From the beginning, settlers in Southwest Florida recognized a need for education. Young men and women motivated to educate the community's children took on the role of teaching children in town halls and churches. As the community grew, so did our history. The following table outlines the district's growth over the last 127 years.
Classes outgrow the community hall and the first building is designated as a school at the corner of Marion & Harvey Streets in Punta Gorda.
The first school for African Americans is formed. After an organized search, Benjamin Joshua Baker agrees to be its principal and relocates from New Orleans. Mr. Baker retired in 1940 after 49 years of teaching and died in 1942 while a new school for the African American Community (Baker Center) was constructed. The school remained segregated until 1964 when Charlotte County Schools were integrated.
A larger school is built on Goldstein Street. The school was filled to capacity with an enrollment of 91 males and 87 females.
Punta Gorda Grammar & High School opens with an enrollment of 150 students. Overcrowding forced construction of a new school on Taylor Street in 1911.
Charlotte County's modern era begins when DeSoto County is divided into 5 parts. The first bridge across Charlotte Harbor is constructed and schools begin bussing students from rural communities to the Junior High in Port Charlotte and combined schools in Punta Gorda. Six busses operated on a budget of $30.00 per semester, per student.
Bussing increased Punta Gorda enrollment to 1,000 and forced construction of Charlotte High School. Charlotte County teacher salaries were reported as the highest in the State of Florida at $615.00 for teachers in a two room school to $933.00 in schools with 10 or more rooms.
As the Great Depression made its way into Charlotte County, the school year was reduced to 7 months and teachers often received promissory notes for items like food and clothing from local merchants.
Sallie Jones, one of the original 21 teachers assigned to Charlotte High School, is appointed the first female superintendent of schools in the State of Florida. Ms. Jones served 16 years as superintendent. She created the first school lunchrooms and set the standard that all teachers had to be professionally certified. Ms. Jones retired in 1953 after 31 years as an educator.
Two large residential developers (General Development Corporation and Punta Gorda Isles Development Corporation) spur Southwest Florida growth and force the expansion of the district. New schools are built in rapid succession as can be seen below.
Adult & Community Education
Peace River Elementary School
Charlotte High School, K-9
Lemon Bay High School
East Elementary School
Baker Elementary Center
Neil Armstrong Elementary
Port Charlotte Middle School
Punta Gorda Middle School
Meadow Park Elementary
Charlotte Harbor Center
Charlotte Technical College
Charlotte High School, 10 & 12 Grades
Port Charlotte High School
L.A. Ainger Middle School
Liberty Elementary School
Vineland Elementary School
Murdock Middle School
Deep Creek Elementary School
Myakka River Elementary
Kingsway Elementary School
Sallie Jones Elementary School
Hurricane Charley destroys six CCPS schools on August 13, including Baker Center, Peace River Elementary, Neil Armstrong Elementary, East Elementary, Punta Gorda Middle, and Charlotte High.
New rebuilt Baker Center opens in August.
New rebuilt Neil Armstrong Elementary Opens in October.
New rebuilt Peace River Elementary opens in January.
New rebuilt East Elementary opens in November.
New rebuilt Punta Gorda Middle Schools opens in August.
New rebuilt Charlotte high School (3-story building) opens in April.
Charlotte High School Buildings B and C, and the Auxillary Gym opens in August.
Charlotte High School Buildings G & F (Media Center/ScienceLabs/Tech Labs/Art Classrooms) Opened in August.
Received Federal Stimulus Funds through the American Recovery Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) for the rebuilding of Meadow Park Elementary School and Lemon Bay High School.
New rebuilt Meadow Park Elementary School opens in August.
New rebuilt Lemon Bay High School Gymnasium opens in August.
New rebuilt Lemon Bay High School Three-Story opens in January.
New rebuilt Punta Gorda Center M&O opens in September.
New rebuilt Lemon Bay High School Champs Café opens in December
New rebuilt Lemon Bay High School Administration & Media Center opens in May.
The Covid-19 pandemic closes schools after spring break and forces students and teachers to online learning for the rest of the school year. Charlotte County faces its most challenging fall start of school yet having to contend with a large number of virus prevention measures.