CCAC withdraws proposal to close campus day-care centers

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Child care centers run by Community College of Allegheny County that faced closure next month won a reprieve Thursday at least until January 2015 while campus leaders explore ways to reverse enrollment and financial losses.

College leaders, including trustees chairwoman Amy Kuntz, announced the decision as the board met on CCAC's Allegheny campus. A working group will seek ways to increase center efficiency and plug a $300,000 operating shortfall, perhaps by increasing fees charged to parents that are below market rate and expanding the client base.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Wednesday that trustees were being asked to vote on closing the centers by Dec. 16. They date to the college's founding four decades ago.

But the proposal was tabled after the faculty union met with administrators Thursday morning.

A number of CCAC students who have children attended the meeting, as did staff, and expressed support for the facilities, saying the care given is exceptional and that research shows parents in college do better academically when they have access to campus child care.

"We have tough decisions to make with budget challenges. We have multiple needs of our students. This is one of them," Ms. Kuntz said. "We're at a point where we're prioritizing those needs and we have to look at the number of students we can help with any service."

The centers -- on CCAC's Allegheny, Boyce, North and South campuses -- hold about 150 children, but by this fall enrollment was down to 68. Officials said the drop is due partly to enrollment declines at CCAC.

John Dziak, faculty union president, said closing the centers runs counter to CCAC's mission. "We're a student-centered institution. Everything we do should be to ensure their success," he said.

Ms. Kuntz said the closure proposal was tabled to ensure all options were properly vetted, including a possible second request for proposals from outside firms to run the centers.

"I feel much better," said Beth Jones, 28, a nursing student from Bethel Park, whose 3-year-old son, Mason, attends the South campus center.

Also Thursday, Ms. Kuntz said CCAC hopes to name it next president by December's end. She said finalists coming to campus later this month will be publicly identified, saying she has no evidence the practice has discouraged top candidates from applying.

Bill Schackner: bschackner@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG.


Bill Schackner: bschackner@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG. First Published November 7, 2013 4:00 PM

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