Due to OCPS rezoning, an elementary school and mentorship outlet for Rollins students will shut down.
Just over a month ago, the news broke that Fern Creek Elementary, a school very dear to the Rollins community, would be closing its doors in the next few years. The college and the elementary school have sustained a long-term relationship through mentorship, donations, and other volunteer activities. Fern Creek has long been known as a sort of haven for many of its students, the majority of whom live below the poverty line, and anywhere from 20 to 25 percent of the students are homeless.
According to Nancy Robbinson, member of the Orange County School Board and representative of District 6 (under which Fern Creek falls), this is a matter of geography. The Parramore neighborhood is currently split between eight different school districts, and 200 children are bussed into Fern Creek alone. Redistricting will unify the Parramore neighborhood which, along with Baldwin Park, will both have brand new elementary schools opening in fall of 2017. With the new schools open, Fern Creek would only be left with about 165 students, which is not fiscally feasible.
When asked what would happen with the Fern Creek property, Robbinson remarked that “OCPS would still own it,” and that they would possibly repurpose the facility to meet other needs. According to Robbinson, “That will be determined at a later date.”
Fern Creek currently boasts one of the largest mentorship programs in the county, and a large portion of the mentors are current Rollins students. The destiny of this program after the closing of Fern Creek is undetermined at the moment. The OCPS board member guessed that, if Rollins were to continue with the mentoring program, it would take place at the new K-8 school in Parramore, since mentors have been primarily focused on students from that area.