Citizen Critiques MCC Expansion Report

I found the following critique of a McHenry County College agenda item tonight of interest and thought you might, too.  Reactions are in italics.

The meeting is at 6:30.

FY 2015 RAMP Board Report 14-1121

The combined cost for all three projects in this submission is estimated at $74,437,059.

The College is requesting that the State appropriate 75% estimated at $55,827,794 with local funds supporting the remaining 25% estimated at $18,609,265.

$18,609,265 is a lot of local money.

Further, the other 75% that is glibly referred to as from” the State” also came out of our taxpaying pockets.

Programatic Justification Narrative p 4 of 25:

The Facilities Master Plan identified the need for growth in physical facilities based on three findings. The first of those findings supporting growing the physical facilities of the campus is based on right sizing the College. Using peer facility comparative data provided by the Illinois Community College Board, McHenry County College’s campus was found to be undersized by 100,000 square feet.

This is bogus logic. Even if MCC is “undersized,” does it matter? Taxpayers will find the excuse of being undersized a very poor excuse for spending money, even if it is in a special restricted fund for building.

The second finding supporting growth of the physical facilities of the campus is based on population growth of the county.

Historically, McHenry County has averaged a growth rate of 4% over the last forty years.

More facilities will be required to serve the increased population of the county.

Questionable data – is this from CMAP? U.S. Census data show otherwise. I would be reluctant to use data from the past forty years to plan for the future. McHenry County is tapped out on growth.

The McHenry County Board contracted Baxter and Woodman to do a study on ground water, and B & A concluded that there would be significant water shortages by 2030 if McHenry County continued to develop at the rate of the 1990’s and 2000’s.

So realistically, the county should not be counting on 4% growth.

An article in the NW Herald this week cited the county decreased by 1%.

The final finding supporting growth of the physical facilities is based on the Education Master Plan which identified the new programs the College is seeking to develop in order to serve its district residents.

What are these new programs and are they needed?

Needed like the robotics lab that had six students in it Spring 2014 and one class scheduled for Fall 2014?

Needed like the culinary program?

I have the impression that Vicky identifies new adventures without solid data.

Science and Health Professions Center p. 12 of 25:

Food Service/Dining Improvements

The Commons and cafeteria are the most recent renovations to McHenry County College.

The Commons and cafeteria are the most recent renovations to McHenry County College.

This would allow the expansion of space in the Food Service area to better serve and address the needs of students, staff and conference center attendees.

Currently, large community or corporate groups attending our conference center are forced to share the general dining room because private dining room space is very limited.

Can they cite data showing this?

I am on campus several times a week taking a class adjacent to the dining area and have seen dining areas set up for conferences – it appears to me that the current system is working well.

By providing food service alternative venues in all buildings on campus, overall dining capacity on-campus would be increased. Students would have different dining choices near their class areas and there would be more seating capacity in the main dining area for conference center attendees. Additional food preparation area and dishwashing area will also be required.

This is out of touch! All buildings would have food service venues? The taxpaying public says the vending machines located throughout campus will do just fine. I remember a conversation with MCC’s CFO many years ago – she was talking about outsourcing the cafeteria or severely cutting its hours because the students were not patronizing it – they were finding cheaper fast food alternatives on the drive to campus. I wonder if that is not happening today.

Does the overall dining capacity need to be increased?

There always appears to be plenty of vacant seats when I am there.

I do not think the taxpaying public cares if students have different dining choices near their class areas.

And this would require additional food prep areas and dishwashing!

I predict if these areas are built, they will be closed in several years because they are not profitable.

Student Life Center p. 19 of 25:


Where are the data that show this is needed?

With Vicky talking about outsourcing the bookstore, it sounds like she does not think it makes enough money, so why would enlarging it help? Also, with Amazon and much cheaper online sources for texts, campus bookstores may be on the way out.

Learning and Student Support Services/Administrative Services/Development:

Through new construction the support space will gain a more professional look.

Good grief! What a poor justification to spend taxpayer money!

Health/Wellness/Athletic Center Addition:

With the expansion outlined in this phase, the added space would be used to accommodate growing athletic program fitness and wellness area needs as well as growing community needs.

Has this “expansion” been scaled back to fit with the new Board’s refusal to go along with the $42 million boondoggle?


Citizen Critiques MCC Expansion Report — 6 Comments

  1. There is supposedly a transportation, warehousing, and logistics program at MCC yet they are offering no sections for any of those courses.

    We’re right by one of the largest transportation hubs in the country.

    They have draconian restrictions for their nursing program (not sure how much of that is them vs. government regulation) plus offer barely any sections for those classes.

    I know people who have 30 credits, and when priority registration comes up the classes are already filled.

    Some of them have given up because they have repeatedly not been able to get in and they are stuck as caregivers or CNAs which around here doesn’t pay very much.

    Demand is incredibly high in the nursing field.

    Look in the classified section.

    The manufacturing program, as far as I know, only deals with CNC.

    They are way behind the manufacturing programs of CLC and ECC which do stuff with sheet metal, tool and dye making, bandsaws, drill presses, CNC, and even molding.

    There are many jobs in these areas.

    They also say that they can justify their price increases because they are cheap compared to other community colleges.

    This may be true, but part of the reason they are (and should remain) cheaper than other schools is that they offer less.

    Occupational programs like the welding boot camp, CDL certification, and forklift training are practically hidden.

    Yet they want to graduate more people in health and fitness field aka personal trainers, which have an extremely high turnover rate because they often work for commission (even if they are not independent but working for a big box club, the club sets the rate and keeps half of the commission), the market is oversaturated, they often don’t receive benefits, they have to buy special insurance for their job, they have to pay for continuing education credits to keep their certification(s) current, and they are only required to have a high school education to be eligible for certification in the first place.

    So I really believe that MCC has a major priority problem in terms of how many sections for classes they offer and how they recruit students into various programs.

    All this talk from MCC bureaucrats about “integrating the local economy with local education” is hogwash.

    And where’s this money coming from?

    Long story short: MCC likes to spend a lot of money to turn out cup cake decorators and personal trainers.

  2. I actually support this architectural review — IF it is performed as billed.

    That is, IF the board makes clear to whoever is hired that this is NOT be another “made as instructed” justification for expansion, that the board will be closely examining the findings to see if the report examines all relevant evidence, and does not leave out anything unfavorable to growth, that the board will be very sensitive to any evidence of administration meddling.

    In short, if the report is truly objective, it might serve the taxpayers well.

    I’m still waiting to find out how much the cost is, though.

  3. Boy, do I feel silly. I read some of the documents about MCC’s plan to hire an architect to review their capital needs, and thought the documents mentioned in this article were part of that project. Someone very nice explained to me the error of my ways. (A private thank you to that person.)

    Now that I have re-read this piece more carefully and understand that it is NOT part of the architectural review RFP process, let me say two things.

    First, the citizen who analyzed this proposal has done first rate work.

    All the right questions are being asked.

    An especially good point is made with regard to using the wrong benchmarks (average classroom space versus other colleges; the 40 year population growth rate) versus using the right benchmarks (how little current space is used; how population growth has turned negative).

    Second, the idea that the State is going to cough up $56 million for these projects, given the State’s own financial condition and the weak justification for the expansion, is just hilarious!

    I must thank the MCC administration for giving me a good laugh.

    Last year they wanted $45 million to double classroom space and build a fancy health club, an attempt so egregious that the state legislature changed the law the MCC administration planned to use to finance the project.

    This year they want $75 million — $30 million more! — and they think the state will kick in three-fourths of it?

    What state agency should we all contact to object to MCC’s request?

  4. Should have FIRED Dr. Smith when we had the chance.

    Ooops…we did.

    And her attorney saved her.

    What is the next step to get her out of here??

  5. Please wear stick-on name tag at meeting:

    “Hello! My property tax rate is 3.67%! What’s yours?”

    (Of course each person should fill in their own property tax rate as a percentage home value, others may have lower rates than Seneca Township citizens).

    The point is: let the decision-makers face a sea of citizens signaling we cannot afford another dime of tax money spent, not for anything. We don’t care about particulars of architects’ reports, don’t care about health clubs, don’t even care what your name is.

    Just tell me what your tax rate is and if you are ok with making me pay mine.

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