News that Langley College will close Aug. 31 came as a shock to Aldergrove resident Stacey Fleming and her fellow students.
Fleming, a busy mother of three, has been working toward her certificate in early childhood education part-time at the college for about two years.
The program trains students for a career working in daycare or preschools, Fleming explains.
“We’re working with the children before they enter the school system.”
The 28-year-old college in Langley has a good reputation.
It was recently given an excellent rating by the Private Career Training Institutions Agency (PCTIA), the provincial government body that audits privately-owned learning institutions in B.C.
On Saturday (May 14), Fleming and her classmates were informed the college will close August 31.
An e-mail from college director of instruction Claire Guy said the decision “arises as a result of Board of Education’s decisions regarding their budget deliberations for the 2011-12 year.”
That is a reference to the $13.5 million deficit that the Langley School District has to pay back over the next four years.
School district spokesperson Craig Spence said funding for the college adult education program was cut because it was outside the central focus of “K-to-12” programs.
“It’s a tough decision,” Spence said.
He stressed the district is working to make arrangements with other colleges so students will be able to complete their studies.
“It is looking very positive that we will have workable options for you as early as next week,” Spence said in an e-mail to be sent to the 250 full- and part-time students from Langley, Abbotsford and Surrey affected by the shutdown.
Most full-time students will be able to finish their studies by the end of August, but part-timers like Fleming will not.
She has at least a year left to go in her part-time studies, and she has yet to hear anything specific from the college.
“All we’ve been told is ‘we’re looking into options,’” she said.
Fellow student Amanda Mercer, an Abbotsford resident, said the college and students are not responsible for the budget overrun by the Langley school district.
“So now we have to suffer?” Mercer told The Times.
Langley resident Tanya Drury wonders where student academic records will be kept for prospective employers to check.
“There are students who just started this course,” Drury said. “It’s shameful.”
Student Jocelyn Veer, a Langley resident, wrote a letter to the district calling the decision “irresponsible” and complaining the district should have given the college more warning.
Veer said the funding cuts should be postponed a year.
A Nov 8, 2010 review of Langley College by the PCTIA said the “the audit team has determined that students are receiving excellent Early Childhood Education and Health Care Assistants career training in a well-equipped and well-managed educational facility” adding that the audit team “was impressed with the high level of professionalism, dedication, and team spirit evident amongst the staff and students of Langley College.”
Langley College is a private institution, which has received funds from the school district to offer certain adult education programs.