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Online Petitions Started To Save Fernbank Science Center

A DeKalb School board committee suggested pulling funding for the science center in an effort to close a $73 million budget gap.

Supporters of in Druid Hills have started online petititons to save it from being closed because of budget cutting by the DeKalb County Board of Education.

It’s unclear who started the petitions, but many parents and supporters of the science center have been vocal on the Save Fernbank Science Center Facebook page and local blogs.

Read the Dekalb County Board of Education: Save Fernbank Science Center petition here.

The Save Fernbank Science Center! petition is available here.

DeKalb school board members are working to plug a $73 million gap in the system’s budget, and a committee recommended Thursday an additional $17.5 million in cuts that includes closing the science center.

These recommendations came after a budget was tentatively approved on Tuesday that includes $44.5 million in cuts and layoffs but relied on a tax increase some board members oppose.

(Editor's note: The Fernbank Science Center is different from the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, the place with the dinosaurs bones, and Fernbank Elementary School. Neither of those is closing.)

The Atlanta Journal Constitution polled eight of the nine board members about the 2-mill tax increase.

Tom Bowen, Nancy Jester, Don McChesney, Pam Speaks and Paul Womack oppose the tax increase.

Eugene Walker, Jesse “Jay” Cunningham and Donna Edler are in support.

Sarah Copelin-Wood could not be reached for comment

Fernbank Science Center

The district spends about $4.7 million to operate the Fernbank Science Center and pay 56 full-time employees.

The center, which includes a museum and planetarium, offers hands-on education about animals and planets to about 160,000 school children and visitors each year.

School board Chairman Eugene Walker told the AJC he opposes closing the center.

“It’s a great educational opportunity for students that are interested in science,” he said.

A public hearing to talk about the additional cuts proposed by the budget commitee is scheduled for Wednesday, May 30, at 6 p.m. at district headquarters, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain.

What’s your take — should the district consider closing the center to save money? Tell us in the comments!

Jane May 29, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Fernbank Science Center consumes millions of science education dollars while our science achievement is the lowest in the metro area (with the exception of Clayton Schools). Fernbank employs five non teaching Exhibit Designers and one Cabinetmaker that cost $500,000 in salary and benefits while the entire science equipment and supply budget for the 95,000 student taught science every day in the regular education classrooms is $50,000 (50 cents a year per student). This center needs $2,000,000 in renovations to bring it up to date. The forest is now gone as the lease reverted to the Fernbank Museum. NASA eliminated funding the SEMAA program. Fernbank Science Center has 28 administrative and support personnel for 28 teachers. Divide $5,000,000 by 160,000 visitors and you will see that each visitor cost the school system $31.00. Shutter this moldy building and house the excellent Fernbank instructors throughout the school system where the services they provide can be accessible to more students for less cost.
bulldogger May 29, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Naw, I don't think it needs to be shuttered. DeKalb County School System needs to hire a new "finance director", er, scratch that, I don't think the person in that position presently knows anything about finance......hire a "finance director" who actually knows how to manage tax money and will stand up to an administration that thinks there is an infinite supply of citizens who don't mind throwing their hard earned money down the toilet.
contented-NOT May 29, 2012 at 09:55 PM
I think the Board is proposing to pluck out one of the few diamonds left in the System in order to garner our support for a tax increase to save Fernbank (and other programs that are near and dear to our hearts). I guess it is another way of continuing to spend another man's money to get out of mistakes that have been made along the years and with NO ACCOUNTABILITY. Jim Cherry is turning over in his grave!

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