WINCHESTER — The Umpqua Community College board of education unanimously voted to award Maple Corner Montessori the contract to take over operations of the Ford Childhood Enrichment Center, and for the cafeteria to be integrated into the bookstore.

While Maple Corner Montessori noted in its proposal that it was willing to interview and hire people who had previously been employed at the child care center through the college. There will be no need to hire more personnel at the bookstore to help with the addition of the cafeteria, according to bookstore manager Micque Shoemaker.

In total, six people will lose their jobs at the cafeteria, with one of those being a full-time position.

Board member Joelle McGrorty was not present for either of the votes.

UCC President Debra Thatcher said the montessori school’s values lined up with the college’s, are committed to excellence, providing infant and toddler care and making UCC students and affordability a priority. Maple Corner Montessori also hopes to start a parent education initiative.

“We felt confident she had the business know-how,” Thatcher said about Maple Corner Montessori founder Leanne Jorgensen.

Maple Corner Montessori will have one classroom dedicated to tuition-paying students, while the other rooms are set aside for infant, toddler and child care.

Board member Wendy Weikum said she knew that “montessori has a high reputation” in the educational community.

During the public participation section of the meeting, FCEC employee Patricia Standley said it’s “frustrating not knowing” whether she’d have a job, but thanked the college for the way they treated her and her children over the years.

Cafeteria employees Ashleigh Akers and Steven Fair-Harrison also spoke up during public participation. Akers expressed her discontent with the administration’s communication, and her love for the cafeteria, while Fair-Harrison talked about recent changes that he had implemented.

UCC Chief Financial Officer Natalya Brown presented a new plan for the college cafeteria, which was a proposal to integrate food services under bookstore leadership into the College Store.

Under the proposed plan, bookstore staff would oversee the consolidation. Brown said the plan would eliminate financial losses in the cafeteria and increase sustainability of the bookstore.

During the May 8 board meeting, Brown made a presentation to the board with the recommendation to cut the catering program and replace the cafeteria with a micro-market inside the bookstore.

The board of directors unanimously decided to discontinue the catering program due to the cost to the college, but asked Brown to work on a different plan for the cafeteria.

While the food can be bought at the bookstore, seating will remain available in the cafeteria. The kitchen will also remain operational for community needs.

During her report to the board, Debra Thatcher noted that the Toyota T-Ten and the general automotive programs are under review due to consistently low enrollment and “exceptionally high” operating costs.

“The college is not eliminating either program at this time; however, both programs will be given one year to fully implement a recruitment and revitalization plan that includes industry partners,” Thatcher wrote in her report. “The status of both programs will be evaluated in January with a final decision made by mid-May as to whether or not to continue with either one or both programs.”

Thatcher also noted UCC also received a $1.8 million seismic rehabilitation grant from Business Oregon to help the Whipple Fine and Performing Arts Building. The goal is for the work to be done in summer 2020.

Construction on Centerstage Theatre and the roof of the Laverne Murphy Student Center are nearing completion.

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Education Reporter

Sanne Godfrey is the education reporter for The News-Review.

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