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ECC expansion includes relocations Officials debating use of 45 Oak St.

Expanding Erie Community College downtown would likely include moving the police academy to Buffalo from Amherst, as well as relocating an innovative high school program onto the City Campus.

ECC officials still are considering exactly how to use the county-owned building at 45 Oak St., which the Erie County Legislature agreed to upgrade last week as part of a package deal to boost ECC's downtown presence.

But the police training academy and ECC's Middle Early College High School program are two likely candidates to move onto the City Campus, now that the college has the extra space, said William D. Reuter, ECC's interim president.

"After that, we have no preconceived notions," Reuter said. "It will be based on what's best for ECC."

Reuter and ECC Chairman Raymond F. Gallagher talked about the recent developments at a meeting of the board of trustees Wednesday on the North Campus in Amherst.

The Legislature last Thursday agreed to County Executive Joel A. Giambra's proposal to borrow $20 million for ECC over the next two years. That includes $3 million for improvements at the North and South campuses and $17 million to be borrowed next year to construct an academic building downtown.

The agreement, if approved by the county's state-appointed control board, also boosts the college's annual subsidy from the county by $2 million and triggers the release of an additional $3 million in state aid for campus improvements.

"We're just delighted," Gallagher said. "This was not done without a lot of effort from many people. I can't say enough about the County Legislature's support for this."

ECC's board of trustees has agreed to allocate $1 million from college reserves to renovate the building at 45 Oak St., adjacent to the City Campus.

College officials hope to get in the building and begin the work as soon as possible, but they're hesitant to put a number on how many more students will be relocated to the City Campus by next semester.

ECC operates the police academy, where local law enforcement agencies send their new hires for 20 weeks of training. The college also offers a 17-week course for civilians, who can complete most of their mandatory training prior to being hired by a police agency.

Middle College High School is a joint program between ECC and the Buffalo Public Schools that allows students to earn a Regents diploma and an associate's degree from ECC in five years.

Nearly 300 students are in the program, which began in 2003 and is outgrowing its temporary location on Main Street, two blocks from the City Campus.

In other matters, the board discussed the search for a new ECC president and how wide a net should be cast to find candidates.

An initial meeting of the presidential search committee will be held May 8, while the job will be posted in June, said Patricia A. Krzesinski, chairwoman of the search committee.

e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com

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