The governing board of the Goodwill LIFE Academy, a charter school in Fort Myers serving more than fifty students with intellectual disabilities, made an abrupt and unanimous vote by to close last week. Citing declining revenue from Goodwill stores and a $250,000 annual budget shortfall, the closure will be effective by the start of the next school year.
The school was considered by many parents as an oasis for their children, and attuned to their unique education needs. The Lee County School District will now place those students into other schools and existing ESE programs throughout the district.
Some parents started online fundraising efforts to collect the quarter of a million dollars the school would need to stay open another year. After a week, the GoFundMe.com effort had collected just $100.
Carolyn Johnson, the vice president of communications for Goodwill of Southwest Florida, joins Gulf Coast Live to explain how the charter school came about, its 12 years of operation in Lee County, and what was behind the decision to ultimately close the charter school.
Also joining the program is Dr. J.F. “Jeff” McCullers, the public charter liaison for the Lee County School District, to explain how the county deals with a closing charter school, and the options available to parents, children, and staff from the school.