Staff Writer

PORT CHARLOTTE — Employees from the Charlotte County Public Schools District Office took on a different kind of job Saturday morning, and it involved getting dirty.

At 8 a.m. Saturday outside the district office, the superintendent and members of the school board were pushing around wheelbarrows and laying out mulch.

It was the final day of their project of cleaning up the district office, which included a day of pulling weeds and clearing out the garden beds, laying out cardboard and newspaper so weeds couldn’t get through, and finally, they were ready to begin planting.

Along with Keep Charlotte Beautiful and volunteers from Master Gardeners of Charlotte County, district employees helped plant native Florida plants.

The design was set up by Tom Becker, University of Florida extension agent. He said the first thing he wanted to do was open up the space to allow more sunlight.

“We decided to go all native, Florida friendly plants,” he said, “Everything in here is drought tolerant, no existing irrigation was working, we wanted them to be water-free, watered by rain only, and nothing requires pruning.”

School board member Kim Amontree spearheaded the project, after she assisted executive director of Keep Charlotte Beautiful Rhonda Harvey, with a beautification project at Port Charlotte Middle School.

At the time, Harvey was working on several beautification projects at the schools, and Amontree asked if she could help at the district office.

Amontree sent out an email to staff in the district office asking for volunteers. It didn’t take much coaxing to get people to come out and help.

“When leadership shows the example, people are willing to come out,” she said of Superintendent Dionisio’s willingness to participate.

Cheryl Edwards, the executive director of learning, school board member Cara Reynolds, vice chair of the board Wendy Atkinson, and secretary to the board Theresa Dow, were also on hand to help.

“It’s awesome, it looks good and it’s going to be more welcoming for people coming into the district office,” Dionisio said. “Anytime you can partner with an outside organization it’s a good thing.”

He added the project was an opportunity for staff and volunteers to do something fun, help the community, and see each other in a different way.

“It was a great project Mrs. Amontree spear-headed. Everyone has really showed up,” he said.



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