Oakton set to vote on closing preschool

  • Oakton Community College officials will vote Tuesday on the closure of the Early Childhood Center in Des Plaines due to funding issues. Many parents are upset with the decision.

    Oakton Community College officials will vote Tuesday on the closure of the Early Childhood Center in Des Plaines due to funding issues. Many parents are upset with the decision. Courtesy of Mariusz Bronkowski

 
 
Updated 2/20/2017 3:45 PM

Oakton Community College's board could vote Tuesday to close the preschool on the school's Des Plaines campus, a move that would cut six jobs and force about 30 families to go elsewhere for early education.

The potential closing comes as the school continues to reduce spending amid the state's budget impasse. State lawmakers have not passed a budget for nearly two years.

 

Under the plan, the preschool and the Oakton's early childhood education academic program would be consolidated on the school's Skokie campus.

"The state budget crisis has forced the college to maximize the use of its financial resources to benefit students," Oakton President Joianne Smith wrote in a memo included with the board's meeting agenda. "Unfortunately, the college can no longer afford the luxury of subsidizing two sites to support the same academic program."

Oakton officials have said the Des Plaines preschool has cost the college $100,000 more to operate than Skokie campus site. Both locations serve about 30 children ages 3 to 5, but the Des Plaines center also enrolls 2-year-olds.

Some parents and Oakton faculty members oppose the plan. Susana Gomez, whose son attends the preschool, started an online petition against closing the Des Plaines early childhood center. The petition has nearly 500 signatures.

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"During my time as a student at the college I had observed at various childhood centers in the area," Gomez wrote in the petition. "The Des Plaines site was always my preference based on the way they not only followed policies but showed a genuine care in the children.

"I knew that in this program my child would not only receive quality care but that I could trust that he would be in a safe environment."

The board of trustees meeting is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the college's Skokie campus, 7701 N. Lincoln Ave.

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