UM’s Child Study Center to remain open next year

Posted April 15, 2009, at 7:19 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine’s Child Study Center will have one year’s reprieve after it faced a threat of closure due to budget cuts.

Kevin Duplissie, the center’s head teacher, said he heard Monday evening — the day before the center held a party to celebrate its 70th anniversary — that the center will remain open for the 2009-2010 school year, although parents will have a tuition increase.

“It was a great relief both for the program itself and for the parents who will know we’ll be here for the children,” Duplissie said.

Last week, Jeff Hecker, UMaine dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said the center could be eliminated as UMaine looks to cut $8.8 million from its budget for the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Hecker was out of town Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

The center’s budget is $90,000, $80,000 of which is for salaries and benefits.

Duplissie declined to say what the increase would be because numbers have not been finally determined yet.

In addition to the tuition increase, Duplissie said some parents pledged enough money to keep the school open. He declined to reveal that number before he could notify parents.

He did say at least 40 e-mails of support for the center went to different department heads on campus.

“Parents have been coming in and saying thank you to me,” Duplissie said. “I turn around and say thank you to them, because the parents quickly got together and organized.”

Had the center closed this year, parents were worried they wouldn’t have enough time to find a new preschool for the coming academic year.

Now, Duplissie said, the center faces the challenge of raising funds to keep its doors open for the foreseeable future. The center will work with the university’s development and endowment offices to identify fundraising opportunities.

During the week the center serves 42 children from 35 families. One-third of those families include parents who are students at UMaine, another third are employee families, and the final third are families in the general public.

The center also instructs 30 students in UMaine’s psychology program who conduct research and learn about childhood development.

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