With Jefferson Community College's first dorm building opening this fall, space in their already cramped library is about to get tighter. That is why the college has wanted to construct a new learning center there. Our Elizabeth Jeneault tells us about JCC's push for the project's final portion of funding.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- For more than six years, Jefferson Community College has wanted to construct a new learning center. The building would replace the college's current library and have space for services like tutoring, counseling and advising.
Last fall, JCC was able to secure funding for half of the $14 million project. Once they got the county's backing, they expected state support to swiftly follow.
"In the past, once a community college had the support of their local sponsor the state piece was much more perfunctory. It sort of just came. It seemed to just happen," said JCC's President Carole McCoy.
But as state funding has been cut back, support hasn't been as easy to get.
Something the college realized when the Governor released his proposed budget in January and funding for the project wasn't included.
"That was a huge blow, so we've been working with our local assembly persons as well as our state senator, in fact anywhere we can in Albany, to advocate for our project," said McCoy.
Some of that work has paid off, as the assembly has included the remaining portion of the project's funding in its proposed budget. Now, the trick is to get the funds included in the final budget.
It has been a struggle that JCC's president says many other schools can also relate to.
"There are actually thirteen community college projects that each have a local sponsor, that have a commitment from the sponsor to pay their half, and were not included in the state budget," said McCoy.
A widespread issue, that the college hopes to overcome this year.
But if not, they say they'll continue to fight.
"Worst case it doesn't get funded this year, we're back at it for next. That's what we'll be doing," said McCoy.
If the project were to be included in the final budget, JCC says they'd get to work immediately.
Final design plans would need to be drawn up before it could go out to bid.
All wishful thinking at this point for a college that says their current library facility is simply out of date and too small for its rising enrollment numbers.
The college originally planned for its learning center to open at the same time as its new residence halls.