By JENNA GIBSON, Ranger Reporter:
On Feb. 28, there was a unanimous vote at the Board of Regents meeting to pass and establish the Amarillo College Medi Park campus and begin operation of the former Hagy Center for young children as an additional AC child care and child development lab setting. The new campus will be located near the Don Harrington Discovery Center on Streit Drive.
The Amarillo Area Foundation is leasing the Medi Park building to Amarillo College for $1 rent a year. The lease will last three years (36 months) and automatically renew after the three-year mark.
The new center will benefit students and the Amarillo area, according to AC officials. It will hold about 75 to 85 children in a partnership with AC students, Bivins nursing home and the Northwest hospital.
“I am absolutely thrilled that the college will have a new opportunity to serve our adult students through Medi Park Campus. Many students have to complete labs, practicums and clinicals according to the hours needed at a program, doctor’s office or the hospital that are longer than just 8 – 5. This new program will start early and stay open longer so that our students and others who work in the Medi Park area can have child care,” Mary Clare Munger, department chair of education/child development, said.
“It’s been a long time coming and this is going to be awesome,” Jay Barrett, Amarillo College regent and principal of AACAL, said.
AC officials said that providing additional child care should help boost AC graduation rates since lack of child care is a common barrier to student success. The new facility will also offer new jobs for student workers and additional internship settings.
Along with the existing Child Development Lab School on the West Campus, the new center will provide classroom and lab settings for academic students who are studying child care and early education, said Munger. The Medi Park Campus is “win-win,” she said.
Munger said she also hopes to partner with West Texas A&M University and Texas Tech pediatrics to create further educational opportunities.
Although AC students will receive child care for reduced rates, the new venture has the potential to earn money. Steve Smith, vice president of business affairs, said, “This is better than breakeven. This will not be a huge boon for the college but it will be revenue positive.”
The things we engage in have to support the college and this will,” Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, AC president, said.
The Amarillo Area Foundation will help cover the cost of remodeling the facility. Renovations will begin in the next few months with a soft opening to take place in June and July. Doors will officially open around August.