Schenectady County Community College will expand its footprint in another county this fall when it opens a satellite location at the Albany County office building.
“We’re ready to meet the demands of today’s employers of the Capital Region and beyond,” said SCCC President Quintin Bullock.
SCCC plans to renovate 10,000 square feet on the 112 State St. building’s second floor — currently vacant offices — into classrooms, common areas and faculty offices. Bullock said he doesn’t know exactly how much the renovations will cost. Also to be negotiated is the price of the lease that SCCC will pay to Albany County.
The goal is to start with at least 1,000 students and build from there. SCCC currently has about 4,500 students in Schenectady. Bullock said the college would offer general education classes at the Albany location and other classes from its programs to be determined.
“It is the first step in our intent to create a formal learning extension in Albany County,” Bullock said.
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said he is thrilled that SCCC will have a presence in Albany.
“This partnership that we have is going to bring a thousand students in this building in downtown Albany,” he aid.
Those students will shop, eat and spend other money downtown, which will help the local economy, he said. SCCC students will be able to ride the bus between Albany and Schenectady for free, or if they drive, park for free in designated spaces in the Times Union Center.
“We’re giving an opportunity for the children of Albany County to move to the next level,” he said.
McCoy said it was a good example of regional cooperation. “There can be no more borders anymore. We have to look at what every community has to offer,” he said.
College officials and McCoy credited college consultant Wally Altes, the former head of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, for his work in this effort. Altes reached out about three years ago to Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, who had expressed a desire to develop a community college for Albany County.
SCCC Board of Trustees Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw said the college’s expansion into Albany County would help with charge backs, which are payments that Schenectady County makes to other counties if Schenectady students attend colleges outside the county. That figure is roughly around $2 million per year.
“We would get charge backs for any Albany County student who comes here,” she said.
Jennings said it is a solution to an urban problem. “Our kids are not getting an education nor the opportunity to get an education,” he said.
He praised Bullock. “I want to thank him for having a vision and really being aggressive in growing the community college,” Jennings said.
Several other elected officials were own hand for the announcement. Schenectady County Legislature Chairwoman Judith Dagostino said that the Center City model in Schenectady is a blueprint for what they want to do in Albany. Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy pointed out that he is an SCCC alumnus. He said people in the future will look back and see that this was an exciting time in the Capital Region with the activity at GE, GlobalFoundries and the University at Albany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
SCCC has had a foothold in Albany County since 2011 as it has offered its eight-week certified nursing assistant class in the Department of Labor building at 175 Central Ave. on the third floor right above the Albany One Stop.
This is part of the five-year, $11.2 million grant the college received in 2010 from the Department of Health and Human Services to train low-income people for health careers.
McGraw said the college’s Washington Avenue campus is landlocked by the Mohawk River and Interstate 890 and has no room to grow.
It remains unclear how SCCC’s expansion into Albany County will affect the area’s largest community college — Hudson Valley.
“It’s hard to say without knowing what they’re teaching,” said HVCC spokesman Dennis Kennedy. “We have extensive degree and certificate programs, many that are not available at Schenectady or will be taught in Albany.”
HVCC has had a presence in Albany County for decades, according to Kennedy, and currently operates a formal extension center at 175 Central Ave. It also has programs in various Albany County high schools, Capital Region BOCES and Tech Valley High School.
“We currently have more than 5,000 Albany County students that attend classes at Hudson Valley,” he said. “We’re very proud of our service to the county and we’re looking forward to continuing that.”
SCCC has been expanding its physical presence off its Washington Avenue campus during the last few years. In 2011, it began leasing 20,000 square feet at Center City in downtown Schenectady to offer classes in eight rooms, including two mock hospital rooms with equipment as part of its eight-week certified nursing assistant class.
Last June, the college announced that it was leasing 11,000 square feet of additional space at Center City for four more classrooms as well as faculty offices, common areas and a lounge for students.
Bullock said Monday that workers were finishing installing computers and other technology into the space and was on track to have that completed this week.
The 264-bed student housing project across the street from the classroom complex opened in August.
The college is also in the process of trying to fix up the building at 201 State St., which was donated to it in 2009 by the Kindl family. It is going to house the college’s workforce development programs. The roof needs to be replaced.
McGraw said the college would be interested in looking at the YMCA building across the street; it is going to become available when the tenants are moved to a new facility on Broadway.