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STLCC to Close Child Care Facilities at Forest Park, Meramec Campuses

November 20, 2009

St. Louis Community College will no longer offer on-campus childcare services at its Forest Park and Meramec campuses, effective July 1, 2010.

The college’s board of trustees approved an administrative recommendation to close the facilities at the two campuses at its monthly meeting Nov. 19. Trustees Joann Ordinachev, Robert Nelson, Denise Chachere and Melissa Hattman voted in favor of the recommendation; trustees Libby Fitzgerald and Margo McNeil opposed the measure.

“Board members have been examining this issue for many months, and the decision to close these two facilities was extremely difficult,” said Ordinachev, who serves as chair of the board. “In reviewing the overall operations of the college, and with more and more individuals seeking our services, we must put dollars toward initiatives that improve the learning outcomes and academic achievement of all our students as well as those that address evolving workforce needs.”

Two-hundred-nine students access the services at the two centers: 144 at Forest Park and 65 at Meramec. STLCC’s overall enrollment is 28,019. STLCC has provided childcare services to students, faculty and staff below market rate. Until the current year, students paid $2 per hour. Effective July 1, 2009, the fee structure for students is $4 per hour, while faculty and staff pay $5 per hour. In 2009, the college expended nearly $600,000 to subsidize the operation of these two centers. According to administration, the subsidy is not the only compelling argument for closing the two centers.

The Forest Park center is located at a leased facility with an annual lease payment of $53,400. The lease expires in June 2010. The Meramec center operates in a college-owned home. College physical facilities personnel have identified subterranean structural issues at the Forest Park center and water infiltration challenges at Meramec. The long-term use of these two facilities would require significant investment.

College operations are funded by three sources: state aid, local property taxes and student tuition. With Gov. Jay Nixon’s Nov. 20 announcement that state funding for higher education would be reduced by more than 5 percent in exchange for freezing tuition rates, coupled with no significant increase in property tax revenue, college administrators must cut more than $1 million from STLCC’s 2010-2011 operating budget.

“During this economic downturn, we have worked very closely with the board to avoid cost increases, to reduce expenditures and to improve college revenues, all of which have kept St. Louis Community College in a financially healthy position,” said Chancellor Zelema Harris. “This next year will present us with significant challenges as we manage growing enrollments with no new revenue. We have to consider the best strategies to meet the needs of all of our students, and therefore came to the conclusion that the costs versus the population of students served at these two facilities compete with other critical priorities throughout the district.”

Harris stressed that the college is making an effort to provide general information to all students about funding sources to assist with childcare costs. This information will be made available at the campuses through appropriate student services offices.