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Aquarium Funding Expansion Approved

Funding to expand the Cabrillo High School Aquarium approved by a state budget committee.

In reviewing the budget for the next fiscal year, a two-house conference committee approved $350,000 for the expansion, said Sen. Jack O'Connell, D-Santa Barbara.

"This is the last significant hurdle before the governor's desk," he said. "I am pleased with the sensitivity shown by the committee to the youth and the education needs of our area."

"The governor in this state enjoys the use of a 'blue-pencil,' which means he can delete or reduce any funding requests put before him. Now it is time to let Governor Wilson know how important this aquarium is to the city of Lompoc and its youth."

Earlier this spring, O'Connell earmarked the funding in the Senate's version of the budget for the 1997-98 fiscal year, he said. He did this after receiving a funding request from Alice Milligan of Lompoc. When the financing did not get approved by the state Assembly, it was placed on the conference committee's agenda.

The state funding will add to local donations and grants to finance construction and equipment for the aquarium's expansion and educational enhancement, he noted. The committee's approval is expected to go before the Assembly and Senate for adoption this month as part of the budget's spending plan. It them moves to the governor for his signature.

The aquarium opened in 1986. If offers an environmental education program to students and the public, and is a window to the sea, he said. The facility includes a marine science laboratory, aquarium, hands-on learning and computer access on-line. The latter allows people from around the state to gather locally obtained information on marine life.

Local, state and national officials have recognized the learning center, he said. It has received awards from the following: United States President's Environmental Youth; California School Boards Association Golden Bell; and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo's People's Choice.