The College for Kids youth summer program, for the first time in 30 years, will not be offered at Contra Costa College.
The once self-sustaining program has not done so in recent years and with College for Kids losing funds during continuous budgetary cutbacks, the decision was made in March to suspend College for Kids for summer 2012 in lieu of CCC paying to make up the difference.
College for Kids serves students from second to 10th grades. The program offers instruction in various academic subjects including math, English, computers, science, art and drama.
Each day in College for Kids consists of two $250 sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each session consists of two classes.
The summer program lasted six weeks from June to July. However, in 2011, planning for the program began late, which not only triggered College for Kids to be cut two weeks shorter than usual, it also affected enrollment and its net profits.
“Four or five years ago, we had a reserve in College for Kids that was a little over $50,000,” Director of Business Services Mariles Magalong said. “As of last summer, (College for Kids) has a deficit of over $16,000.
“At a time like this, where we are reducing, we cannot afford to make cuts and subsidize College for Kids,” Magalong said.
Psychology assistant professor Jennifer Ounjian, College for Kids director since 2002, said in order for the program to continue in 2012, students’ families would have to pay more than they could afford.
“All I heard was that they are putting the program on hiatus,” Ounjian said. “The flier on the (college) website says they’ll bring it back next summer, but I haven’t heard anything. I don’t know if I’ll be involved in the future.”
Ounjian did not attend the March meeting when the decision was made to cancel the program’s summer session.
“(College for Kids) has been a program for kids to get a taste of what it would be like in college and to stay active academically during the summer,” Ounjian said. “Kids who have attended the program often come back when they become of age to work with the program.”
Interim CCC President Dan Henry said he accepted the recommendation for putting College for Kids on hold for a couple different reasons, including reorganizing the program, but, mainly, to appease the budget.
“We thought that time was needed to really do a good job of planning College for Kids for next summer so it would really meet the community’s needs,” Henry said. “I would hope that with enough proper planning that we will bring it back in 2013.”
College for Kids employs CCC students and Middle College High School students as well. Ounjian said College for Kids is responsible for providing many students with their first employment opportunity. MCHS is a high school located at CCC and gives its students the option of taking college courses.
Interim Dean of Students Vicki Ferguson became involved with College for Kids in March 2011. She said the program started late because of multiple transitions involving the program’s coordinators.
Focusing on moving forward, Ferguson said the goal of administration is to improve College for Kids and bring the program back in 2013.
“I believe we made the right decision to allow us time to improve programs,” Ferguson said in regards to canceling the program for 2012. “This is a perfect opportunity to seek advice from others, hear what they think and what they want (from College for Kids).”
A community poll is one of the ways Ferguson said information will be gathered to determine how to improve the program.