Changes to Cape High’s IB program questioned
Parents of Cape Coral High School students and teachers addressed the Lee County School Board Wednesday night over what they perceive as inequalities in the school’s International Baccalaureate program.
According to Tammy Cousin, a member of the Student Advisory Committee at Cape High, parents are concerned about the recent replacement of the school’s veteran IB coordinator, elimination of its receptionist position and a reorganization of the program’s office.
Savannah Gindele, who is assuming the IB coordinator position, is splitting her time as the school’s athletic director, leaving parents worried that not having a full-time coordinator will negatively impact the prestigious program.
“We don’t see how it’s possible for one person to do both positions,” Cousin said.
An IB coordinator typically handles testing, recruits from local middle schools, aids students and carries out typical classroom duties.
Members of the community said they are concerned about a lack of experience and time, which could result in errors that may jeopardize student diplomas or the program as a whole.
Lee County has three IB schools — Cape Coral High, Riverdale High and Fort Myers High — and each of the schools have had one full-time coordinator, Cousin said.
There are currently 385 students enrolled in Cape High’s IB program.
Fort Myers High has continually been named one of the top 100 schools in the nation for its IB program in the U.S. News and World Report.
The two other schools have been attempting to emulate that success since they started approximately five years ago.
The school board did not have immediate answers for those who attended Wednesday’s meeting.
Superintendent James Browder, who served as principal of Fort Myers High when the IB program was in its early days, said administrators in 1992 had to develop the IB program without as much support as he would have liked.
“We started the Cape Coral High and Riverdale programs with way more support than we had at Fort Myers,” he said. “In five years you will see huge gains out of that program.”
Cape High Principal Eric McFee said former leadership at the school held back IB performance, but the school is looking to move forward and bring its program up to par with Fort Myers High.
“I want everyone to understand the positive direction that Cape Coral High School is going to,” he said. “Savannah is going to balance two jobs and is going to do a great job at it.”
School Board Member Robert Chilmonik said he received numerous calls from concerned parents about the staffing of the IB program.
“You want an equal program that all of the other schools have, that is perfectly acceptable and reasonable request,” he said. “The driver of academic excellence is these types of programs, we have to not only embrace these programs but fully support them.”
The board did not take immediate action on the issue, but School Board Member Jeanne Dozier told the community to be patient.
“If you will take a deep breath and will allow the process to move forward, I think you will be extremely satisfied by the fact you will be impressed by Miss Gindele,” she said.
Cousin said after the meeting that she is not satisfied with the school board’s response.
She said the issue is not about who was chosen for the coordinator position, but that the coordinator will not devote all of their time to improving the IB program.
“I don’t think they hear what we were saying,” Cousin said.