MU seek proposals from private developers for child care center

Thursday, May 15, 2014 | 7:03 p.m. CDT; updated 8:37 a.m. CDT, Friday, May 16, 2014

COLUMBIA — MU will ask private developers to partner with the university to replace the child care center at University Village, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced Thursday.

The location of the proposed child care center has not been determined, MU spokesman Christian Basi said. The university plans to offer developers land "at essentially no cost" in exchange for discounted rates for MU students, faculty and staff, according to a news release.

The current facility, the Student Parent Center, is scheduled to close June 30. MU officials decided to close the day care along with the surrounding apartments after a walkway collapsed Feb. 22 and killed Columbia firefighter Lt. Bruce Britt.

There are no plans for an interim child care center, Basi said.

Kimberly Bodner, a clinical psychology doctoral candidate who created an online petition urging MU to move the Student Parent Center away from University Village, said she hopes the new facility will be affordable and in a location convenient for student parents.

Bodner withdrew her 6-month-old son from the Student Parent Center after the walkway collapse. She said it took her almost two months to find a new, adequate child care center — cutting time away from her research and doctoral program.

"We are pretty happy to hear that the university has such a positive response to all of the input but also cautiously optimistic as we look forward," Bodner said.

She said she hopes the new facility will be built in a timely fashion.

Bodner said she's new to the world of day care and mentioned there are parents who have been calling for an improved child care facility for five years.

She said she thinks the walkway collapse was the catalyst to make the process move more quickly.

Any developers interested in building the new child care center may submit a proposal to the university. The university has not yet issued a request for proposals nor set a deadline, Basi said.

Supervising editor is Adam Aton.

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Tracy Greever-Rice May 16, 2014 | 2:34 p.m.

A real estate development firm who also runs day care centers at subsidized rates...

Seems like a solution via a fairly narrowly niche'd market.

I hope the university remains open to alternatives like using existing MU facilities resources or renting existing non-MU privately or publicly owned facilities for the space and hiring skilled early childhood education professionals.

It is unlikely that all of MU's policy and planning issues will be solved by surrendering them to the real estate speculators.

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