The McHenry County College Board is scheduled to meet tonight at 6:30 to discuss facility need for science labs/health careers.
The only story written so far on the subject, published last Friday, can be found here.
A critique by Steve Willson of the $22 million science lab-health training proposal from McHenry County College’s administration:
Questionable Justification for More Health Career Labs
McHenry County College recently produced yet another document to justify their proposed $24 million science/health career labs project.
What’s interesting is both what IS in the document and what ISN’T in the document. This article will focus on three big issues:
- the total size of the proposed project;
- how large the health careers programs should be; and
- whether the health career labs are obsolete.
Total Project Size
The document notes that the existing science labs occupy about 12,600 square feet but no information is given on the size of the health career labs. Based on the number of health career labs, the size is probably smaller than the science labs, but all together the labs probably occupy less than 24,000 square feet.
The proposed project is almost 73,000 square feet, or three times the current space. Yet the documents given to the trustees and the public never explain why a 24,000 square foot project suddenly becomes a 73,000 square foot project.
There is a disconnect between the evidence and the proposed solution – a 50,000 square foot disconnect.
Proper Program Enrollment
The justification for more health careers labs looks questionable based on the projected number of job openings versus the number of students enrolled.
1) Illinois Department of Employment Security annual job projections for McHenry County.
2) “Patient Care Technician” is not an IDES-defined category.
Look very carefully at the last two columns in the table above and compare the size of each program with the projected number of job openings.
Let’s begin with the Nursing program. Hospitals no longer hire RNs without a Bachelors degree so to get a good job the MCC students will have to finish at a four-year college. But many nursing students go straight to a four-year college, so MCC needs to produce fewer graduates than there are job openings. In short, the nursing program is probably “right-sized”.
But look at Occupational Therapy Assistant. The program has 32 students per year and probably graduates about nine. But the Illinois Department of Employment Security projects only TWO job openings per year!
Similarly, the Health Information Technology program looks like it will graduate three times as many students as there are local job openings.
The EMT program looks like it will graduate three times as many students as there are job openings.
The Basic Nursing Assistant program will produce 40% more graduates than there are job openings.
Patient Care Technician is NOT an IDES-defined job category, so it’s not possible to say whether this program is right-sized or not.
Finally, the Physical Therapy Assistant program appears to be right-sized.
In short, two of seven programs appear to be the right size, for one there is no data, but for FOUR of the seven programs, with 67% of the students, appear to be far larger than they should be.
Is it good public policy to encourage students to study for positions in fields where there won’t be enough jobs? Is is fair to the students? Is it fair to the taxpayers? It is a good use of donors’ money?
Health Career Labs Not Obsolete
Next look at the age of the programs and their labs. The nursing program was started eight years ago; those labs are not obsolete. The OTA program was started in 2011. THOSE labs are not obsolete. The HIT program is brand new – it started just last year. Clearly there is no justification for replacing that lab. Similarly the Patient Care Technician program is also brand new; it’s lab cannot be obsolete.
It’s possible that the EMT and Nursing Assistant labs are obsolete, but that should be proven before money is spent.
In short, of seven programs, five have facilities of very recent vintage.
It appears that once again the administration has presented the board and the public with a collection of non sequiturs rather than a persuasive case including sufficient data and clear reasoning connecting the data to their desired conclusions.
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Below is McHenry County College’s justification: