Thank You … and Goodbye

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That said, why not drive on down to the Georgia International Fairgrounds & AgriCenter for your next family field trip? Plan to stop at Twin Oaks RV Park in Elko, at Exit 127 just south of Perry or just come camp at Twin Oaks for a summer ‘Stay-cation’ near the Georgia International Fairgrounds and the ‘Go Fish’ Georgia Education Center!

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About dekalbschoolwatch

Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
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164 Responses to Thank You … and Goodbye

  1. Be sure to turn on your computer’s sound when you read the Fernbank Science Center flyer! You’ll want to hear the applause for Crawford Lewis, Ramona Tyson, Cheryl Atkinson, and the DCSS Board of Education for all they have done for Fernbank Science Center and science education in DeKalb County.

  2. dekalbschoolwatch-
    I disconnected from the real world for approximately 36 hours- which ended with my attendance at a memorial service today-Obviously I have missed something very important??? Can you please fill in the blank?

  3. The Deal says:

    While I was a fan of getting rid of the bloat, I was not a fan of any cuts without knowing how those cuts were going to be implemented, primarily because I do not trust our administration to implement those cuts in a logical, fair, and reasonable manner. Obviously the district chose an extremely lazy way to implement the FSC cuts if the center is truly being shuttered after having been asked to cut 1/3 of its budget. There is obviously no plan to funnel these savings into better science education for all. Just when I think I’ve seen it all…

  4. Miss Management says:

    I’m confused. Weren’t they losing the forest due to the end of the lease? I thought that part was already done – not part of the budget cuts.. Plus. Aren’t they supposed to interview for the jobs that will remain at the center? Their whole budget was not cut. Why the sudden shut down?

  5. howdy1942 says:

    I would have liked to see more cuts in the upper administration position – that’s where the big dollars are! Do we still have in place those top administrators that Dr. Atkinson replaced with her own team? What about all those curriculum advisers? What about all the support staff?

    Just wondering.

  6. Yes, thanks to Crawford Lewis, Ramona Tyson, Cheryl Atkinson and the DCSS Board of Education, Fernbank Forest is forever lost — even though Crawford Lewis had a 6-year heads up. The last day of the lease for Fernbank Forest is tomorrow, Saturday, June 30. It will be the last day that Fernbank Forest is open to the public at no charge. Beginning July 1, the cost to see Fernbank Forest will rise from FREE to the cost level for Fernbank Museum. For a look at the future, go take a look at the price page for Fernbank Museum of Natural History Not affordable for my family — not in today’s economy — how about yours?

  7. DCSS Teacher says:

    All the employees of FSC were terminated on Thursday and “invited” to reapply for their jobs–which have not been posted. Be sure to attend the “Goodbye” programs today, and at the least force the Board to use the money saved to improve science education in DCSD. (Yeah, right). Many comments hostile to FSC have appeared on this blog, yet it’s hard to see how firing 28 science teachers will improve things. Good luck!

  8. The Deal says:

    People here were hostile to the bloat and employment of so many non-teachers at the center. No one wanted to close the entire center, nor lose any of its programs. This problem was caused by DCSD’s inability to do anything with foresight or thoughtfulness. The implementation plan should have been to cut most of the non-teachers at FSC, create and publish a plan to set the center on a several-year course for private funding, and use the savings to improve the regular classroom experience. Unfortunately, none of that is happening, and that is 100% the fault of DCSD administration.

  9. justwatch says:

    My impression, from many people who were aware of this issue for the last decade or so, was that Fernbank Museum of Natural History has been eagerly awaiting the day they could end the lease. If that is the case, what could have happened. My understanding is that the relationship between FSC and FMNH has never been strong and in the recent past, has not been good. What could anyone done to convince FMNH not to take the forest back?
    DeKalb County Schools, even under Halford, has never held such a high position in the community, that the system could influence anything. They can’t even get DeKalb County to do road improvements necessary for new schools, unless the parents in that community rise up and demand it.
    This is a sad change, I am just not sure what anyone could have done to prevent it?

  10. justwatch says:

    This flier isn’t well done — it reads like the Center itself is closing. It isn’t. The lease with the Forest was up and Fernbank INC will now operate it through the Museum of Natural History.

  11. Sad to be Anonymous says:

    Quoting “justwatch” above:
    “My understanding is that the relationship between FSC and FMNH has never been strong and in the recent past, has not been good.”

    It has only ever been as strong as the relationship between a parent and child. The idea for Fernbank Museum of Natural History was conceived at a public reception at Fernbank Science Center. Science Center staff actively participated in the incubation of the Museum. Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s first director was a former Fernbank Science Center administrator. As has been noted previously on this blog, Fernbank Science Center staff have been housed at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This continues to be the case, as several instructors are still moving files and instructional materials out of their offices as of yesterday afternoon. Fernbank Science Center staff have taken care of the grounds of the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, mowing lawns, caring for landscaping, and even running the rose test program in the Staton Rose Garden. Fernbank Science Center instructors have taught auditorium classes for which the Fernbank Museum of Natural History charged admission. To be fair, the relationship worked for both parties. As recently as 12 years ago, Fernbank Museum of Natural History employees painted several rooms at Fernbank Science Center.

    I do not know the cause of the bad relationship. I am not a chief, just an indian. But from my perspective it has seemed Fernbank Museum of Natural History is going through a classic adolescent separation from its parents. The urge to be perceived as independent is so powerful that the adolescent child does her best to block out her memories of having relied on the parent’s nurturing, which was necessary to grow and thrive. In this case, appearing to be independent is beyond an urge, it’s a compulsion. Thus the Fernbank Museum of Natural History emphasizes in its public statements that “competing” against a “taxpayer supported” institution means it can never play on a level field until the Fernbank Science Center closes its doors to the public. You can expect to hear more of the same in the future. This is Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s way of distracting all of you, ESPECIALLY all of you DeKalb County taxpayers, that they have been a taxpayer supported institution all along.

    Just please fork over your $17.50 so you can take a walk in the forest, along trails paved by DeKalb County Schools, and look through a soil window installed by DeKalb County Schools, and rest in the shade of teaching stations that were built by DeKalb County Schools . . . this may seem expensive, but at least it isn’t taxpayer supported!

  12. Hr88 says:

    No, many posts on this blog HAVE been hostile to the science center, and sadly when the DCSD and BOE hear that message, they act on it in the simplest way possible- just slash the FSC budget and figure out later what that will mean for people and programs. The money cut from FSC , cutting excellent science teachers, is going to balance the budget, not to improve science education in the classroom. But don’t worry, we preserved middle school sports and the full HS athletics budget.

  13. PolitiMom says:

    I think the “hostility” toward FSC was more about making cuts to programs that don’t have as much ROI as they should. No one can argue that having 2 field trips a year to FSC is really a great use of $5 million. I think most wanted those teachers dispersed to the schoolhouses to create more learning opportunities, not less. Thanks to poor leadership and rediculously bad accounting we have to cut painfully. The leadership is just lazy. No one wants to go thru the budget line by line. No one wants to start from $0. Too much work! Easier to cut where Palace employees don’t feel it. All those secretaries? How did they keep their jobs?!

  14. curious says:

    I agree. Of all the things for which the administration and board can be blamed, the termination of the lease of the forest is not necessarily one of them. I think the headline of this article is misleading because it does make it sound as if the entrie FCSS is closing.

  15. Miss Management says:

    That’s ridiculous. The powers that be do not read this blog and certainly do not make decisions based on the comments posted on this blog or the AJC blog or any other blog. And no one wants science teachers cut, but people were quite concerned about the spending for the extra staff: designers, photographers, etc as well as the free door to door transportation for the 90 lucky STT students each semester. “Designers” could have been cut as easily as media clerks or interpreters. The special transportation could have been cut and saved the system as much as this cut to FSC. A majority on the board (5-4) voted to save transportation over teachers.

  16. Gregory Walker says:

    i kind of agree with politimom – we’re all treating the science center with some kind of sacrosanct reverence, but isn’t it open to the same kinds of criticism that we’re all (rightly) leveling at the central office? i mean, 5 exhibit designers on staff? why? i haven’t seen an exhibit rotate there in the 13 years my kids have gone off and on.
    should we have lost the forest? maybe. i have to believe the museum will actually care for it in a way that the school system simply can’t. and, to be fair, is it truly ‘mission critical’?
    yes, the central office is bloated. yes, we’ve all heard the call to scrap the entire thing. for a billion dollar business, though, this simply isn’t possible. so, yes by all means, let’s cut. but let’s be realistic as well.

  17. curious says:

    This from the museum’s website:

    For the past 48 years, Fernbank Museum of Natural History leased Fernbank Forest® to the DeKalb County School System. This year, the lease expires, and as planned for decades, stewardship of and programming in Fernbank Forest will return to the Museum. Also starting this year, Fernbank Museum will develop a Stewardship and Master Plan for the Forest and Museum campus. This Master Plan will identify and direct new programs and improvements to Fernbank Forest for the future. Fernbank Forest, preserved by our founders nearly a century ago, is nothing short of a national treasure. It is our intention to fulfill the rich legacy they began in a noteworthy and environmentally sensitive manner

  18. Miss Management says:

    Wanna bet they dismantle the planetarium and rebuild it at Arabia?

  19. curious says:

    Make that “FSC.”

  20. Miss Management says:

    That totally conflicts with what ‘curious’ above copied and pasted from the museum’s website.

  21. Sad to be Anonymous says:

    Please, join us and take a short walk beyond the reception area. The hallway to the rear is hung with a fractals exhibit on loan from the South Carolina State Museum. In the past year, four other exhibits have been hung there, including the work of Druid Hills High School photography students. The Einstein kiosk next to the gravity well was installed circa 2005. The observation beehive is circa 2004. The live animal exhibit on your left when you reach this area was installed in 2006. The bird kiosk, with interactive video and audio of each bird on display, was installed circa 2009. Step through the back doors into the garden and check out the pollinator signage (2011) and the invasive plants kiosk (2008). Or, stay inside and move on to check out some more temporary exhibits as well as the new meteorite exhibit (2010) and new video showing the significance of the Apollo 6 capsule (2012). It’s perfectly fair to discuss the productivity or the ROI, and speculate on how many designers FSC needs, but please get out of your car and take an actual look around before stating that all our exhibits are at least 13 years old, as though it’s a fact.

  22. Sad to be Anonymous says:

    When they say that Fernbank Forest (registered trademark?) is “returning” to the management of the museum, please be aware that the museum didn’t EXIST when this lease began. Ask people who were living in the neighborhood about the condition of the forest in the early 1960’s. That provides a good starting point for evaluating the Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s corporate line.

  23. Hr88 says:

    “Sad” has the 100% accurate info here – the facts. Thank you for posting!

  24. dekalbite2 says:

    Since the school system does not have the monetary resources to improve the Fernbank Forest (or even the Fernbank Science Center building), it seems logical that Fernbank Museum takes it back since they do have the resources. Look at the Fernbank Museum “Discover and Learn” page. How much would it cost to send every child in DeKalb to the Fenbank Museum every year? Millions less than it costs to run Fernbank Science Center. Look at the resources they have to offer:
    http://www.fernbankmuseum.org/discover-and-learn/

  25. Hr88 says:

    Actually, my school board member does read this blog.

  26. Hr88 says:

    Well guess what – the FSC teachers, some of DeKalb’s finest, have not been dispersed to the schools. Instead, they have been terminated and many are looking beyond DCSS for a new job.

  27. what a sham says:

    The year long membership cost is not bad. Compare to the aquarium or Stone Mtn. or Atlanta Zoo. It is the one membership we always renew. A/C, kids area, changing exhibits, close to home and reciprocal membership to museums around the country. Much worse ways to spend $95 a year for my family.

    I would rather pay my share by choice then see my school tax money support it at the expense of actual science in the classroom.

  28. Dunwoody Mom says:

    A majority on the board (5-4) voted to save transportation over teachers

    The vote to keep magnet transportation had everything to do with making sure magnet students could get to Arabia Mountain. The school system is desperate to have a “high performing” school in S. DeKalb. I don’t necessary disagree with that thought, but, as we discussed ad nauseum, if students really want to attend a school outside their attendance zone, then they, and their parents, need to make that happen, not a financially strapped school district.

  29. Arabia Mountain High School is not a magnet school.

  30. Hr88 says:

    The museum has few if any offerings for high school students. The auditorium programs the museum has offered in the past were all taught by FSC teachers, DCSD employees, not museum staff.

  31. Dunwoody Mom says:

    Arabia Mountain High School is not a magnet school.

    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/school-choice/arabia-mountain-high-school-brochure-(2012-2013).pdf
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/school-choice/school-choice-informational-brochure-(2012-2013).pdf

    Arabia Mountain High School
    5100 Browns Mill Rd.
    Lithonia, Georgia 30038
    Magnet/CareerTechnology
    9-12 N/A 3.0 GPA
    Eligible test scores
    (magnet only)
    2/6 at 9:00 a.m.
    2/8 at 9:00 a.m.
    March 2012 April 2012
    Satellite Location

  32. PolitiMom says:

    It may be a great repository of science projects and such, but it is grossly underutilized for the cost of maintaining it. And in a time where we had to find $80+million, a luxury we should have sacrificed in trade for 2 less students per class or the interpreters or transportation to magnets. Of course they took the easy way out and terminated the teachers there without thinking about how they could utilize them more effectively. Its what they do in our “premier” school system.

  33. The FSC teachers are not just some of DCSS’s finest, they are some of Georgia’s finest teachers. Some are nationally known in their fields. And, guess what, they were going into DCSS schools daily. FSC instructors were enhancing and extending classroom science education. With Fernbank Science Center as their home base, FSC instructors were also working with and teaching students on nights and weekends in extra-curricular activities and events.

    Not every student is going to develop an interest in science. But, for those who do, FSC and its high-quality instructors provided a launching platform. There are hundreds of stories of DCSS students who have been turned on to science by FSC; here’s a true story of one student that is highly representative: A little girl tentatively raised her hand and volunteered to participate in a rocket-building competition at FSC. From that tiny acorn of interest grew a mighty oak tree. Today, that little girl — all grown up and with years of involvement in science nurtured and stoked by FSC instructors — recently completed her bachelor’s and is about to complete master’s degrees at Georgia Tech. Now she is weighing two competing job offers in engineering. One employer has already upped the ante by offering a higher salary than originally offered. FSC provided the key to that little girl’s future — a future she wasn’t even aware of until, Alice-in-Wonderland-like, she fell down the rabbit hole into Fernbank Science Center and met up with its exceptional instructors.

  34. justwatch says:

    Arabia Mt. houses several choice programs. Hosts DeKalb County School System’s Environmental Energy and Engineering Magnet Program (9-12)

  35. justwatch says:

    Those facts are really scary to those of who have watched dwindling resources in the schools for the last 7 years. I suspect that no current board members, and perhaps no current bureaucrats, were aware of the amount of support coming from school system $$$s to FMNH. On every level, this is wrong and was wrong. If the museum needed government support, it should have come from DeKalb County itself, not the school system.

  36. Fernbank Science Center is NOT a “repository of science projects and such.” FSC extends and enhances science education for ALL DCSS students.

    Terminating FSC instructors WILL NOT result in fewer students per classroom. Terminating FSC instructors just takes the pressure off Atkinson and the board to right-size the Palace. Terminating FSC instructors and other teachers (yes, Tekshia, media specialists ARE teachers) means that Atkinson and the Board can keep the overpaid, under talented friends-and-family in place.

  37. Dunwoody Mom says:

    I’m not sure why my initial comment, along with the proper documentation ,but to answer the moderator….Arabia Mountain does house a magnet program and there is transportation, ala the satellite program offered.

  38. Miss Management says:

    A fractals exhibit on loan from the South Carolina State Museum — four other exhibits including the work of Druid Hills High School photography students — an Einstein kiosk — a gravity well? Who knew? !!

  39. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    Your earlier comment has been released, DM. It just got stuck in moderation – which often happens when you post links. Sometimes those even get kicked to the spam folder.

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