How Lee County Schools Operate

The Lee County School District is unique to most other public school systems in the U.S. and even other parts of Florida. Here, parents have a choice as to which school their child attends, which is really nice but can also be confusing for those unfamiliar with the process.

So, I figured I’d take some time to explain the school system in more detail, with info that is important to parents and guardians looking to relocate their family here full-time.

Keep in mind that most of the info below pertains to Lee County Public Schools. There are also a number of fantastic private and charter schools to choose from in Lee County.

Schools in Lee County:
14 – Public High Schools
20 – Public Middle Schools*
49 – Public Elementary Schools*
*With some overlap for combination schools (K-8)

School Year:
First Day of School – August 10, 2017
Last Day of School – May 30, 2018

Daily Bell Times:
7:05am – 1:35pm – High School
9:45am – 4:00pm – Middle School
7:55am – 2:10pm or 8:55am – 3:10pm – Elementary School
7:55am – 2:10pm – Combination Schools (K-8)

Student Enrollment (2016/2017 School Year):
1,833 – Pre-K Students
42,278 – Elementary School Students
20,552 – Middle School Students
27,927 – High School Students

Schools on Sanibel Island

As you might already know, there is only one school on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, and that’s the Sanibel School, which serves Kindergarten through 8th Grade. All of the McCallion kids attended the Sanibel School, which is a National Blue Ribbon Award winning school, ranked one of the highest in the nation!

Sanibel School

But, now that we have three out of four kids off-island attending high school, we’ve become masters of car pooling! There are a good number of full-time families living on Sanibel that work together to shuffle the kids back and forth.

There are also school buses that come over the Causeway every morning and afternoon, which works perfectly if your kids are not involved in after-school activities.

How Does the School Assignment Work?

As explained in the Lee County School District – “Plan For Student Assignment”:

Families enrolling in Lee County for the first time will find that school assignment is not structured by a boundary drawn around a school like most other school districts. The Plan divides the District into three Choice Zones, which is further divided into three sub-zones.


It’s important to note that the barrier islands (Sanibel Island, Estero Island, and Pine Island), are NOT considered as a part of a choice zone, and students that reside in these areas do not participate in the choice program due to the inability to offer efficient transportation.

However, students may apply for zone and multi-zone attractor program schools, and/or parents can choose to send students to a private school off-island as well.

More information on the school assignment process can be found on the Lee County School District website here.


Jim and I moved our family here in 2008, partly because of the stellar school system. Click here to read why we love the Sanibel School.

So far, we’ve had a pretty good experience with the Lee County School District. We’ve found that each one of our kid’s learning-styles are different, so it’s important to find the school that works best for them!

I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about schools here, and would love to share my experiences with you! Don’t hesitate to reach out, 239-472-1950 or

Susan McCallion About Susan McCallion

Meet "Your Favorite Redhead." Susan was exposed to real estate while young with her parent's 8 Re/MAX offices in Connecticut! In 2008, Susan and Jim became permanent Sanibel residents, starting McCallion & McCallion to bring a fresh approach to real estate.