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Fern Creek Elementary School is AWESOME! Fern Creek Elementary School is about to be closed

February 12, 2014

FCextNoPoleRedPerhaps you’ve heard rumblings about the imminent closure of beloved local elementary school Fern Creek Elementary recently. We have, too! Which is weird, because it was only recently that we found ourselves at a “listening tour” there shaking hands with Gov. Rick Scott (because, you know, poor kids); also, it wasn’t too long ago that the New York Times profiled the school and its admirable handling of a largely impoverished student population. FERN CREEK IS AN AMAZING PUBLIC SCHOOL!

So, tonight it was confirmed by Orange County Public Schools Area Superintendent Bill Gordon and board member Nancy Robbinson that the lauded school will be closed in either 2017 or 2019 – depending on the potential cashflow from a sales tax increase to grease the demolition wheels – in favor of finally killing the desegregation order and putting the rich white kids in Baldwin (er, Audubon) Park and the poor black kids in Parramore (er, “Downtown”) K-8 establishments that have yet to be built. Hilariously, Robbinson, at a meeting held tonight in Fern Creek’s auditorium,  would only refer to the Parramore location as “downtown” for the entirety of what ended up being a pretty contentious meeting on a rainy Wednesday. “They just won’t say Parramore,” said someone next to us.


We’ll know more next week when OCPS holds a meeting at Audubon to discuss the glories of the K-8 premise (IT KEEPS KIDS IN THEIR OWN NEIGHBORHOODS = SEPARATE BUT EQUAL), but it’s pretty alarming that there has been no discussion, no mention by the board, no Orlando Sentinel crowing, no picketing, no nothing about this matter, basically because OCPS didn’t want to talk about it publicly for the years it’s been planned. The board has budgeted $28.5 million to construct the new Audubon (BALDWIN!) location, which, as members of the audience pointed out, was almost swallowed by a sinkhole in 1975. The budget for the “Downtown” school remains unclear.

If Robbinson’s demeanor tonight was anything to go by, the school board is still into pretending the PR mess isn’t coming. “It’s 3 1/2 years away!” seemed to be the comfort call from Robbinson, who, she might add, is married to a former Fern Creek Bobcat (er, Bulldog – edit), so she totally knows the fight song. We’ll be following this story closely, so stay tuned – there are so many underlying issues here.  But just know that Fern Creek Elementary, which just formed a partnership with Rollins College a few years ago and was just gifted an A/V room by the Blue Man Group, is soon to be history, and (ha ha ha), could possibly be taken over by a charter school thanks to Florida law, something even Gordon and Robbinson made “can’t be sure?” faces at.

We give up.


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  • Concerned Citizen

    My heart is breaking. Fern Creek is like no other school. They do an amazing job with their students! Many, many, many years when I was in high school, I volunteered at Fern Creek and was amazed by the love in the building. The teachers and staff members there are more than just workers. They are warm hugs, smiling faces, and encouraging words for children who need that more than most.

  • Mick Dolan

    The most important question is what is really going to happen to that land in a very desirable location?

  • Shell

    I was at Audubon Elem when the sinkhole ate the cafeteria- and guess where we finished out the school year? Fern Creek Elementary! I can’t believe they want to close the classic neighborhood school. Audubon Park II is a brand new 2 story in Baldwin Park – will they rename that “Baldwin Park Elem?” The original school site has been temp facilities while Aloma, Lakemont and Brookshire have been rebuilt. So, what will they call this new school? Audubon Classic?

  • Former student

    This is terrible. Some of the best times of my life were at this school. I can’t believe it…

  • Michelle Fink Messina

    idiot reporter … Since WHEN did we become Bobcats????? All my 3 older
    sisters and I attended this school from the 60s through the 80s, and
    our parents, still to this day, live a block away. We have always been
    the BULLDOGS, and I still have a FERNCREEK BULLDOGS t-shirt from the 80s
    … Not to mention, there’s a BULLDOG right on the front of the school
    in the pic!!! … Just sayin’

  • bouledoux

    There is not one parent I have ever talked with or read their thoughts in print, that was in favor of their children being bussed across town in EITHER direction, west to east or east to west when they could look out their kitchen window and see the convenient neighborhood school.

  • Frank

    This whole bussing across town thing is stupid anyway. Let the kids go to school in the neighborhood they live in. Let’s not waste money on things that are not needed.

  • Lynn

    This is horrible. Is there anything that can be done about this? It doesn’t make sense to close a perfectly good school. Why do they need to have these children go to school in Baldwin Park. It’s very difficult for children to change schools.

  • amandamore

    They made a lot of mistakes in the past. But must we- today- repeat them? Audubon is- get ready for this- built over an -arsenic cattle dip. It is a developer tradition and any set aside land for new development schools at Horizon West will do the same thing. So now we are going to dig Audubon Elementary up again, not go through true toxic remediation, and -be sure- to expose hundreds of kids. A thimbleful of arsenic kills a 5 year old. I have been attempting to move Nap Ford from over its superfund site loaded with Arsenic but have failed. Will I fail at this and have to drive by poisoned children? Is anyone running for school board?

  • amandamore

    Mark my words. Even though this lyin school board chair-said- pulling kids into charters will not close schools. it just did. And mark my words. This school building will become a charter. And not open to the neighborhood kids.