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Parents keep voicing concern over change to Cape High’s IB program

By Staff | Aug 12, 2009

Concerned Cape Coral citizens attended a second meeting of the Lee County School Board Tuesday night to insist the coordinator position at Cape Coral High School’s International Baccalaureate program be reinstated as full time.
For the 2009-10 school year, the district transformed the coordinator position into a part-time one that also serves as athletic director, a decision that is alarming parents who said the other IB programs, at Riverdale High and Fort Myers High, have one full-time coordinator.
An International Baccalaureate program prepares students for world-class universities and connects them with thousands of students in 138 countries across the world.
Lee County’s first IB program at Fort Myers High has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 100 high schools in the United States.
Last month, members of the board told the parents to be patient and see how the dual position affects academic progress.
Harry and Tammy Cousin, Cape residents lobbying to bring back the full-time position, addressed the board Tuesday.
“We are asking for a full-time IB coordinator, because a part-time one can’t be as effective as a full-time one,” said Harry Cousin. “As, if you claim, this job can be done part-time, why do other IB schools waste money on a full-time coordinator or athletic director?”
Tammy Cousin said she was disappointed at the board’s reaction at the last meeting when parents from the school discussed the issue.
“With all due respect, I don’t know if you heard what we were saying, we were just telling you that we are concerned she’ll be just a part-time coordinator,” said Cousin, who wanted to dispel any notions that objecting to the change was over any discontent with the new coordinator, Savannah Gindele.
“We feel like we are being discriminated against and question what the underlying agenda must be,” she said.
Chairman Jane Kuckel explained to the Cousins that the district makes all of its decisions based on data collected on a number of factors including student performance.
Any decision on the IB programs will have to be based on data, she said.
“The way we make those decisions are by finding out what works and doesn’t work,” said Kuckel. “Our task, and the task we have given Dr. Browder, is to identify those and take each one, look at it and see things that make the difference in our IB program.”
Superintendent James Browder said other coordinators in Lee County take on various duties throughout the school year, and he reiterated that the founder of the original Fort Myers High IB program, Rosie Browning, taught four periods of classes and served as IB coordinator at the same time.
Browder added that he supports the district’s decision to alter the position at Cape Coral High.
“The IB program at Cape Coral High will exceed everyone’s expectations under the leadership of Eric McFee and Miss Gindele,” he said. “The reason the program is what it is, is about the teachers, counselors and everyone working as a team.”
Board member Robert Chilmonik said the district should consider returning to a full-time coordinator because, even though the school system is data driven, each of the IB schools are entitled to equal programs.
“Rigorous academics are the key to success in our district, that’s why it is so important to support the IB program,” he said.
Chilmonik also asked Browder to reconsider the decision to cut the position in half.