INA – The Rend Lake College Foundation Board approved Thursday to allocate $100,000 in funds toward the creation of a childcare center at the RLC MarketPlace in Mt. Vernon.

Looking to adopt a couple of the college’s projects, the Board members added to their list the childcare center and a capital campaign for a Culinary Arts expansion upon meeting with RLC President Mark Kern at the college.

Kern said the cost to renovate the space at the MarketPlace and install a childcare center that meets state guidelines is estimated at $73,687.

He said the MarketPlace childcare center will benefit parents, especially single parents, who take Certified Nurse Assistant, Therapeutic Massage and Cosmetology classes there. And it will foster economic development in Mt. Vernon, he added.

Foundation Board member and Manager of Walgreen’s Distribution Center Chris Johnson expressed interest in childcare services being offered closer to the plant. He said many of his workers are unable to

meet schedule demands or work overtime, due to a lack of childcare services in Mt. Vernon.

“A good, quality daycare is hard to find,” he said. He also mentioned the level of quality childcare found at the RLC Foundation Children’s Center on the campus in Ina. Johnson said his children go there and that one of them is beginning to learn Spanish at the age of 3.

Board member Leo Childers said St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital’s daycare center is unable to meet the demand by parents in the area.

“The demand for childcare is more than we can take care of,” Childers said.

“I hear a lot of families talking about there not being enough daycare available,” said Board member Wayne Asberry. “This would help that and it would promote the economic development of the area.”

Chairman Hunt Bonan and the Board approved $100,000 for the project, with remaining funds (if any exist upon completion) to be allocated for the addition of a kitchen/dining room lab for the RLC Culinary Arts Program. With program enrollment high, Kern said the expansion will be needed to effectively instruct current and future Culinary Arts students at RLC.

“The program has been tremendously successful,” Kern said. “If [Culinary Arts instructor] Brian Kalata is as successful at bringing in a freshman class as he was in the program’s first year, we will really need more room.”

The designated space for expanded facilities will be renovated to house a teaching lab with an emphasis on baking and pastries – an area of Culinary Arts that adds an appealing dimension to a student’s body of knowledge within the field, according to RLC Culinary Arts Instructor Loughton Smith.

The Foundation also approved to have RLC Foundation CEO Pat Kern initiate a capital campaign to raise funding for the expansion project.

The Rend Lake College Foundation is responsible for many projects with the goal of improving education for students of RLC. With Foundation funding, the Aquatics Center and RLCF Children’s Center were built and the Wall of Fame and Wall of Honor is nearing completion on campus today.

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