With free admission, more Oakland students taking field trips to Chabot

Photo courtesy of the Chabot Space & Science CenterBuild it, and they will come — if you offer free admission.

As part of its business deal last year with the Oakland school district, to which it still owed $8 million for a construction loan, the Chabot Space & Science Center agreed to offer free field trips to Oakland’s public schools. (Before, it had offered a discounted rate.)

This week, Chabot’s director of institutional advancement reported that 9,655 Oakland students visited the center during the 2010-11 school year, a 35 percent jump from the year before.

UPDATE: The above figures include private school visits. For the Oakland school district alone, the increase was 41 percent — 8,759 field trip visitors in 2010-11, compared to 6,215 in 2009-10.

Robert Ade, the center’s communications and media coordinator, attributed the increased participation to the new policy. Before, he said, “It was prohibitive for some schools to even think about a field trip here.”

Ade noted that AC Transit runs a bus to the center from the Fruitvale BART station.

Watching the final space shuttle launch? If you want some company, Chabot is broadcasting NASA feeds in its megadome theater starting at 7:30 Friday morning (or whenever Florida weather permits) and will have astronomers on hand to answer questions. The event is $10 and includes an all-day pass.

NOTE: If the launch is postponed, the event will be too. Check the Chabot website before you head up the hill.

The above photo was provided by the Chabot Space and Science Center.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Yastrzemski

    Do Charters count as public schools, would they be able to bring their students?

  • limyanko

    Charter schools are not part of the OUSD contract with Chabot. They can book field trips but pay the school field trip rate ranging from $7/student-$17/student.

  • livegreen

    Chabot is fantastic. The only wish I have is that it be larger. Please first consider this and other Oakland centers of learning and non-profits first when giving to charity…

  • Steven Weinberg

    Katy, I looked back at your earlier post on this subject and it looked like the district was actually paying at least part of these admission prices by reducing the balance of the loan the Science Center owes OUSD. Am I correct, and if so how much did the district end up paying for the “free admissions”?

  • Alice Spearman

    Mr. Weinberg is partially correct. When OUSD restructured the loan for the Science Center, the free admission was part of the contract terms. I do not think that there was a reduction on balance of the loan, but an extension of the payment length. It was the insistance of the board that the free admission was included in the terms. School sites could not access the Science Center because the cost was prohibitive due to their funding, now all a sites has to do is pay for tranportation, and many times this is a prohibitive cost, but it seems that many sites were able to utilize the Center this school year. Previously there was minimal attendance by OUSD school sites.
    OUSD was responsible for previously loan which was paid off last year. Chabot Science Center now pays OUSD until the debt is cleared. Charter schools are not OUSD Schools, therefore they are not included in the terms.

  • Alice Spearman

    Excuse my spelling

  • Jim Mordecai

    The “free” admissions are deducted against the $8 million owed OUSD by Chabot Science Center.

    Here are parts of the Contract between Chabot Science Center and OUSD that fronted Chabot funding.

    Jim Mordecai

    Summer Camp Scholarship participants shall be selected by a process developed and administered by District. The names of the selected Scholarship students shall be provided to Chabot by June 1 of each calendar year.
    Other Provisions
    Chabot shall continue to provide District with teacher training workshops, astronomy and science curriculum support. Such programs shall be offered on the same basis as they are offered to any teacher participating in Chabot professional development programs.
    Chabot and its partners shall continue to provide intensive STEM based programs, such as Galaxy Explorers and Techbridge to District students, subject to program funding availability. Such programs may be modified from time to time, and such modifications shall be communicated to District.
    The Chabot Facility telescopes shall be available at no charge on Friday and Saturday nights to the District community for astronomy programs on the same basis as they are made available free to all other users. For the avoidance of doubt, free access to Chabot Facility Telescopes does not include admission to other Chabot Facility programs and exhibits.
    Chabot will submit quarterly statements of activity tracking the In-Kind Offsets, and submit them to District by not later than January 15, April 15, July 15 and October 15 of each year for the prior quarter. District shall have 30 days to review such statements. Absent any adjustments agreed upon during that 30-day period, the In-Kind Offsets for the quarter will then be credited to the balance of the Principal.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Thank you for responding, Ms. Spearman. This was the phrase in Katy’s earlier blog that I was trying to figure out: “Before this, Chabot charged Oakland students half-price for admission, Hal said. The difference will come out of Chabot’s loan balance.” Can you explain what “the difference will come out of Chabot’s loan balance” means, or was it just a mistake?

  • Corigan

    I took my class 2 weeks ago. The trip was great; planetarium a huge hit. Many of my West Oakland students had not been before. The only caveat – getting to the Fruitvale connection – that bus runs only twice daily to Chabot – and we missed the first bus by seconds. I miss the old days when school districts actually provided school buses for such excursions. Buses now are over a thousand dollars. Really?