The Brownsburg School Board voted Monday night to close the Challenger Learning Center, which opened in 1994 and gives students the chance to learn about science, technology, engineering and math with a more hands-on approach.
Director Mary Patterson says the board‘s decision was a budget move.
“They felt that they had just pumped enough money into the Challenger Center and with budget cuts and so forth they feel as though that money could be better used in the classroom to hire teachers to make class size smaller,” Patterson says.
In a statement, Donna Petraits, Communications Coordinator for Brownsburg Schools, confirmed those ideas, saying the CLC has incurred a $2.4 million deficit since 2002. She said the permanent staff at the CLC will have positions available to them within the district if they choose to accept them.
The Brownsburg CLC is one of many around the world. The first was created in Houston, Texas in honor of the seven astronauts killed during the launch of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986. Patterson says the idea came from family members of the astronauts who wanted to memorialize their loved ones and also create a learning experience for students.
The Brownsburg CLC will close at the end of the school year. However, Patterson says they will form a task force to try and find a partner to come on board and keep the center open.