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Fernbank Science Center Back on Chopping Block Monday

A Lakeside High School student is among the center's advocates who have argued with the DeKalb County School System to keep it open.

It appears the – recently spared from the DeKalb County Board of Education's budgetary axe – is back on the chopping block.

Hours before the board's final budget vote Monday, Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson said she would recommend $3.2 million in cuts to the facility, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

From the story:

Nonetheless, at an informal meeting of several board members to discuss the budget Monday morning, Atkinson said she'd asked Fernbank's director to recommend deep cuts. She didn't detail the proposal, but school district spokesman Walter Woods told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that many of the programs and the 56 staffers would be reduced or eliminated. He said, though, that Fernbank would still operate as a "fully functional" science center.

Another interesting North Druid Hills-Briarcliff-related detail: Among the advocates fighting to keep the school open is Kristen Weiss, a student. Weiss is mentioned in the story.

Will you go to tonight's meeting? And what do you think of Atkinson's decision to consider the center for deep cuts again? Tell us in the comments section below.

MrMatt June 11, 2012 at 07:12 PM
whatever happened to the consulting report indicating Dekalb should cut nearly 300 central office positions. according to the ajc.com article linked here, they shuffled a bunch of these positions out to the schools so as to minimize the 'size' of the central office, but not actually reducing anything. At the time, it was suggested they could save $15m from eliminating this overhead. But conveniently, the latest 'budget cut list' only suggests cutting 70 positions to save $5m, then offers up a bunch of other highly contentious options that no one will support. This will naturally lead the board to say, well -we'll have to raise taxes since no one wants to cut anything. But the real issue is the hard cuts that need to be made aren't really on the table - why aren't 300 administrators on the block instead of only 70? This system is a joke. http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/04/27/could-dekalb-schools-survive-without-129-assistant-principals-could-any-metro-system/
Sheila Ward June 11, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Please, residents of DeKalb County - if you value Fernbank Science Center and its educational programming - reach out to friends and family. Ask them to get the word out about the possible deep cuts to FSC's budget asked for by Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson as noted in the very recent AJC article. Read the article. Email the DeKalb County School Board members and ask that they reconsider such deep budget cuts for FSC which may result in changes to quality of programming and jobs lost.
Jim Dillon June 11, 2012 at 07:25 PM
I'll be at the meeting tonight, wearing a green shirt to show my support for Fernbank Science Center.
lastminutemom June 11, 2012 at 07:26 PM
The Fernbank Science positions were in that report, as they were classified as central office employees. We will have to wait to hear, but I believe far more positions have been cut than 70. Regardless, long term, the school system cannot afford to be in the museum business. Sorry, can you identify another school system that employees exhibit designers and cabinet makers?
lastminutemom June 11, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Teachers and administrators across the county are losing their jobs. Class sizes are being increased. Why should Fernbank Science Center be spared cuts.
MrMatt June 11, 2012 at 07:40 PM
For every person who supports FSC, i'd simply ask they indicate which cuts they are in favor of...everyone has their pet issue. It's always "don't impact me"...which is consistent with the no-compromise politics of the day, and also symbolic of a culture of kicking and screaming to get what we want. I have no stake in FSC - i'm sure it's wonderful. But to close a $75m gap, good things will have to go - not just bad things.
dianne joy June 11, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Am I living in Clayton County? And what were all those magnifIcent promises Ms. Atkinson made? Education is at the back of one of those school buses that has been eliminated from the magnet schools. At one time, DC had a wonderful school system but now it is not focused educating our children but preserving a fat bureaucratic administration and funding legal fees that would not even be needed if those making decisions were ethical. Well-paid and trained teachers, Fernbank Science Center, the pre K program, school board representations that represent neighborhood, safe, Neighborhood schools--all these components of what has made DeKalb County Schools desirable but distinguishable but now--our school system is an embarrassing, corrupt group that is supported by each of us tax payers. My grandchildren are 3rd genersation DeKalb County students but KNOW they are not getting the education we did under the wonderful guidance of Jim Cherry. Ms. Atkinson and our school board should do their homework and study what the Jim Cherry era was all about. They sure have no clue on how a school system should operate.
lastminutemom June 11, 2012 at 08:52 PM
At one time, DeKalb County was a solidly middle class and better county. It is not now and will probably never be again. The tax digest is probably forever damaged. The areas that have seen a steep decline will most likely never recover -- at least in our lifetime. DeKalb County has to make deep cuts in spending, and that includes FSC.
dianne joy June 11, 2012 at 09:03 PM
In reply to all the comments about fernbank SC--it's elimination is a symptom of the squandering of our tax dollars. This is not about what should be cut or saved--this is about getting them to admit where the money has gone. They could fund fernbank and the pre K for years if they had not amassed such huge legal fees and supported unethical construction contracts and things that have not been discovered. This system was distinguished by its pre K program but now where is it? My son attended the STT program at Fernbank for an entire quarter. It was outstanding. It gave gifted children a chance to be in a unique classroom setting. He is also a Georgia Tech grad. Our school system abuses our tax dollars--it need an overhaul. I thought that is what Ms. Atkinson came to lead. I am extremely disappointed that she seems to be continuing the past corrupt administrations lead of ignoring the children and the system that supports them. 11 people making $160k in the Central Ofiice? That is $1,760,000--ONE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED SIXTY THoUSAND DOLLARs for 11 people and those ARE NOT the top two spots!!!! Outrageous! How many teachers and assistant principals would that support? You don't cut educational needs to support isolated positions with those sort of salaries. Those jobs should be on the list--not FSC or pre K or any other educational program.
Sheila Ward June 11, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Fernbank Science Center utilizes its square footage inside and out for instructional purposes. We aren't in the museum business. Our exhibit hall, planetarium, observatory and gardens are unique and essential to programming that incorporates these facilities. FSC is not only about field trips to us. Our instructors go out into the schools - touching as many students as possible. We have increased 'in school programs' in the last several years. FSC staff realizes the status of the budget. We are willing to give to help the school system and students that we are dedicated to and continue to serve. It is the depth of the cuts that Superintendent Atkinson has asked for. And the way in which the information was relayed.
Tom June 11, 2012 at 11:44 PM
I couldn't agree with you more!
prettyflower June 12, 2012 at 12:10 AM
They're not on the school board?

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