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.
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!