Cost of Proposed MCC Addition/Remodeling Cut

Dominick Demonica led McHenry County College Trustees and staff on a tour of the campus to point out the changes his architectural firm was suggesting.

The new science building would be put on this grassy area.

The new science building would be put on this grassy area on the north side of the current south corridor between the cafeteria and the trades and Black Box Theater portion of the campus.

Proposed was a science building on the grassy area between the two major buildings on the property.

An elevated walkway would link the two sides of the campus along the edge of the new building.

The two proposals differ insofar as the shape of the building or buildings to house the science labs and classrooms.

The two proposals differ insofar as the shape of the building or buildings to house the science labs and classrooms.

At the end of the tour and a power point presentation, he revealed the projected cost of two versions.

$27.3 million if the science building is a block and $30.7 million if it is three thin buildings.

In October, the price ranged from $62 to $78 million.

Chairwoman of the Committee of the Whole started the discussion by admitting she was “overwhelmed a bit.”

“I think it makes sense,” Cynthia Kisser said.

Chris Jenner like the plans, but asked, “Where’s the money going to come from?”

Mike Smith, Chairman of the College Board, said,

“I, too. was inspired by the tour.

“We should be giving that tour to communities across the [district].

“We have to sell this to the community.

“I can’t find the prudence of talking about a $40 million project without talking about the financing.”

He added that the incoming President should be consulted, but stressed that the lab space needed to be modernized.

Estimate cost with a block-shaped science building.

Estimate cost with a block-shaped science building.

Molly Walsh said, “I’m probably on the same page as everyone here…We have to do something.

“I’d hold off on Physical Education.

“We can look at a student fee for the student space.”

“Go out and sell it,” Mike Smith interjected.

“We need to agree on the finance model,” Kisser said.

Observing that the last proposal was between $62 and $78 million, Liddell complimented  Demonica:

“You cut it down considerably.”

Student Trustee Jason Memmen wondered if the Trustees were doing their part.

“We need the new lab space,” Karen Tirio agreed.

“We can’t afford [the whole proposal], so we have to be creative.

“Maybe we don’t have to offer everything under the sun.”

Walsh asked Tirio how she would proposed going about solving the problem.

“Ron brought up something in an email–only about five miles from here..

“It shouldn’t be off campus,” Walsh replied.

Memmen said that as a student he wouldn’t be pleased to having to go five miles away to take a biology course.

Citing an article about Census figures in McHenry County Blog, Tirio pointed out that one in five households in McHenry County are living in poverty.

Ron Parrish weighed in.

“When I suggested this study be done I had no idea [this would be the result].”

He complained about its ignoring of demographics.

“Part of the demand is a function of demographics.

“We’ve approached this entire study wrongly.

“It’s not that I’m being swayed by the general public; I am one.

“$37-$40 million–that’s not the game we’re in.

“[We should] begin with a study of what MCC should be and then mov[e] forward from that.

“Biology doesn’t need to be at MCC.

“Last time [the proposal} took my breath away.

“It was $62-$72 million.

“Let’s get a voice we can live with.”

“I’m really confused,” Memmen said.

“This is what we asked for.”

“I would like to see the finance model come back,” Kisser said.

Michael Smith added, “Support and affordability are not necessarily the same thing.”

Memmen pointed out that during the last discussion a referendum had been ruled out.

Smith said he was not philosophically opposed to a referendum, but we have to earn the right to present [one].

“If you’re going to sell it to the community, we have to agree on what we’re selling.”

“We’ve really taken a giant step backward,” Memmen commented.

Liddell put a more optimistic spin on the discussion.

“We need to figure out what we can afford.

“I don’t think we’re taking steps backwards.”


Cost of Proposed MCC Addition/Remodeling Cut — 12 Comments

  1. So, four years ago, MCC came up with a $640 million, forty year plan because enrollment was going to grow 3% per annum ad infinitum.

    Then, two years ago, MCC needed a $42 million plan to double class room space and build a fancy health club.

    Last year the trustees were told there was $30 million in deferred maintenance.

    Just a month ago, MCC got a study saying the college needed $62 million to $78 million for entirely different purposes than before.

    And, finally, last night, the trustees were told $27 million to $30 million would be enough.

    How can anyone have any confidence in any figures produced by the current administration?

    My advice to the trustees: do NOTHING until you get a new President. Then start from scratch.

  2. NIU nursing school is (a separate building) more than a mile from NIU campus.

    I can’t see that there is any relevant difference due to 3-4 more miles, unless students live on campus and don’t get to campus by car (must walk/bike between classes).

    MCC doesn’t offer on-campus housing, so students must drive to MCC to get to classes.

    Rationale for the statement “it shouldn’t be off campus” need to be presented.

  3. $27.3 mil to remedy the need of outdated laboratories?

    What am I missing here?

    No need to start over with a new president.

    Why delay, remodel the labs now at a cost that is way below $27.3 mil.

    Amazing shuffle by Liddell.

    Demonica the students trustee is out for f touch.

    Amazing show.

  4. “Ron brought up something in an email–only about five miles from here..

    “It shouldn’t be off campus,” Walsh replied.

    What are the odds in Vegas that this has “OMA violation” written all over it?

    Perhaps someone could FOIA the various emails that occured betweeen board members.

  5. School districts use the same playbook all the time when they want more money.

    Their first proposal is always something totally ridiculous, and then they come back with incrementally more modest requests to show the public how reasonable they are being.

    They need to keep at it. $27.3 mil is still way too much.

  6. Why hasn’t the board been presented with a plan to remodel the science labs and then maybe “bump out” a minor addition for the those new programs or classrooms?

    Asking that question, also means that the board understands they hold all the power.

    So again the board has failed in asking the simplest questions that would keep this cost down.

  7. I question Ron Parrish’s:

    1. Biology doesn’t need to be at MCC.
    – So how do you prepare nursing students as well as other health care workers without the classes to give them the background they need.

    2. Parrish states he knows of a building less than 5 minutes away. Is Ron Parrish related in anyway or connected to the person who is trying to sell/lease this building?

  8. Brent, Ron was NOT saying do away with biology classes.

    He was saying some biology classes can be offered off site, as has been going on at the Shah Center for many years.

    And, no, he has no financial interest in the building he is suggesting, nor does anyone related to him or any friend of his.

  9. Bottom line on top, this plan seems like idle hands busying themselves with empire building.

    It seems to me we need to take a step WAY back and look at the College’s mission (vague and milquetoast as it is)

    “Our focus is learning. Student success is our goal”

    and ask,

    “Is this expansion plan really the best way to provide learning and ensure student success”?

    I think it is safe to infer from that mission statement that, learning facilitates student success.

    If that is true, shouldn’t we concern ourselves with creating the best possible educational opportunities for the community?

    What if I told you that you could attend a Mathematics course from MIT and then a Public Economics course from Harvard and do both at no cost whatsoever?

    Would that change your idea of what our college should look like?

    There was a great article in the NW Herald today that hints at the possibilities. You can read more here:

    Smaller physical facilities that focus space use on test taking, counseling, coaching and hands-on-required skills building are the schools of the future.

    One could literally learn from the greatest minds in the world, prove your learning locally, and leverage counselors for strategies to best get you to the next level.

    We all know that secondary education as we know it is (or soon will be) a thing of the past.

    Why would we spend millions to build facilities that reflect a 200+ year old model?

  10. The article doesn’t list websites for such courses, but I’ve taken several at

    These free courses are offered by MIT, Stanford, Harvard and the like. Free, unless the student wishes to pay for a certificate of completion.

    Credit hours may be transferable.

    Not only can transition to online ed reduce need for physical plant capital spending(along with ops&maintenance budget, transportation budget, and staffing), online ed can serve as ‘Strike Kit’ to provide students seamless (free) lessons for duration of strikes.

  11. Randy Quaidd, you sound like a potential candidate.

    The only way to fix the problem is for good people to step up and run.


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