by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Waubonsee Community College will discontinue its Magnet Place preschool program when the current semester ends this month, and some parents aren’t happy about it.
The community college will eschew the Magnet Place because it believes the preschool no longer serves one of the purposes it was initially created for: to function as a lab for the college’s early childhood education program. However, WCC will continue to have a childcare program.
“There are a number of other local preschool options, and over the years, the students in our early childhood education program really began to get their internship experiences in a variety of different settings and were often times interning off campus,” said Jeffrey Noblitt, director of marketing and communications at Waubonsee. “In terms of the educational value of having a preschool, (it) became less of a necessity for our early childhood education program.”
Kathleen Spayer, whose child attends Magnet Place, said she wasn’t told about the discontinuation of the preschool program until late March/early April.
“We were all disappointed to find out (about the discontinuation), and the teachers were also surprised,” Spayer said. “My daughter has only been there since January, so for her to only be here for a few months and then have to change, that’s hard for little kids.”
Spayer said Waubonsee was less than receptive to parents who voiced their disappointment with the short notice of the program discontinuation. According to her, one Waubonsee dean told the parents they were lucky the community college didn’t wait until May to tell them the news.
She also claims that parents were notified about the discontinuation of the program through Magnet Place teachers, not the community college.
“The administration never mailed anything to my home,” she said.
Noblitt, though, claims that a notice was indeed mailed out to parents.
“I know for a fact that a parent notification letter went out,” he said.
Spayer is now concerned with having to pay more for a different preschool program in the area, as Magnet Place provided both a high quality and affordable program.
“I have since located another program for my daughter, and it’s not in Sugar Grove,” she said. “The other two programs in Sugar Grove, I can’t afford (them). We were paying $400 a semester for Waubonsee, and now we’re talking about at least that a month. (One preschool) is a couple hundred a week.”
Noblitt said he hadn’t priced out the different preschool options in the area.
“I know that for years Waubonsee has offered a very affordable preschool, but (this decision) comes down to refocusing on our core mission, which is to provide two-year degrees and certificates,” he said. “Offering a preschool program is not directly in line with that core mission, but providing childcare to help students achieve those goals, is directly in line (with our core mission).”
Spayer remains disappointed with how Waubonsee handled the situation, but said she has found a preschool that is a reasonable alternative to the Magnet Place program.
“My fear is gone, because I’ve since found somewhere that has an opening that we can afford, and it seems like a good program for my daughter,” she said.
And as for Spayer’s hard feelings towards Waubonsee?
“My initial disgust has started to die down,” she said.