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MARCO ISLAND — When it comes to an on-Island public high school, the Marco Island Charter Middle School board heard it just won’t happen during their meeting Wednesday evening.
Lely High School Principal Ken Fairbanks shared the opportunities Lely offers in academics and extra curricular activities, saying anything a student or parent could want from a high school is offered at Lely.
Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandi Reidemann reminded the board that Fairbanks was a 2008 winner of the Students Choice Support Staff of the Year award.
“If Marco parents get a little more involved instead of constantly complaining, I think they’re sending their kids to a great school,” Charter School board member Tarik Ayusan said of Lely.
Jennifer Tenney, also a MICMS board member, agreed, saying that as a graduate of Lely High School she would defend it to her dying days for all the school offered her. She said she didn’t think a small high school could offer the diverse extra curricular activities Lely offers.
Collier County School District Chief Operations Officer Michele LaBute confirmed the breadth of curriculum available at Lely, which has about 1,400 students, could not be offered at an Island high school of likely about 325 Island students.
While many schools in the district are dropping in enrollment, Lely is close to maintaining student numbers with a relatively low drop of 2 percent from 2008, Fairbanks said.
LaBute said a public high school on Marco cannot happen, but she didn’t completely nix the idea of a charter high school, which is open to the public but is operated by a contractor for the School District.
“A charter school is an entirely different issue,” LaBute said, adding that she wasn’t an expert on charter schools.
Collier County School District Assistant Superintendent Cynthia Jansen is well-informed on charter schools, LaBute said.
Jansen wasn’t immediately available to comment.