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School board criticizes graduation parking at Harborside

School board criticizes graduation parking at Harborside

By Matt Grant. CREATED Jun 5, 2012

FORT MYERS - The Lee County School board criticized Fort Myers for making parents pay to park to see their kids graduate.

Two weeks ago we first told you how parents were charged $6 and $8 to park at Harborside Event Center in downtown Fort Myers to see their own kid's graduation - when in the past, parking had always been free.

Even handicapped spots close to the venue came at a premium.

The graduations took place on a Saturday and Sunday, when parking at meters is normally free.

"I heard circumstances of a couple people that came, they didn't have any money, they had to go to the bank and get money so they could park," board member Jeanne Dozier said at Tuesday's board meeting. "And that's not an expectation that they have. So I think we need to look into this."

Last month, board member Don Armstrong said he never wanted to do business with Harborside or the city of Fort Myers again.

The city, which got a cut of the money, says the district's contract never specified parking had to be free like it does at Germain Arena.

"We are looking at some other options," said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke. "And we are talking with other venues about some things we might be able to do."

The board discussed possibly doing away with Saturday graduations in downtown Fort Myers in the future due to parking issues.

They stopped short of saying Harborside won't be used again for future graduations.

Matt Grant