Friends Ask APS to Commit Funds for Replacement Projector

Friends' President Jennifer Bartlett wrote to the Arlington County School Board today asking them to follow through on their proposal to allocate $220,000 in year-end funds toward the purchase of a new projection system for the David M. Brown Planetarium. The School Board is expected to vote on this matter at their January 20 meeting. Prompt action is necessary to allow sufficient time for the system to be purchased and installed before the Planetarium is scheduled to re-open this Fall. Please let the School Board know that you too support this critical purchase.

Click here for the full text of the letter sent on behalf of the Friends.

The Arlington County Public Schools (APS) purchased the existing projection system in 2011 with funds raised by the Friends. Although that system has served our students and community well, computer technology is constantly improving and older hardware becoming obsolete. Because it has reached the end of its expected life, the manufacturer will no longer maintain it. Therefore, APS needs to replace the old projector with current equipment capable of running state-of-the-art programs. Given the supply chain realities affecting so many industries, APS should place their order before the end of January 2022 so that the system will be functional when school starts in August 2022.

The Planetarium serves approximately 25,000 students annually. An up-to-date projection system is key to providing these children with engaging and inspiring educational experiences that support their science classes.

The Letter of Agreement between APS and the Friends acknowledges that the 2011 projection system needs to be replaced. Although APS controls the choice of system and its final specifications, the Friends agreed to contribute money towards to purchase. The Friends have already begun raising funds to cover our share of this amazing community resource. Now, the Friends want APS to commit its share to prevent delays in re-opening the Planetarium.

The Planetarium remains closed through summer 2022 while construction continues at the former Education Center. While not the focus of the construction efforts, the Planetarium will benefit from improved climate control and internet access as well as asbestos remediation in the entrance corridor.