Editor’s Note: This is an update on a story that I wrote in February. Click here to read that piece.
Whatcom Community College will continue its 39-year-old parenting education program, which is affiliated with five cooperative preschools in Whatcom County.
The program had been on the chopping block earlier this year as the college grappled with how to keep it going while waiting to hear whether the state would cut WCC’s budget yet again.
The program had cost WCC about $100,000 a year, primarily for faculty.
In it, parents learn parenting skills, leadership skills and how to run the preschools that their children attend.
To keep the program alive, its faculty — four parenting educators — proposed cuts, mainly to their salaries and benefits, to reduce the annual cost to $40,000 a year starting in spring.
By doing so, they hoped to convince college administrators to keep the program going beyond this school year and, by practical extension, the preschools open.
Their effort was successful, with college officials saying the program will remain alive.
WCC has not been alone. The presidents of other community and technical colleges in the state with such programs also are struggling with how to keep their parenting education programs going given the cuts in funding they have experienced in recent years.
Each year, the program serves about 140 families, many of whom have two or three children enrolled in the preschools, which are for 3- to 5-year-olds.
When parents enroll their children in the preschools, the parents themselves are enrolled in parenting education classes through Whatcom Community College — at a cost of $42 per quarter for a three-credit class.
By comparison, a three-credit class normally costs about $300.
The presidents of other community and technical colleges are considering whether they can raise the tuition amount.
That decision is expected this summer and shouldn’t affect students for the 2012-13 school year, said Kris Smith, coordinator of the parenting education program.
If those statewide guidelines affect the program in Whatcom County, administrators will work with teachers and families to ensure the service for enrolled students isn’t disrupted and to create a long-term strategy for the program, according to Mary Vermillion, spokeswoman for Whatcom Community College.
Lynden Co-op Preschool open house May 2
The Lynden Co-op Preschool is having an open house for prospective families 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday, May 2.
The open house will be at Lynden United Methodist Church, 500 N. 14th St., where the preschool uses classrooms and a play area.
The preschool is affiliated with Whatcom Community College’s parenting education program.
Preschool and pre-kindergarten programs, for kids ages 3 to 6 years old, are offered.
For more information, call 360-961-3998 or go to lyndenco-oppreschool.com.