Like many government entities across Florida, the Lee County School Board is caught in the crosshairs of declining revenues and the need to maintain or even improve core services, in this case, a quality education for Lee County students.
Our children can't wait for an improved economy, for a return to "normalcy" or any of the other hunker-down-and-weather-the-storm bureaucratic approaches that might work for counties or cities. The school district must - must - continue its forward motion, a tough challenge in the best of times.
It is for this reason that we endorse Arnold Gibbs in District 1.
A career law enforcement professional who previously served as police chief in Cape Coral, Mr. Gibbs brings a background that includes a solid knowledge of how government works, including budgeting parameters. He also has served on state-level councils and committees and so has knowledge of how things work on the policymaking side of the equation as well.
These attributes will help mitigate the inevitable learning curve that goes with a new position and this is key in a race to fill the seat vacated by a knowledgeable incumbent, Bob Chilmonik, who served constituents well.
His law enforcement background also gives Mr. Gibbs an interesting perspective on a district weakness, the one weakness that has seen minimal improvement even as other challenges have seen incremental progress.
Mr. Gibbs has already submitted a plan to address the needs of minority and low-income students who, as group, are, perhaps, the district's greatest educational challenge.
That's good to see and it's an area where the district is in much need of improvement.
He also vows to ask the tough questions. We'll take him at his word as we have found in past dealings with Mr. Gibbs - then Chief Gibbs - that he has no problem expressing his views.
This is important, too.
We endorse Arnold Gibbs in the school board race for District 1. We believe he can quickly come up to speed and we do believe he will prioritize the classroom and our children, remembering those who are sometimes forgotten.
This is a countywide, nonpartisan race, meaning all registered voters can vote regardless of party affiliation or where they live in Lee County.
Also running: Mary Fischer and John E. Traube