The dental assistant program at the College of New Caledonia may not skip a beat.
While the school’s board of governors voted Friday morning to suspend student intakes for the dental assistant and dental hygiene programs to balance the 2015-16 budget, the recommendation from vice-president of administration and finance Sue McAllister contained a measure of hope, which president Henry Reiser elaborated on in discussions before the vote.
“We have been in discussion with the ministry this morning, and will have possible changes to the dental assistant program. If those changes can be approved by the Education Council at its June meeting, we could have an intake into the program in September 2015.
“We need to make modifications to the dental hygiene program, but we are hoping to resume intakes there in September 2016.”
The discussion Friday was solely among board members. Outgoing chair Keith Playfair said there would be no presentations from the gallery.
“We’re not taking any presentations today. This has been a long one, with many e-mails, phone calls and meetings where people expressed their concerns over the measures we were proposing to take.
“The concerns expressed have weighed heavily on the minds of the board members.”
Faculty representative Sheldon Clare spoke against the budget motion, saying it “goes against the interests of the college and the community at large.”
“There needs to be more effort by government,” he said, “to create a better funding model. Our responsibilities go beyond the nickels and dimes and dollars of a budget, so I can not support the present motion.”
June Clark, representing Vanderhoof on the board, said she was not happy with the motion, but saw nothing else the board could do.
“Some of the decisions and trade-offs we are making are not things I like, but we’ve got to figure it out.
“We knew what the rules were when we started. I wish government would give us more money, but that doesn’t appear to be a realistic option.”
The board had been looking at a $2.8 million deficit for the upcoming year. Besides suspending the intakes on the two dental programs, it has also decided to suspend the Aboriginal Early Childhood Education on-line program, which was not seeing a lot of students.
The budget also sees counselling positions at the Prince George campus cut, as well as looking to change the Prince George Early Care and Learning Centre to a non-profit society.