New Lee County Superintendent ready for challenges in first year

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LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Students have less than a week to enjoy the rest of their summer break, but in Lee County there’s a new face leading the massive district.

Dr. Christopher Bernier was sworn in back in May.

NBC2’s Lisa Spooner had the chance to sit down with him to discuss his hopes for the upcoming school year.

Although it might be his first full school year in Southwest Florida, he has more than three decades in education.

“We think it’s 37. 33 In Orlando, 3 in Las Vegas, and this makes the additional opening,” said Dr. Bernier.

Dr. Bernier knows ahead of his first year leading the Lee County School District there are going to be some challenges.

He explained, “There’s a lot of goals long-term. But immediately with the school year opening I think the most important thing is for us to realize how important and lucky we are to have the talent that we have.”

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He recognizes the teacher and bus driver vacancies just one week ahead of the start of the year are significant issues.

“School districts are going to have to continue to get creative to find the people we need,” he said. But he also says there’s a new challenge when it comes to students and their parents.

“The last two years across this nation parents have found themselves on the outside of the schoolhouse door. They really need to be welcomed back into the fold,” said Dr. Bernier.

And he wants parents to hear this message: “I think the best advice for parents is get engaged with your children again the way it used to be 2 years ago. We changed the face of education in order to try and protect and create some safety for our children and for our teachers. We are now in a situation where we can be reopened. So engage. Become a part of your child’s school. Become a part of your child’s classroom.”

Dr. Bernier added that the bus driver shortage is a major issue the school district is facing next week. However, he says they just announced Tuesday night that they are bumping up the wage increase to $15/ hour ahead of the October deadline. And adds that since they did that, they’ve already had more people apply. He asks that parents be patient with them as they navigate the first few weeks.

Tags: Dr. Christopher BernierLee CountyLee County School DistrictSouthwest Florida

 

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