• Parents face uphill battle in effort to save Fern Creek Elementary


    Channel 9 Eyewitness News was contacted by concerned parents after they learned an Orlando elementary school known for the creative way it helps low-income students could close by 2017.
    There have been a number of fundraising and coat-drive efforts to help students at Fern Creek Elementary in Orlando's Colonialtown neighborhood.         
    Channel 9's Karla Ray found out the fight to save the school may be a losing battle.
    A group fighting to stop the potential school closure has been passing out fliers to parents at the school.  
    Alisha Kearns' four daughters all attended Fern Creek, where more than 20 percent of the students are homeless. Now she's fighting to keep the school open, and to keep support for those under-served students going.
    "The Fern Creek community reaches out to different parts of our city. It helps different parts of our city and it brings in opportunity for so many students," said Kearns.
    The plan that would close Fern Creek involves adding two K-8 schools.
    One of the schools is planned for the Parramore area and is set to open in 2017.
    The second school would be built on the site of the old Audubon Park Elementary School.
    Those schools would drop the population of Fern Creek to less than 200 students.
    "It's unsustainable. It's inefficient financially and it's hard to run a school on that small of number," said Orange County School Board member Nancy Robinson.
    Robinson said that even though she and her colleagues haven't voted on the Audubon Park K-8 school, the project is already funded. She said that makes the eventual closure of Fern Creek inevitable.
    "It's a business decision and I hate that it comes down to that," said Robinson.
    Parents concerned about the Fern Creek's fate are expected to attend a work session at Tuesday's School Board meeting to ask members if there are any options left.

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