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Marine Science Center loses funding
POULSBO It seems one Liberty Bay educational institution simply cant catch a break.
The Poulsbo Marine Science Center, an aquarium with a set of classrooms and a floating lab for area students, saw $100,000 in much-needed state funding pulled after Gov. Christine Gregoires Tuesday veto.
The funding was originally passed in the legislative budget session, though an additional $40,000 to fund a life-support system for an aquarium tank was not included.
This isnt the first time the center has faced dire financial straights. It first closed in February 2005 because of funding shortfalls, but was reopened in September 2007 after a few dedicated volunteers worked to refurbish its interior.
The state invested $100,000 for the floating lab, which is now nearly finished, and gave the center $150,000 for two years of operation, meaning the aquarium can still function through June 2009.
But more is needed to develop the centers educational curriculum, and Marine Science Center board President Bruce Harlow said now the process of looking for financial help elsewhere must begin.
Well just have to roll up our sleeves and figure out if theres alternate sources of funding, he said. Its really time to sit down and talk with the board and the city and the supporters weve had and see what might be done.
While he expressed disappointment at the funding loss, he assured the center will not be closing any time soon. The key now is to find finances to keep the center open past June 2009, and to find resources to develop the curriculum, which was originally slated to begin this coming fall.
As school budgets grow tighter and the need for math- and science-based learning heightens, Harlow said finding a way to make the curriculum a reality is of utmost importance, as one of the centers main focuses is to support area school districts and introduce kids to the water and wildlife in Liberty Bay.
I think its terribly important, theres no doubt about it, he said. Its desperately needed to enhance science education and appreciation of the environment.
Twenty-third Legislative District Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) also placed an emphasis on the need for supplemental science learning.
Here was a hands-on way of doing that, she said. It should have been a priority because were trying to get kids interested in what science and math can do.
She said a hard battle was fought to net funding for the center, and shell continue it again next year. Though she understands Gregoires attempts to decrease deficits, Appleton said the funding loss is a disheartening one.
Thats not going to stop me from going back next year and trying once again, she said. Ive got to keep trying because its that important a program, so well just keep trying in hopes that it will resonate with people.
Gregoire also vetoed funds for Kitsap County Health Districts Welcome Home Baby program, which totaled $155,000.
Both, Appleton said, are of great importance to the Kitsap community.
Its disappointing. More than disappointing, its devastating, she said.
For more information on the Marine Science Center, visit www.poulsbomsc.org. The center is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.