Dekalb School Board Hammers Out Budget, Spares Fernbank | WABE 90.1 FM

Dekalb School Board Hammers Out Budget, Spares Fernbank

May 30, 2012

At a called meeting last night, the DeKalb County school board developed a budget proposal for the upcoming school year. The district is facing a $73 million budget gap.

In trying to address such a huge budget shortfall, school officials say there are no good choices. Dekalb Schools’ spokesman Walter Woods says the board agreed on some key cost-saving measures.

“Increasing class sizes by one student, a one-mil increase, which is about $80/year on a $200,000 home, two additional furlough days for teachers,” Woods says, “We currently have four furlough days on the calendar; they added an additional two furlough days.”

Woods says 140 central office positions will be cut. But, he says, there won’t be teacher layoffs. And, he says, the board spared one favored institution.

“The board elected to not close Fernbank Science Center at this point,” Woods says.

Closing Fernbank would’ve saved nearly $5 million. But parents launched a social media campaign, which included online petitions, in an effort to keep it open. Dekalb parent Russell Brooks began a “Save Fernbank” crusade on Twitter and Facebook after he visited the museum last week with his second-grade son.

“His current future career is astronomer,” Brooks explains, “And I think he was partially inspired by Fernbank. And we went to kind of commemorate the last night of school, and that’s when we learned about it potentially closing.”

Brooks says he’s relieved the board opted not to close the science center.

The district will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget tonight at 6 p.m. The board will take a final vote June 11th.