday night’s agenda, took it off and then proceeded to talk about it anyway.
The discussions and debate about support for the proposed school, dubbed Marco Island Academy, have often centered around the proposed location for the school.
“There seems to be a conflict as to where to put the charter school. I was hoping to get ideas here tonight,” said Collier County School Board incumbent candidate Roy Terry.
Terry was somewhat disappointed it wasn’t formally discussed, he said, because although the location is not a necessity to approve or to consider the charter application filed with the District, it would be nice to know where it would be.
The School Board is to consider the Academy and two other charter applications, one for a Silva Learning Academy with a location not yet set and one for a charter high school near Ave Maria University at a meeting scheduled for 3:30 p.m Oct. 21 at Immokalee High School.
Two proposals were broached to place the Marco Island Academy in Naples, including one to build the school on acres of property at 301 Tower Road, which is more centrally located than other previous on-island proposals and is the current location of Comcast, Terry said.
City Councilman Wayne Waldack said he is vying for more discussions between the charter school proponents and school board members about starting the school at Lely High School.
There have been several locations considered previously and all that were announced publicly were on-island, including Mackle Park, the Marco Island YMCA, New Life Community Church on Elkcam Circle and Tract K, which is a piece of property deeded to the Collier County School District by the island developers, Deltona Corp., at a cost of about $10. Those locations did not pan out thus far for various reasons.
Another location that Waldack has discussed with incumbent candidate Pat Carroll and Kathleen Curatulo is at Lely High School, Waldack said.
The initial backlash to the proposed charter high school about two years ago came when students, school officials, parents and other residents said they felt the charter school would hurt Lely and an island school was based on racism and elitism.
Those concerns began to dwindle and Waldack called housing the school at Lely a “win-win.”
Terry said he had envisioned more of a magnet school at Lely with either a humanities and social studies focus or a math and science focus.
The curriculum for the Marco Island Academy, which has been developed by the nonprofit Marco Island Discovery Center board led by Marco resident and parent Jane Watt, is to have a marine biology focus.
Since the issue was not on the council agenda, no vote was taken Monday. However, council has showed support for the school when it was to be located at the Marco YMCA and when it was once considered for Mackle Park.
Watt, president of the Marco Island Discovery Center, could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday night.
■ Tabled numerous proposed fee increases until November requesting more justification for the need to increase the fees in a 4-3 vote with Councilmen Waldack, Bill Trotter and Larry Magel dissenting.
■ Unanimously, 7-0, approved a resolution opposing Amendment 4, which is also called the Hometown Democracy amendment and will be considered by all Florida voters in the Nov. 2 general election. Two public speakers, one of each position, spoke on Amendment 4, which will require all amendments to a city or county’s land development code to go to referendum. Marco Island Taxpayers’ Association President Fay Biles said MITA supports it; Shirley English, executive director of the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors said the Association opposes the amendment.