A Charter School Undiscovered

The charter school was swallowed up by two bigger fish: the historic Everglades Restoration Project, for which the museum will be the exclusive educational outlet; and the ill-fated downtown aquarium project, whose educational programs -- and $4.4 million in state money -- the museum absorbed.

With those big projects converging in 1999, museum leaders decided to rethink the ambitious expansion plan begun by the museum's former president, Barry Rosen, who resigned in June.

Not just the charter school, but Rosen's whole expansion was on the table for board review, Levinson said. In the end, the board decided to focus on the Everglades and aquarium projects and leave the charter school behind.

Rosen, who now heads a science museum on Hilton Head Island, S.C., was philosophical about the school's demise. "I felt strongly about the school, but I'm not there anymore," Rosen said.

Rosen is busy growing a young museum as president of the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island -- a 5-year-old museum with a $1 million annual budget. He was hired to lead the museum's expansion, following the gift of 69 acres and a former plantation with 11 buildings, which the museum plans to restore. His new role is similar to the one he played for five years at the Museum of Discovery and Science.

Though Rosen left almost 10 months ago, the museum board is still interviewing candidates to replace him. Timing is not so important as making the right decision, Levinson said. He said no deadline is set for hiring a new president. Museum Vice President Betsy Hennings took on the duties of interim president, and Fort Lauderdale lawyer Steve Josais has spent the past three months helping Hennings run the museum.

The next president of the Museum of Discovery and Science should be "a consolidator, who can maintain the energy level and creative level," Rosen said.

With his new museum, the thought crossed Rosen's mind that he might be able to revive the charter school idea on Hilton Head.

But not yet.

The school is not as great a priority as reaching middle school students in need of exciting science and math programs, Rosen said. One reason for the science-focused charter school in Fort Lauderdale was because middle school is when science test scores often take a dive. The only other science-based charter school opened January in West Palm Beach.

"That grade level is something I want to work with very much," Rosen said. "Whether we develop a school on-site or [museum] programs, we will have a good middle school program. It's an absolute necessity for museums to be working on that."

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Source : http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2000-03-30/news/0003300121_1_charter-school-board-museum-school

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