Fernbank Museum has been in the media a lot in the past couple of days. Which is to say, one of them has. There seems to be some confusion here. That place in Decatur with the giant fossils and several floors of truly awesome exhibits, including a new one on animal “poop” is the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. The one in the news so much about being in danger of closing is the Fernbank Science Center. It has an Aerospace Education lab, Planetarium, an actual Forest for science exploration, and more. While they are geographically near each other, they are not run by the same folks.
It’s the Fernbank Science Center that is in danger of closing. It is owned and operated by the Dekalb County public school district, which is facing a reported $73 million deficit heading into the next school year. In an effort to relieve some of that debt, members of the DeKalb County school board are recommending that the Fernbank Science Center and its planetarium be closed.
GPB reported Tuesday morning that hundreds of citizens have already signed a petition to keep the facility open. (A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the school system headquarters in Stone Mountain.) An AJC survey of the school board members revealed that at least 5 (one could not be reached) of the 9 members do not want to close the science center.
Educators and parents understand the importance of occasionally leaving the classroom to fully experience a well-rounded education and to have positive life experiences that are educationally rewarding. The Fernbank Science Center provided just such an opportunity in a variety of subject areas. Dekalb County will need to get creative to eliminate such a significant financial gap.