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SGA will vote on fee to save Little Bucs

Published: Sunday, January 26, 2014

Updated: Sunday, January 26, 2014 22:01

The East Tennessee State University Student Government Association will vote on implementing a $5 student fee to save the Little Buccaneers program Tuesday.

“This is a program that is so vital to our campus, it provides students with so much,” SGA Vice President Caroline Baird said. “We definitely believe that there is a necessity on this campus for Little Bucs.”

Little Buccaneers Program Coordinator Nikki Dolan said that Little Buccaneers has received $100,000 a year from the Child Care Access Means Parents in School grant for the last 11 years. This grant has helped to keep enrollment fees affordable for parents using the program. Parents pay $6 per hour for children ages 3 to 5 and $7 per hour for infants and toddlers with the help of the CCAMPIS grant. But Little Buccaneers stopped receiving the grant in September.

Dolan said that Student Affairs has helped assist child care tuition for the spring semester.

Without the grant, parents may not be able to afford the cost of child care services and the program could suffer. SGA will be voting Tuesday on a $5 per semester student fee to aid Little Bucs. With the help of the student fee, Little Bucs would receive more funds than it did from the CCAMPIS grant.

“We’re excited to think about the possibilities, we’re excited about think about even lowering the cost of tuition of what it has been in the past,” Dolan said. “Ideally, we would love to see it free, we would love to see families enroll their children here at no cost while they go to school.”

The loss of the Little Buccaneers program would not only affect parents using the program. Little Bucs provides ETSU with jobs and several departments on campus use the program for field study.

“It’s an all-encompassing program,” Baird said. “I think if we lose it, we’re going to be hurting badly.”

Grace Ghearing is a graduate student who is completing her graduate assistantship at ETSU’s child care center and enrolls her daughter in Little Buccaneers. The child care program is the reason Ghearing studies at ETSU.

“It is amazing to be able to work here, and if I couldn’t have my daughter here as well, I wouldn’t have the time to juggle and go to school and do my graduate assistantship,” Ghearing said. “Having Little Bucs for my daughter and I is completely invaluable.”

Dolan said that Little Buccaneers is involved with many other student programs, including physical therapy, speech pathology and nursing.

“It really has impacted a lot of students’ learning in a hands-on way,” she said. “They get to practice what they’re learning and they get to see a quality environment for young children.”

If the fee is not passed, parents using the program would have to pay an increase in enrollment for their children. The program is unsure of how much of an increase would be required.

“I hate the thought of denying that this is going to happen, but it’s realistic to think they may not chose to move this fee forward,” Dolan said. “We don’t even want to think about that. We’re just really, really committed to the program.”

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