Butler community reacts to EduCare Center shuttering

Caelin Bragg

The announcement that Butler Community College is terminating its EduCare Center program has been a source of shock and sadness throughout the community.

The college announced the closure of the program earlier this month citing unpredictability of service because of COVID-19 and budget difficulties.

“This business decision was made with a very heavy heart, but with looming budget cuts and the unpredictability of COVID-19 outbreaks, it was necessary,” Dean of Health, Education and Public Services Christy Streeter said in an email to parents on Monday, June 1. “We realize EduCare has had a positive impact at Butler and on the families and communities we have served over the years and that its closure is a loss for all.”

Many in the community expressed regret and sorrow at the loss of EduCare, and many reacted to Butler County Times-Gazette report of the closure on Facebook.

“My three kids love it there and the teachers are fantastic,” Toshia Tillman said. “I hate to see this.”

“Such a loss to this city,” Melinda Baum Shaw said. “All three of my kids went there and I am forever grateful.”

The decision to shutter the program comes one month after it was reported that Brent Martin, assistant director of EduCare, was arrested on charges approximately five years ago of Aggravated Indecent Liberties with a Child on Tuesday, May 5.

“It’s a tragedy to find that a tax-funded entity, or any entity, allowed for child abuse of any kind,” 77 District Representative Kristey Williams, who has been critical of the college’s budget, said. “The BCC administration should be held accountable on every level — for not protecting the most vulnerable within their care and not properly funding and managing the facility. BCC Administration should be transparent regarding their course of action, past and present.”

The decision to close EduCare by the Board of Trustees was done in executive session, meaning the exact reasoning and details behind the closure are unknown. The college has not said whether the program closing was related to the arrest last month.

On Tuesday, June 2, Katy Wohlgemuth started a petition titled “Save Educare,” with a goal of 1,500 signatures.

“The program was a shinning [sic] light in our community,” Wohlgemuth wrote of the petition. “It provided jobs for 28 teachers and an educational lab for Butler students working towards their early childhood education degree. The daycare was a source of light and stability for our young learners, serving as a progressive and highly accredited atmosphere for almost 100 kiddos … The news is heartbreaking to the families counting on the community service.”

At press time, the petition is nearly at 85 percent of their goal.

There is a meeting scheduled via Zoom to discuss the closure of the EduCare. It is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9.