South Mountain Community College (SMCC) Ahwatukee Center will close its doors at the beginning of July, ending a more than 15-year service to the community.

According to the SMCC website, the Ahwatukee Center opened in 1999 and offered classes at Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista high schools. Various workshops and seminars were offered through the school on topics such as Social Security, Medicare and identity theft, along with General Educational Development (GED) classes offered through a partnership with Tempe Adult Education.

In a statement issued by SMCC, “South Mountain Community College announced in late April that it will not renew the lease for its current site in Ahwatukee at the Horizon Center. The college regrets having to make this decision, which is effective at the beginning of July, but is committed to seeking other options for serving Ahwatukee and to reconnecting with this community to determine how to better serve it in the future.”

A key component for SMCC’s Ahwatukee Center shutting down was the decreasing enrollment throughout the years.

“For several years, SMCC has maintained a site in Ahwatukee. In that time, the college experimented with different locations and approaches to its academic offerings. However, in recent years enrollment declined to very low levels, with the equivalent of 17 full-time students enrolled last year and the equivalent of only 11 full-time students this semester,” the statement said. “The college remains committed to a presence in Ahwatukee, and will retain its Ahwatukee staff and contacts so we can continue to communicate effectively with the community going forward.”

SMCC Ahwatukee Center was located on the Horizon Community Learning Center (HCLC) property, which SMCC rented out facility space that added up to a $55,000 year agreement with the two schools.

“We’ve had a great relationship with them in terms of using our facilities. They had space that they rented from us, and during the evening they were able to have classrooms open for their classes,” Betsy Fera, executive director for HCLC, said.

Fera said that administrators at HCLC were preparing for the idea of SMCC not renewing its annual lease, and took it into consideration while planning its budget for the following school term.

“In terms of our impact what we did was we had planned for it not to be part of our revenue source for next year,” Fera said. “We always start with our budget planning looking at some of those revenue streams that may or may not go away.”

As of right now, HCLC will use the space for its own school operations, and will rent out the space to an organization that fits the school’s criteria.

“I think it would have to be the right opportunity for us to be able to rent it out. It’s worked out perfectly with South Mountain because the times that they needed the space, we weren’t using it,” Fera said. “It would have to be the right kind of partnership … something that could really support our school.”

South Mountain Community College could not be reached for comment.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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