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Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007 | As I wrote in a letter last week, and as seen in the fine article by Ms. Alpert, readers will remember the Children’s Museum Board is to make a decision on Wednesday, Nov. 14, whether to allow The Museum School to enter the empty classrooms designed for them by renowned architect Rob Wellington Quigley.
The highly paid staff of experienced fund raisers, and a few members that are new to the board, have brought in PR heavy tactics to paint a different picture of their exposed plan to jettison The Museum School. The Director contends she has bent over backwards in trying to find a solution to the problem the school is to them – problems that they, the Museum Board, created. In a nutshell: The Children’s Museum and The Museum School left their old site to await the design and development of a new 21st Century building that was to house both the Museum and School. But a new Director, under the direction of a new President, and a few other board members at the Museum suddenly had the idea to: “let’s tell the school they can’t move back with us to the building long promised them.” Though citizens have come out in favor of The Museum School, including the U-T editorial last Friday, calling on the board to let the school back in their home, there still is a powerful few with other plans for the space, who refuse to give up. The Director and Board President ran some new numbers by the school parents last week that show the School costs the Museum money. That wouldn’t be a shock to anyone but them. But they have to look at cost/benefit ratio with a clearer lens. They are going to pay more on salary and commissions to fund raisers and direct mailers, this year alone, than was paid to the teaching staff in the entire 10 years of the school’s existence. The Museum has lost sight of the vision of its founders, and most of the financial supporters, including the students’ families, over the years. They are moving from a look, feel, & think hands-on/take your shoes off experience— to a look, be quiet, don’t touch/pay more here social vanity exhibit.
The Museum School kids want all the kids of the community to come and have a fun day at The Museum, just like they did in the past. And this new location is where kids will come away realizing the benefits of having a school designed with recycled materials and solar heating and air cooled systems, where great teachers give their precious time to each student and guest in order to make their day at school or visit to the museum a memorable one.
The foes of The Museum School have tried to push the blame on former museum staff and inactive former board members, as well as last year’s $60,000 cost for the school. That sum is less than what the Museum will pay to consultants for work their staff should be able to do. They have entered into secret and exclusive contracts with no public involvement or review that will cost the Museum millions of dollars over the next several years, all to make this ‘new’ Children’s Museum a private profitable personal playground for a select few. Ask them yourself. And when they deny this, ask them to show you the books. Sorry, the books aren’t open.
The new building is a masterpiece of glass that will allow the light in. The new Board and Director would be wise to take a cue from this architecture, and let the light in on their secret misguided dealings. The School deserves and expects to begin some movement into their new home before the end of the year. Only a few members want to keep them out. If they are successful, and at this point it sadly looks as if they will be, the award-winning school will go down without the benefit of a fair hearing. This isn’t how it was supposed to be. It’s unfair.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have the Museum School home for the Holidays?
If you know any of the thousands of donors to the Children’s Museum, or any of the dozen active Board members, call them and urge them to stand up for The Museum School, and bring The Museum School back home. Only a few hours left to act, so please do what you can now.
The Museum School is holding their annual Friends and Family Night at 211 Maple Street on Thursday evening, November 15, beginning at 5:30.
Please come and show your support for the students and learn the outcome of the boards vote. We can’t promise you good news. But we can promise you and your family a good time. See you there! Thanks for listening.