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Access To Local Planetarium Limited Due To Small Size

The Gene Roddenberry Planetarium has transported more than a million youngsters to galaxies light years away, but one ABC-7 viewer is upset that school field trips to the planetarium are only available students attending schools in the El Paso Independent School District.

“As an educator, it makes me very sad because we want our kids to be open to everything that El Paso has to offer,” said Dolores Saucedo. She is a teacher with the Ysleta Independent School District.

EPISD officials say the planetarium simply needs more space.

“We understand there’s a big demand for people to come see our planetarium, but it only seats about 100 people,” said EPISD spokeswoman, Berenice Zubia.

It’s EPISD taxpayer money that keeps the planetarium up and running. District officials said there is not even enough room to accommodate EPISD’s 64,000 students, let alone students from other school districts or private schools.

“We only have third graders and sixth, seventh, and eight graders and sometimes we have to pick and choose which of those grades get to come to the planetarium,” Zubia said.

The next closest planetarium to El Paso is two hours away, in Alamogordo. Saucedo said taking a field trip out there would take an entire day.

“It’s ridiculous that we would have to travel that far when our planetarium is just a mile away,” Saucedo said. “If we really want our kids to strive in science and technology we need to allow El Paso Planetarium to open its doors to all of our students.”

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