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 the Fernbank Science Center in Druid Hills have started online petititons to save it from being closed because of budget cuts 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, which is located around a 20-minute drive from the Lilburn area down U.S. 78, is different from the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, the place with the dinosaurs bones, which is not 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. According to the board of education's web site, among the Stone Mountain-Redan schools in Bowen's District 6 are Stephenson and Stone Mountain high schools; Freedom, Stephenson and Stone Mountain middle schools; and Hambrick, Eldridge L. Miller, Pine Ridge, Redan, Rockbridge, Stone Mill and Stone Mountain elementary schools, and Wynbrooke and Champion theme schools. Womack's District 4 includes Stone Mountain Middle School and Smoke Rise Elementary, the site says.
Eugene Walker, Jesse “Jay” Cunningham and Donna Edler are in support. Stone Mountain-Redan schools in Edler's District 7 include Allgood, Dunaire, Woodridge elementary schools; Redan Middle School; and Redan High School.
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.
This article appeared in Decatur Patch.