Steve Wilson Critiques MCC Space Needs Recommendations

Lakewood’s Steve Wilson took a look at the power point report submitted by McHenry County College’s space needs consultant and came up with this analysis. He put in a comment under my article about the meetings, which, I would observe differs markedly from that which appeared in the Northwest Herald.

And I’m beginning to wonder if there is anyone at MCC who can do anything without a consultant.

For $132,000, the College got a regurgitation of their own numbers and a phony projection that supports the administration’s stated position.

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Steve Willson

Steve Willson

I am underwhelmed by MCC’s space planning study.First the consultant notes that between 2008 and 2014, student enrollment increased 11% and full-time equivalent enrollment increased 17%.

They fail to point out that both figures peaked in 2011 and have declined steadily since then, by 8.4% and 10.1%, respectively.

Later they project that in ten years enrollment will be 7.6% higher.

Where will the additional students come from?

The consultant doesn’t say.

But increased enrollment MUST come either from traditional freshmen or from increased adult enrollment.

So let’s look at the numbers for both cohorts.

Elementary school enrollment in McHenry County has been in decline for years, especially at the elementary level.

We have 20% fewer third graders than we have seniors.

In other words, we know that IN TEN YEARS, THE POOL OF GRADUATING SENIORS — MCC’S POTENTIAL FRESHMEN — WILL BE 20% LOWER.

The consultant admitted that they did not look at elementary school enrollment in McHenry County.

Freshmen make up the vast majority of MCC’s students.

Very simple math shows that if freshman enrollment declines by 20%, then IN THE NEXT TEN YEARS, OLDER STUDENT ENROLLMENT WILL HAVE TO INCREASE BY 88% TO CAUSE OVERALL ENROLLMENT TO INCREASE BY 7%.

There has been NO trend at MCC of increasing adult enrollment.

And population in McHenry County has been declining since 2007 or 2008.

So, again I ask, where will the additional students come from?

The consultant doesn’t say.

I suppose we should just be happy that the administration isn’t still pushing the “3% every year” growth number they touted just two years ago.

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The consultant’s major conclusions about the College’s space are that

  1. classrooms are in use only 56% of the time, and
  2. that average class size is 18.

We already knew that.

I forced the College to divulge the first figure two years ago.

They denied they collected such information when I submitted a FOIA request, but, ultimately, they coughed up the data.

As for the second number, it is in a table at the back of their annual report.

Average class size used to be 22 and is now 18.

I did an analysis of MCC’s course enrollment two years ago at Tom Wilbeck’s request and found that 28% of MCC’s credit classes had ten or fewer students.

Many had only three!

The consultant concludes:

“The findings show that there is additional capacity in the afternoons and early evening hours…”

Duh!

To their credit, the consultant did make one useful observation:

that classroom utilization at MCC is below the standards set by many states, meaning there is zero need for more classroom space.Again, though — there is no one at MCC who could have figured that out without hiring a consultant for $132,000?

How about the College’s Office of Institutional Research?

Why even have such a department if they can’t develop this kind of information?

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The consultant concludes that in ten years, because of enrollment increases, MCC will need 20,000 square feet more space than it has today, half for a bigger gym and half for a big new student center, an idea the administration has been pushing hard.

We don’t need a bigger gym at MCC, any more than we needed a big health club two years ago.

And empty classrooms can be used for student club meetings and the big new empty cafeteria can double as a lounge — which it already does.

And if the College grows, which is unlikely based on current trends and data, we will have plenty of time to see it coming and add space then, not today based on phony projections.

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Next up: MCC wants to hire a consultant to find a new president because apparently no one there feels competent to make such a decision on their own.


Comments

Steve Wilson Critiques MCC Space Needs Recommendations — 4 Comments

  1. Excellent analysis.

    And the lead question deserves an answer.

    Why do boards in this county spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for consulting reports on money-spending proposals?

    Has any Mchenry County taxing body commissioned an efficiency analysis for recommendations of cost-cutting measures within their purview?

    Perhaps board members are practicing “defensive government”, driving up costs of governance by ordering unnecessary tests.

    But unlike medical professionals, politicians are exempted from malpractice liability.

    Maybe personal liability for decisions would make boards more careful about borrowing and spending in a county with higher than 4% property tax rates.

  2. Stephen Willson for Mchenry County Executive position!

    He is the only one making any sense and is consistently correct in his analysis.

    Mchenry County better look at drafting him to run for that position!

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