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   from the issue of July 20, 2006

Child care search widens


The search to provide a new child care option for UNL faculty, staff and students has widened.

According to Chris Jackson, vice chancellor for business and finance, plans to establish a UNL child care center in the north annex of the Whittier building (22nd and W streets) have been sidelined due to increased renovation costs. However, Jackson said the search for a suitable space has not ended.

"Our focus in this search was to try and locate a new facility that was on or adjacent to City Campus," Jackson said. "We believe we exhausted everything within that small circle. Now, we are enlarging the diameter of our search."

A $1.75 million private gift was to fund the renovation of the Whittier site. However, final renovation estimates totaled $3.1 million, or $1.35 million more than available funds.

Jackson said there were four primary reasons for the increased expense.

Original plans for the building revolved around one centralizd bathroom. However, the building's layout required six separate bathroom facilities.

Jackson said the project anticipated inserting windows into bricked walls. Cost of the windows were underestimated in the project budget.

Other costs - including those for heating/air conditioning equipment and general construction - were also underestimated.

"We normally have fairly good estimates on construction projects," Jackson said. "But, I think this was the result of our passion to be successful coupled with not quite appreciating the costs and needs of a child care center."

Chancellor Harvey Perlman identified the child care facility as a priority in his 2005 State of the University address. Jackson said the need - identified as a factor in faculty/staff recruitment and student retention - has not changed.

"Child care will continue to be a major goal for the university," Jackson said. "We have been contacted about possible locations. And we are continuing to look and are open to any suggestions.

"This is a nut that we are going to crack."

Jackson said there is no specific timetable for identifying an alternative child care site at this time. She said UNL will continue the University Child Care program offered through the downtown Lincoln YWCA.

The university will also continue to work with Bright Horizons, the vendor selected to manage the new child care facility.



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