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NCCC: Niagara County to examine 'Learning Commons' proposal

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Thu, Apr 16th 2015 06:40 pm

Legislators will consider funding obligation for NCCC project

A pair of Niagara County legislators said the county government would give full consideration to a proposed "Learning Commons" project at Niagara County Community College announced today by State Sen. Robert G. Ortt and NCCC President James P. Klyczek.

The statement from County legislators Wm. Keith McNall, R-Lockport, and John Syracuse, R-Newfane, came shortly after Ortt and Klyczek jointly announced $12.5 million has been set aside in the state budget to create a Learning Commons atrium at the college. The funds, secured by Ortt and included in the state's 2015-16 funding plan, would be used to renovate and upgrade the college's library, child development center, and faculty resource center.

The project requires a county matching grant.

In his statement announcing the planned expansion, Klyczek said, "The Learning Commons will become the nucleus of the campus; a place for faculty to collaborate and help students develop critical thinking skills while incorporating state-of-the-art technology, multiple student support services, and a home for both students and staff. This will support NCCC's overarching goals to improve student success and graduation rates."

Because the project requires a matching grant, the County Legislature must approve Niagara County's portion of the funding as a capital expenditure.

"Niagara County Community College is an outstanding institution that offers individuals an excellent yet affordable education," said Syracuse, who chairs the county's infrastructure and facilities committee. "As we have shown for years, we are committed to investing county resources in the college. That being said, it's imperative that we do our due diligence in evaluating the potential financial obligation on behalf of the county prior to committing to the Learning Commons initiative."

McNall, who chairs the county's community services committee, said he is confident the project itself will be thoroughly reviewed by the legislature - as well as the financial obligation required on the part of the county.

"On the surface, the proposed Learning Commons appears to be a transformational development for the college, certainly one that warrants significant consideration from the Legislature," McNall said. "As a body, we will come together to discuss the project as well as benefits and challenges of moving forward, and make a decision based on the best interests of all county residents."

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