For those of you who were unable to attend the 7 hour Collier County School Board meeting on Tues. September 8th, I urge you read the following proposal I made on behalf of Marco Island Academy regarding Tract K. This option is the result of years of research, expert legal advice, and the desire to find a solution to benefit the entire Marco Island community. Please know that at all times, my focus remains on the best possible interest of the students in our community. Right now, I am asking for your help and your support to make sure the Collier County School Board fulfills Deltona’s original intent to provide land for K-12 education on our island.
Dear Members of the Board,
My name is Jane Watt and I am the Founder and Chair of Marco Island Academy, a public charter high school where I have served for the past 6 years. The purpose of speaking to you today is to offer a mutually beneficial solution to the Tract K issue. Although the issue seems complicated, it is really quite simple. We are on the same team, we share a similar mission and we all want what is best for students. The original intent of Tract K was to provide land for a school. Deltona, the developer of Marco Island, gave Tract K to the Collier County School district in good faith to hold until the property was needed for a school.
Not only was the land given to the district for a school, but also according to F.S. 1002.33 (18) (e) law states that if a district school board facility or property is available because it is surplus, marked for disposal, or otherwise unused, it shall be provided for a charter school’s use on the same basis as it is made available to other public schools in the district. Tommie Barfield Elementary and Marco Island Charter Middle School are located on land that was provided by Deltona. In contrast, Marco Island Academy currently leases 5.8 acres of privately owned land on San Marco Rd. for $54,000 per year and the cost of the lease continues to increase each year. The school needs land for a permanent facility, and since Deltona provided Tract K for a school site, MIA requested Tract K. If the District prefers not to honor MIA’s request for Tract K and to sell the property instead, then MIA has another option.
In an effort to find a solution that would benefit everyone on our team including the district, community, and the students, MIA proposes the following:
MIA agrees to withdraw its request for Tract K, if the district agrees to purchase MIA’s current San Marco Property. The appraised value of the San Marco property is $3.1 million and is projected to continue to increase in value. The option to purchase is $1.8 million. If the district accepts this proposal everyone can benefit and here is how:
- The district and the taxpayers of Collier County will replace one asset (Tract K) on their balance sheet, with another piece of Marco property that is valued at $1.3 million dollars above the purchase price. Not only is this deal a great investment, but also appropriate use of the monies. Ultimately, the district upholds Deltona’s original intent to provide land for a school.
- The Tract K neighbors/Eagle group are happy because they maintain a passive park in their neighborhood instead of a school.
- Ultimately, the students benefit because Marco Island Academy gets land for a permanent facility.
MIA respectfully requests that the Collier County School Board consider this mutually beneficial proposal. We are part of the Collier County School District. We are all part of the same team. Our students are your students. Your decision will affect these students not only today, but for generations to come.
At the end of the meeting, the Collier County School Board voted to accept a Lease Purchase Agreement for Tract K to the Marco Eagle Sanctuary with the caveat that they would also discuss a feasibility study regarding the purchase of the San Marco property where MIA is currently located.
The students at MIA are an integral part of our community and need a permanent home on Marco Island. We have a unique opportunity to unite for a common cause that will ultimately benefit the students in our community for generations to come.
One of my favorite quotes comes from someone who knew how to conquer adversity. “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” ~Helen Keller. Thank you in advance for your support!