Report: What does Fernbank really do and for whom?

In 2005, the DeKalb school board appointed a blue ribbon task force to recommend the future direction of the Fernbank Science Center. The final report delivered to the district in 2006 apparently never led to any real action on anyone’s part.

The charge to the task force from then school chief Crawford Lewis was to “…review Fernbank’s programs, services and facilities along with the needs of all the stakeholders in our community…”

A year later, the task force reported back to the school board that it was stymied in its efforts and could not create that future blueprint. (For a strong view on keeping Fernbank open, read this post.)

Here is the summary letter from Sally Sears, who was chair of the executive committee of the Blue Ribbon Future of Fernbank Committee. As you read this letter, you get a better sense of why the DeKalb school board is now giving serious consideration to closing Fernbank.

Here is the summary letter:

This final report contains strong recommendations. The two dozen people who sat down to this job almost exactly a year ago share many of Fernbank’s admirable characteristics. They are thorough, committed, bright and questioning. Yet the job of defining the future of this wonderful place was complex. We did not succeed in creating a blueprint for its future. It frustrated many of us. We found:

•The Science Center critically needs attention, oversight and support from school administrators and the public.

•We struggle to find basic documents about the Science Center’s finances, lease agreements and teaching arrangements.  The methods of record keeping and the records themselves seem opaque.

•The talent and dedication of the faculty is dimmed by conflicting missions and leadership.

We support several ideas better to align the Science Center with your goal of improving science education throughout Premier DeKalb County Schools.  The immediate changes to polish the gem that is Fernbank include:

•A dramatic increase in the number of students offered the premiere class, Scientific Tools and Techniques, for school year 2006-2007, to demonstrate commitment to greater access and revamping middle school science teaching.

•Use technology in sharing terrific teaching through the system.

•Require mastery of science before promoting students.

The Subcommittee working on programming and instruction finds many nagging problems at Fernbank Science Center consistent with lack of funding, conflicting missions and oversight. Maintenance, the future of the forest, bus schedules, and poor follow-through from classroom teachers figure in the problems we found.

But perhaps most discouraging was our difficulty clarifying and evaluating what Fernbank Science Center actually does, and who its target populations are.

The remaining three subcommittees struggled with similar issues. They did not choose to create reports.

Sally Sears

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

84 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
3:51 pm

And there you have it…no one really knows what goes on within FSC, but hey it’s gem, we don’t know why, but it is.

John Adcox

May 29th, 2012
3:57 pm

::sigh::

Here’s why:

AN ENHANCED APPROACH TO SCIENCE EDUCATION:

AN EVALUATION OF THE FERNBANK

SCIENTIFIC TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES PROGRAM

Ralph Buice, Fernbank Science Center
Su Ellen Bray, DeKalb County Schools
William L. Curlette, Georgia State University

Presented at

1993 Annual Meeting
American Educational Research Association
Atlanta, Georgia

Co-sponsored by DeKalb County School System and the Educational Research Bureau of Georgia State University

TOUR OF FERNBANK SCIENCE CENTER AND
FERNBANK MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

AN ENHANCED APPROACH TO SCIENCE EDUCATION:
AN EVALUATION OF THE FERNBANK
SCIENTIFIC TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES PROGRAM

Ralph Buice, Fernbank Science Center
Su Ellen Bray, DeKalb County Schools
William L. Curlette, Georgia State University

Objectives

The purpose of this paper is to present the findings of an evaluation of the Fernbank Science Center’s Scientific Tools and Techniques (STT) program. This 15 minute paper presentation will be given in conjunction with a tour of the Science Center and Museum and observation of STT classes actually in session.

Perspective

The STT Program at Fernbank Science Center is an innovative quarter-long magnet program which is available to ninth and tenth grade students in DeKalb County who show a special interest in mathematics and science. In addition to classroom lectures, this comprehensive program in science education incorporates laboratory research, field trips, and individual instruction. Topics covered include meteorology, physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, aerospace, animal ecology, plant ecology, electron microscopy, microbiology, ornithology, and physiology. The STT program is taught both in the Naturalist Center of the new Fernbank Museum of Natural History and Fernbank Science Center. The overall Fernbank complex is a unique partnership of the DeKalb County School System and Fernbank Inc., a non-profit corporation.

Data Sources

Data for the program evaluation were obtained from the academic student histories and, in addition to gender and race, consisted of the number of science courses taken (NSC) and the science grade point average (GPA). A control group was obtained by matching each student in the STT program with a student who did not take the STT program but had the same home school, gender, race, eighth grade science GPA, and specific eighth grade science courses. The sample size for the STT program evaluation was 125 students a year for four years. Thus, the overall sample size was 1000 students. In addition, a mailed questionnaire was sent to each student in the experimental and control group.

Methods

The primary hypothesis is that the population mean science GPA of the STT group will be greater than the control group. Descriptive statistics are presented for the quasi-experimental design that compares the STT program to a matched control group. In addition, a repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was run on science GPA and the number of science courses taken (NSC). Responses to the items that were asked of both the STT and control groups on the questionnaire are compared using inferential statistics.

Results

Overall, the students in the STT program at the end of their senior year had a science GPA of 3.196 compared to the control group which had a GPA of 2.977, a difference of 7.36 percent. For the subgroup of Black Males, the mean GPA for the STT program was 2.887 in contrast to a mean GPA of 2.426 for the control group, a difference of 19.00 percent. The number of science courses taken by students in the STT program at the end of their senior year was 7.872 compared to 7.588, a difference of 3.74 percent. For the subgroup of Black Males, the mean number of science courses taken was 7.690 compared to the control group which had a mean number of science courses taken of 6.381, a difference of 20.51 percent.

As part of the study a questionnaire was mailed to students in the STT and control groups. The response rate for an initial mailing and a follow-up was 40.8 percent. A univariate analysis of variance for one-within and two-between factors for selected responses on the questionnaire resulted in week non-significance for responses grouped according to the week in which they were received. Among the findings of the questionnaire are 1) STT students are three times as likely to be employed full-time in science or a science-related field as the control, 2) STT students are almost twice as likely to have majored in science in college as the control, and 3) STT students are four times as likely to have received a science award while in college as the control.

Educational and Scientific Importance of the Study

As far as can be determined, there is no science program of this magnitude involving a partnership between a museum and a school system in the United States. Furthermore, the results indicate that the STT program could serve as a model for enhanced science education. Based on these results, a science program patterned after STT will be offered to inner city seventh grade students this summer. In addition, a qualitative research study to assess the STT program in the new Fernbank Museum by the DeKalb School System is under consideration.

Multivariate Analysis of Variance for
One-Within and Two-Between Factors for
Two Dependent Variables (GPA and NSC)

Between-Subjects Effects Wilks Lambda p-value

Sex by Race by Year 0.988 0.481
Race by Year 0.990 0.596
Sex by Year 0.993 0.763
Sex by Race 0.993 0.194
Year 0.963 0.008
Race 0.985 0.034
Sex 0.987 0.050

Within-Subjects Effects

Sex by Race by Year by Condition 0.990 0.563
Race by Year by Condition 0.989 0.528
Sex by Year by Condition 0.987 0.399
Sex by Race by Condition 0.987 0.045
Year by Condition 0.970 0.032
Race by Condition 0.998 0.698
Sex by Condition 0.998 0.702
Condition 0.226 <0.001

Note: The factor Condition has two levels which are Experimental and Control.

Univariate Analysis of Variance for
One-Within and Two-Between Factors
For GPA as Dependent Variable

Tests of Between-Subjects Effects.

SS DF MS F Sig of F

Within Cells 325.22 460 .71
Constant 5554.31 1 5554.31 7856.13 .000
Sex 6.42 1 6.42 9.08 .003
Race 29.06 1 29.06 41.11 .000
Year 9.16 3 3.05 4.32 .005
Sex by Race .67 1 .67 .95 .330
Sex by Year 2.00 3 .67 .94 .420
Race by Year 2.41 3 .80 1.14 .333
Sex by Race by Year 1.28 3 .43 .60 .614

Tests involving 'Cond' Within-Subject Effect.

SS DF MS F Sig of F

Within Cells 169.63 460 .37
Cond 12.17 1 12.17 33.01 .000
Sex by Cond 2.38 1 2.38 6.44 .011
Race by Cond 2.21 1 2.21 6.01 .015
Year by Cond 1.99 3 .66 1.80 .146
Sex by Race by Cond .01 1 .01 .02 .884
Sex by Year by Cond 1.55 3 .52 1.40 .241
Race by Year by Cond .33 3 .11 .29 .830
Sex by Race by Year by Cond .52 3 .17 .47 .701

Univariate Analysis of Variance for
One-Within and Two-Between Factors
For NSC as Dependent Variable

Tests of Between-Subjects Effects.

SS DF MS F Sig of F

Within Cells 4492.68 460 9.77
Constant 36354.40 1 36354.40 3722.28 .000
Sex 17.14 1 17.14 1.75 .186
Race 9.06 1 9.06 .93 .336
Year 137.30 3 45.77 4.69 .003
Sex by Race 27.81 1 27.81 2.85 .092
Sex by Year 10.37 3 3.46 .35 .786
Race by Year 25.73 3 8.58 .88 .452
Sex by Race by Year 12.72 3 4.24 .43 .729

Tests involving 'Cond' Within-Subject Effect.

SS DF MS F Sig of F

Within Cells 3155.97 460 6.86
Cond 24.05 1 24.05 3.51 .062
Sex by Cond 10.42 1 10.42 1.52 .218
Race by Cond 4.02 1 4.02 .59 .445
Year by Cond 18.72 3 6.24 .91 .436
Sex by Race by Cond 14.75 1 14.75 2.15 .143
Sex by Year by Cond 21.64 3 7.21 1.05 .370
Race by Year by Cond 17.06 3 5.69 .83 .478
Sex by Race by Year by Cond 27.78 3 9.26 1.35 .258

Comparison of GPA and NSC
Between Treatment and Control

Initial Sample

Group GPA NSC

Treatment 3.165 7.954
Control 2.938 7.620

7.73 % 4.38 %

Comparison of GPA and NSC
Between Treatment and Control
Missing Value Cases Removed

Group GPA NSC

Treatment 3.210 7.954
Control 2.980 7.620

7.71 % 4.38 %

Comparison of GPA and NSC
Between Treatment and Control
Mean Values Substituted

Group GPA NSC

Treatment 3.207 7.954
Control 2.978 7.620

7.68 % 4.38 %

Comparison of GPA and NSC
Between Treatment and Control
"Other" Category Removed

Group GPA NSC

Treatment 3.196 7.872
Control 2.977 7.588

7.36 % 3.74 %

Comparison of GPA
Between Treatment and Control
"Other" Category Removed

Group FW FB MW MB

Treatment 3.360 2.960 3.226 2.887
Control 3.320 2.700 2.943 2.426

1.20 % 9.63 % 9.62 % 19.00 %

Comparison of NSC
Between Treatment and Control
"Other" Category Removed

Group FW FB MW MB

Treatment 7.824 7.824 7.958 7.690
Control 7.514 7.851 7.788 6.381

4.13 % 0.00 % 2.18 % 20.51 %

SURVEY RESULTS

Per Cent
Question Experimental Control

1. Employed full-time in science or related field 12.1 4.2
2. Employed part-time in science or related field 16.5 6.6
3. Two-year college graduate 3.0 3.0
4. Four-year college graduate 34.6 29.3
5. Currently enrolled in college 68.4 73.7
6. Majored or currently majoring in science 45.0 26.3
7. Worked as a science lab assistant in HS 8.7 1.8
8. Worked as a science lab assistant in college 18.6 3.6
9. Received a science award in high school 46.8 20.4
10. Received a science award in college 8.2 2.4

Scale (0=Low, 5=High)
Question Experimental Control

11. Motivated to seek job in science by HS courses 3.293 2.677
12. Motivated to take college science courses by HS courses 3.784 3.180
13. Motivated to join science groups by HS courses 3.069 2.527
14. Motivated to become interested in science hobbies 3.649 3.000

Per Cent
Question Experimental Control

15. Would recommend the STT program to students today 96.2
16. Had siblings who participated in STT 21.3
17. Used facilities at Fernbank after STT 48.1
18. Used planetarium 36.2
19. Used library 25.5
20. Attended lectures 13.6
21. Visited exhibits 32.8
22. Enrolled in Independent Study 10.2
23. Had one-on-one help from Fernbank instructor 10.2
24. Attended a Fernbank Festival 19.6
25. Joined STT Alumni Club 19.6

Scale (0=Low, 5=High)
Question Experimental Control

26. STT motivated me to select more science courses 3.872
27. STT made me feel more confident in science courses 4.340
28. STT was a valuable experience 4.664

Note: The returned questionnaires were grouped according to the first, second, third, or fourth week in which they were received. Those received after the fourth week were placed in group five.

A univariate analysis of variance for one-within and two-between factors for questions 11-14 resulted in week non-significance for the first four weeks of responses versus the last group of responses.

Appendix I
Overview of Fernbank

Audience
Fernbank’s primary audience is within a one hour drive and is essentially metro Atlanta, the 11th largest MSA in the United States with a population of 4,112,198 people. Of this area 37% is minority. Inner city Atlanta closer to Fernbank has a larger minority population. Fernbank is six miles east of the center of downtown Atlanta. DeKalb County Schools (one of the Fernbank partnership) enrollment is 76.6% Afro-American, 3.8% Asian, 6.4% Hispanic 2.1% multiracial and 10.8% Caucasian. It is a system where the minority is a majority. The Atlanta school system has a similar demographic. DeKalb and the Atlanta system are the two largest in the Metroplex.

Fernbank is very successful at reaching underserved audiences. Most local families have been to Fernbank if not recently, then when they were in school. As a result our image with underserved populations is a favorable one.

History
The Fernbank Science Center was founded in 1967 as a partnership between the DeKalb County schools and the Fernbank Foundation, a 501(C) (3) not for profit and is a unique application of formal and informal science education. As one of the founding members of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) Fernbank has been an innovator for nearly 35 years. The initial facility included a 500-seat planetarium, an observatory with a 36-inch reflecting telescope, an Apollo capsule, exhibit halls and classrooms, greenhouses, gardens and an old growth forest preserve, the only one in Atlanta. The forest is designated as one of the best walks in Georgia and will be featured in a new publication on Urban Forests by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. As part of the long-range plan Fernbank Natural History Museum opened in 1996 with an IMAX theater and an extra 160,000 square feet of new space. Over 800,000 people visit the Fernbank Complex each year.

Program
The bulk of Fernbank’s visitation is in single field trip visits or public attendance but we also produce extensive educational programs ranging from vocational horticulture to aerospace education. Fernbank is a partner with NASA’s SEMAA program and produces curriculum for the program. We serve over 825 students in it each year in summer, fall and spring daytime sessions that include 21 hours of study for upper level students and 12 hours of study for elementary students. Fernbank also does SpaceStation Fernbank, a summer aerospace camp. As part of the SEMAA program Fernbank pioneered Parents Café program to involve parents in the SEMAA activities while their child attends class and to provide continuing education in science and life and parenting skills. Last year we served 1048 parents in the SEMAA program.

Similarly, students visit our Quest summer camps on other topics as well as a variety of programs, lectures and activities in the forest and gardens. These range from bird watching and bird banding to composting.

Fernbank has also been instrumental in writing the DeKalb County Schools Science Standards, which are based in state and national standards.

Staff

Fernbank has a center of excellence in its educational program and boasts of one of the finest faculties at any museum or science center in North America. There are over 60 professional scientists and educators on staff and over two thirds of them have advanced degrees. The disciplines include astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology, microbiology, computer science, the history of science, meteorology, entomology, forestry, horticulture, entomology, ornithology, geology, environmental science, ecology, paleontology, archeology, physiology, neuroscience, genetics as well as science and aerospace education at all grade levels. There are 180 staff members with one half of those supported by the DeKalb County Schools.

Since Fernbank’s inception as a partnership between a school system and a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation, Fernbank has excelled at creating additional partnerships. Present partners include NASA, Zoo Atlanta, The Arabia Mountain Project, Project GLOBE, Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia Tech, Emory University, The Atlanta Black College Network, Agnes Scott College, Georgia State University and various interest or professional groups and clubs ranging from Audubon and Astronomy to Tourism and Watershed Alliances.

blurb

May 29th, 2012
4:04 pm

Sigh. Typical of the DeKalb County School System — commission a report or task force or consultant and then ignore the recommendations. If only this task force’s recommendations had been followed, we probably would not be having the debate about closing the science center.

yes i am worried

May 29th, 2012
4:08 pm

John

Do you know how different DCSS is now than 20 years ago? What about how different DeKalb is? The once affluent county isn’t anymore and probably won’t be ever. We simply can’t afford everything we once did.

What new partnerships have been created in the last 3 years, since Fernbank was last on the chopping block?

Scott Fresno

May 29th, 2012
4:13 pm

So, let’s throw out the baby with the bathwater? I know that the Science Center inspires children in the sciences. And that is something we – as a county, a state, and a nation – need. Rather than throw up our hands like silly fools, fix the parts that need fixing and move on.

John

May 29th, 2012
4:14 pm

The problem with Fernbank or any educational program lies in setting priorities. In this day of diminishing state support and diminishing local property tax bases, local school boards are required to make cuts. However, every time a school board proposes eliminating or reducing funding for any program, some group steps up and circulates a petition that the budget cuts must come elsewhere because their particular pet program is absolutely vital. When the school board tries to cut salaries or raise class sizes, members get ambushed by the teacher organizations. When the board tries to reduce funding for school nurses, counselors, media specialists and other support personnel, those groups come oit of the wood work and claim that board members don’t care about children. When a board tries to reduce funding for fine arts and athletics (which in total accounts for less than one tenth of 1 percent of most school system budgets), the booster clubs scream that this funding is essential. I have enjoyed trips to Fernbank in the past but can anybody actually say funding for the museum is more important than the other needs of the deKalb County School System?

MannyT

May 29th, 2012
4:16 pm

Not in Dekalb, so no dog in the fight. Looks like there were plans to develop science excellence in 1993. With many leadership changes since then, it’s easy to understand that mission may have been diluted or changed. I’d ask can the mission be clarified and justified for 2013 & beyond. If so, what does it cost and is it worth the cost to move forward with updated goals?

Wayne Meyers

May 29th, 2012
4:17 pm

I took a great class at Fernbank this spring for educators. Debi Huffman is a wonderful aerospace resource for DeKalb.

yes i am worried

May 29th, 2012
4:19 pm

One of the recommendations in the 2005 report was this, “Lab classes are limited to 24 students per lab.” We are no where near that and that is a huge issue. Let’s see how reallocating at least most of FSC’s resources to the schoolhouses can help us reach this goal.

Once Again

May 29th, 2012
4:22 pm

Add yet another to the FAIL column for the government school system. A private business would never operate this way (or they would fail and go out of business).

yes i am worried

May 29th, 2012
4:23 pm

Really well said John….

skipper

May 29th, 2012
4:27 pm

This school system is so scrwed up………….incometant folks and too much dead weight….get rid of the dead weight and non-necessary programs and watdh it improve.

skipper

May 29th, 2012
4:29 pm

thats “incompetent” and “watch”..long weekend! Not too long to realize that the system is a cluster………………

Atlanta Media Guy

May 29th, 2012
4:33 pm

Sally Sears, the former TV reporter and wife of Richard Belcher? Gee, I wonder why Clew did not take the advice of HIS “blue ribbon” panel?

Can anyone remember how many “blue ribbon” panels Clew put together and how many of those he never listened to? I honestly think all those past Blue Ribbon panels were smoke and mirrors to distract the stake holders from finding out the truth about the RICO operation CLEW and his friends were operating out of his office. No wonder Clew needed a shower in his new office at the Palace. Anyone would need a shower after working for that corrupt operation.

Until Tyson, Ramsey, Tucker, Moseley, Thompson, Berry, Mitchell-Mayfield, Beasley, the Guilroy’s, any of Francis Edward’s kids and kins are shown the door, do not expect anything to change! All Atkinson is doing is what Tyson and Clew did before her, balance the budget on the backs of our teachers. Dr. Atkinson your allegiances to the former regime and to the Friends and Family plan are obvious and well, rather obnoxious.

dekalbed

May 29th, 2012
4:33 pm

I’m struck by the suggestion that Dekalb? Fernbank? “Require mastery of science before promoting students.” From what I’ve learned teaching in Dekalb, students don’t have to master anything to move to the next level or class. According to the CRCT scores published on Dekalb’s webstire, @ 50% of last year’s 8th graders did not meet the expectations/requirements, but they moved on. Students fail 9th, 10th, and/or 11th grade history, English, and/or science classes and they move on.

jarvis

May 29th, 2012
4:33 pm

Any chance that the non-profit that runs the IMAX and Natural History Museum or a similar entity would be willing to take on the Science Center?

Decoupling it from the Dekalb County School System might be a good solution.

I love that the question posed in the 2005 report is “What does the Science Center do, and who is its target audience?” That says everything about the School System’s lack of ability to set any agenda. Give the Science Center a direction and follow it…

This is the Mueseum’s Mission: “Fernbank Museum’s mission is to inspire life-long learning of natural history through dynamic programming to encourage a greater appreciation of our planet and its people.”

That probably took them 10 minutes to right and a half-hour to agree on….Government isn’t the solution.

Teacher2

May 29th, 2012
4:48 pm

What are these panels called “Blue Ribbon?” Sounds rather silly.

Ron F.

May 29th, 2012
4:51 pm

Like many things in Dekalb these days, FSC suffers from lack of focus and poor leadership. How my kids in rural GA could benefit from something like this, but we don’t have the money to even take field trips let alone have a science center. The sad reality is that there is no leadership capable of managing this place properly, so closing it will likely be the only fiscally sound decision the school system can make. What a sad outcome for what was, for a long time, a visionary program that likely got a lot of kids involved in science in a real way.

Teacher2

May 29th, 2012
4:54 pm

Typo s/b Why

Don H.

May 29th, 2012
5:09 pm

Not to worry. Coca-Cola or some other corporation making “evil” profits on behalf of the 50% of us with retirement savings invested in its stock … will subsidize Fernbank.

Maybe even assisted by the not-for-profit schools so disparaged by union shills on this website!

Don H.

May 29th, 2012
5:11 pm

Not to worry. Coca-Cola or some other corporation making “evil” profits on behalf of the 50% of us with retirement savings invested in stocks … will subsidize Fernbank.

Don H.

May 29th, 2012
5:12 pm

Maybe even assisted by the not-for-profit schools so disparaged by union shills on this website!

Beverly Fraud

May 29th, 2012
5:16 pm

Where’s Jerry Eads when you need him to dissect the John Adcox post?

Big Mama

May 29th, 2012
5:17 pm

If Fernbank is a valuable asset to the community, cut it loose from the school system and let the community support it through admission fees. Why are the schools making cuts in the classroom while still supporting extras like sports, science centers, etc. ?

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
5:18 pm

Well, poor John, he copied information from a 1993 document. DCSD as it was in 1993 is long, long gone.

Ed Scofield

May 29th, 2012
5:24 pm

Only an idiot would close Fernbank. Based on the education my older son received at Fernbank, my son received a Presidential Scholarship to Georgia Tech. He went on to graduate with a MASTER’S DEGREE in Physics in just 4-1/2 years. My younger son also benefited from Fernbank. The computer courses (Turbo Pascal) he took there at Griffith House catapulted him into a career in which he designs computer chips. If Fernbank goes on the chopping block, the School Board and the Superintendent should be fired and “reeducated” in Siberia. . . !

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
5:28 pm

@Ed, exactly what was the education your son received at Fernbank?

bootney farnsworth

May 29th, 2012
5:33 pm

so, EXACTLY,

what should be closed to keep FCS open?
DCSS is 70 mil in debt.

bootney farnsworth

May 29th, 2012
5:35 pm

@ Ed

I’m a + 1 with Dunwoody mom. what, EXACTLY kind of education did your son get at Fernbank?
I don’t recall them having day to day classes, so unless we’re talking the elementary school …

bootney farnsworth

May 29th, 2012
5:36 pm

only an idiot would keep funding FSC under these current circumstances.

bootney farnsworth

May 29th, 2012
5:38 pm

@ John

next time, please just post the link and maybe one or two vital bits of info.

Atlanta Media Guy

May 29th, 2012
5:39 pm

ThanksDM, I was wondering why he would copy and paste a 20 year old document. Shutter FSC, bring STT and the teachers into the schools. Let the designers and the cabinet maker get a job at the aquarium, World of Coke or the Atlanta History Center. Folks, our former CFO has raped our accounts dried and we’re sitting here arguing over a perk, not a need!

We need teachers, Para Pros, Librarians/Media Specialists. We don’t need the Palace! We don’t need the Old Offices on North Decatur. How about we start selling the properties of DCSS that have not been used in 5 years. The old CMS in Dunwoody is a eye sore and is falling apart. Sell this prime property at top dollar! How many other prime properties could DCSS sell? Like the property on North Druid Hills Road? When Sembler wanted it, Clew did what he could by moving Kittredge and then of course Sembler backed out leaving Clew holding the bag AGAIN!

Stop the bickering over FSC and let’s start cutting! It’s not our fault we have no money, it’s the fault of POOR CORRUPT LEADERSHIP who spent too much time thinking of themselves an NOT the mission of DCSS.

Tyson MUST GO! Ramsey MUST GO, Tucker MUST go, and of the folks from Clew’s cabinet MUST GO! Why are so many from Clew’s regime still employed? These “leaders” are the true failures of DCSS, not the kids.

bootney farnsworth

May 29th, 2012
5:40 pm

and most telling of all…
once again a DCSS component with bad leadership and sketchy finances

bootney farnsworth

May 29th, 2012
5:42 pm

@ atl media guy,

only one problem with your ideas. in this market, you’ll never be able to move the property for what its worth. better to shut them down and keep a skeleton crew on hand to maintain them til the market improves

(assuming it ever does)

RCB

May 29th, 2012
5:43 pm

If Fernbank is so great, why wouldn’t it succeed if it were privatized? It doesn’t sound like they offer anything more than a science teacher could/should be teaching. If you want the enrichment classes they offer, pay for them. Dekalb can no longer afford this “luxury.”

Don H.

May 29th, 2012
5:45 pm

Sorry for duplication in posts. Maureen doesn’t favor my non-union viewpoint and so forces me to constantly await her “permission” to be heard. This sometimes results in duplicated posts when I grow impatient and re-post by other means. Censorship does inspire innovation.

In my next life I want to be an unhindered union shill like Ron F … or be posting to the less liberal and more representative newspaper which one day replaces the AJC.

Maureen Downey

May 29th, 2012
5:51 pm

@Don H. Not holding back your posts. No idea why the filter did not publish your original post, but did publish the split posts. If I were holding back your posts as you state, nothing from you in any form would post.
Maureen

But to all, I am moderating more posts as I am trying to reduce personal attacks and off-topic postings. I am also banning folks who repeatedly post off topic. It seems to be making the blog more appealing to a wider audience, as we posted record numbers of page views thus far this month, 407,000. (To put that number in context, the high was 29,000 a month when I took over this blog in August of 2009.)
Thanks for reading.

bootney farnsworth

May 29th, 2012
5:59 pm

at some point you guys are gonna have to acknowledge a basic fact.

DCSS is beyond broke. in the business world, you’re bankrupt and in receivership. the Sheriff would have padlocked the doors and be hauling away the telescope to pay creditors.

70 + million in debt is not belt tightening. it is slash and burn, with jobs lost and facilities closed.
quibbling about FCS is like fussing over making the beds before Titanic sinks.

if DeKalb citizens and DCSS don’t start dealing in reality instead of fantasy, you’re gonna be wishing for the good old days of just being $70 mil in debt

bootney farnsworth

May 29th, 2012
6:03 pm

@ Don H

on behalf of conservatives everywhere….
knock it off.

bootney farnsworth

May 29th, 2012
6:05 pm

harsh reality time:

its not like DCSS students et al are burning up the states colleges with their scientific acument.

irisheyes

May 29th, 2012
6:07 pm

Why not start charging for admission? Charge $2 per student for DCSS students and $5 per student for classes outside DCSS. It may not pay for the entire operating costs, but it’ll pay for a huge chunk.

70 million?

May 29th, 2012
6:09 pm

When the science center goes, it’s gone for good. It’s a sad reality, but if DeKalb was serious about getting it’s financial house in order, about half the administration has to go to cut costs. Along with cancelling football season, homecoming, prom, drama programs, and any other extracurriculars that require a single cent of school money. If the parents want it, they can pay for it and let a private entity sponsor/host. Free market solution, right?

bootney farnsworth

May 29th, 2012
6:21 pm

lets be really brutally honest here

the citizens of DeKalb county have been happy to allow DCSS to be a jobs program/social experiment.
it has failed on both counts. but the county voters were happy to let it continue.

and here we are: so deeply in debt Obama would be ashamed.

for all the carping about how wonderful FCS is, DeKalb has worked very hard to get itself into this position. you’ve allowed incompetent fools to run DCSS for too long.

when FCS closes, you really have nobody to blame but yourselves

Don H.

May 29th, 2012
6:34 pm

@blabney farnsworth: On behalf of readers—PLEASE consider cultivating some alternative hobbies! Your mother may delight in your incessant blabber. We don’t so much.

SCH

May 29th, 2012
6:35 pm

I am conflicted… about as conflicted as someone trying to figure out Fernbank’s mission. Conflicted because I was “salvaged” as a student by Fernbank (typical undermotivated student finds motivation in unique opportunities at Fernbank)… but that was 30 years ago.

I think the conflict here is between a science museum and an a specialized instructional facility. On the one hand we have this neglected facility that is free to the general public (the entire Atlanta area) and funded by the school board. It’s inspirational to a lot of 3rd-5th graders, and it could be quite nice with sufficent money poured into it. Is that really the core mission of the DCSS? Even in good times, probably not.

On the other hand, we have the instruction – a lot of people have said those resources could be better utilized if distributed amongst the rest of the schools. That’s an opinion, honestly… but so is my position. Personally, I don’t see that – I see that is a way of assuring that only those students in certain schools will get access to AP courses. I think Fernbank has a long way to go to fullful what I think it’s real mission should be (being the centerpiece of middle and highscool science education), but I think they can be that. A number of programs they offer could only be offered in select schools, and some could not find a home in any single school simply because of the limited number of students in any one school who are either interested or qualified.

I worry that, however, they can’t be that while they are conflicted with two missions – operating a museum and operating an instructional center. I see where continued, tight, association would be beneficial but I just don’t see where operating a museum is in the best interest of a struggling school system.

I have a lot of fondness for that place, and I honestly think that the museum would thrive in the hands of a private/non-profit. But, when I took my 4 year old there recently, I was quite disappointed. It is where it is for many reasons, not the least of which is the complete and total lack of leadership from previous DCSS administrations.

That said, I think it should be given a chance… given the year to come up with a plan… not from a “blue ribbon comission”, but from the folks currently there. Direct them to two tasks:
1) Identify a suitable non-profit partner to take over operations and maintanence of the museum.
2) Develop and begin implementation of a plan to increase utilization of the instructional resources of the facility with particular emphasis on serving the needs of schools where science education has been traditionally weak.

Give them a year, give them specific objectives… and if at the end, they have not achived, then maybe it’s time to go. It seems, though, like despite all the talk, no one has ever done that.

BlahBlahBlah

May 29th, 2012
6:41 pm

I bet they could randomly cut 25% of the administrative staff in the county and not lose one iota of “performance”. The fact that the science center lacked basic financial documents is horrifying. Heads should have rolled over that alone, but I doubt anything happened. When there’s no apparent accountability for anything from an administrative standpoint, no one should be surprised the county is in a $70 million hole.

bootney farnsworth

May 29th, 2012
6:48 pm

@ Don

I want you to know just how deeply wounded I am by your pity comments.
it took me all of less than no time to get over your scathing retort.

with such a command of language and a willingness to go for cheap shots
at the drop of a hat, I’ll be disappointed if you’re not in the state legislature

Don H.

May 29th, 2012
6:56 pm

@blabney: But you WILL consider finding at least one other hobby, right?

Jane W.

May 29th, 2012
7:03 pm

Yeah, bootney. Give us a break already!

Teacher Reader

May 29th, 2012
7:04 pm

@ Bootney Farnsworth, you hit the nail on the head. No one wants to face reality about the debt that we are in, which could be more than 73 million if home values have dropped further. No one cares what happens again next year, when we’re in another hole, or when we lose one or both of the law suits we are in which should net tens of millions of dollars and God only knows how many millions more to continue on with.

The biggest disgrace to me is the superintendent. I could have made her budget decision for a grand, and here she’s paid well over $300,000 a year to come up with raising taxes, increasing tax size, and furlough days. The university giving her, her PhD should be proud of the thinker that they developed.

Even if we cut administration and workers to the bare bones, we will not cover 73 million dollars. It’s really a shame that people are so short sighted.