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CNC's daycare saved from axe

CNC Childcare Centre supporters had to hear the college board say it four times before they allowed themselves to erupt in cheers. Since January, closing the daycare has been actively discussed as CNC staff and board members wrestled with a $1.
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CNC Childcare Centre supporters had to hear the college board say it four times before they allowed themselves to erupt in cheers.

Since January, closing the daycare has been actively discussed as CNC staff and board members wrestled with a $1.2 million cut they had to perform on their operating budget. Those deliberations came to a head on Friday at the board's annual general meeting. First, board chair Bob Murray then acting-president Bryn Kulmatycki said other options had been found to cover the cost. It wasn't until treasurer Penny Fahlman gave her report on the shortfall measures that the ovation finally broke free from the 40-or-so assembled childcare staff, union representatives, Early Childhood Education students, and children.

"There has been an awful lot of work done to keep this very valuable resource intact for the college," said Murray. "There is still more [input] coming in. This is a real community issue and there are options on the table."

The dominant one was adding summer theme-camps this year, to draw in more income. Also, steps will be taken to maximize the full amount of spaces the centre is licensed for. More innovations are also being planned to get more income from the on-site facility within CNC, which exists primarily to allow students and staff to have their children nearby during campus hours.

"We are very pleased and grateful the board saw fit to accept the business plans for the childcare centre," said Lily Bachand, president of CUPE local 4951, the union to which the childcare workers belong.

Robert Chavarie, executive director of the CNC Students' Union, said "The daycare centre at CNC provides valuable childcare services for the school and community and plays a vital component in the Early Childhood Education program at CNC. For more than 30 years, the integrated daycare/ECE centre has been an institution at CNC, paid for, in part, by students at CNC in the form of a small fee collected by the Students' Union. We have been contributing to the daycare centre for years. It would have been terrible to see it gone. Having a high-quality, accessible, childcare facility on campus is a huge service for our community."

The college's incoming president Henry Reiser said he, too, was pleased with the move.

"I really value daycare," he said. "It's an important part of life for students, for staff. This program [integrated with ECE] operates at a very high level."

Fahlman outlined a heavy dose of funding cuts for travel, non-replacement of retiring or moving staff, changes to the Career Technical Centre, and other measures to make up the shortfall. She warned, though, that more austerity would be needed in the years ahead.

The board approved the budget for the entire college at $56.1 million with a surplus of $1,428. The operating fund budget is $47.8 million with a surplus of $2,613.

"I think it's important that people understand that CNC has had to cut $9.67 million from its budget in the last seven years, which has become increasingly difficult and will not get any easier next year," Kulmatycki said.