From Lakewood bond analysis Steve Willson:
The Most Basic Question About the MCC Capital Project
All of the arguments made by administration at MCC to justify the science labs/health careers labs project fail to address THE most fundamental question:
Will there be enough MORE students getting GOOD JOBS as a direct result of this project to justify spending $24 million?
The project is for new science labs and new health careers labs.
Let’s look at both parts.
The science labs at MCC are obsolete and almost every student at MCC take some science classes, so there is no question the college needs to remodel the science labs.
The science labs currently occupy about 10,000 square feet. Modern labs are 40% bigger than the old labs. Instead of building a big new addition, MCC could repurpose a few underutilized classrooms near the existing labs to provide the additional space. 14,000 square feet x $325 per square foot = $4.55 million.
What about the health career labs?
Well, to begin, they are definitely NOT obsolete. They are, in fact, very new. The Occupational Therapy program was just begun in 2011. The Health Information Technology program was started in 2015. Updating and moving them is throwing away good money.
So, if the health careers labs are NOT obsolete, is there so much demand that all the students graduating from these programs are finding good paying jobs here in McHenry County and other jobs are going begging, and so the number of labs should be expanded?
The answer is… MCC has no idea!
The College’s Mission Statement says,
“Student success is our goal.”
Yet the college administration has NEVER TRACKED WHETHER THEIR STUDENTS SUCCEED IN GETTING GOOD JOBS.
And despite promises eighteen months ago to begin to do so, there is STILL no program in place to track whether students actually succeed.
That means those favoring this expansion are doing so on FAITH, which is, by definition, belief without evidence.
And how do they intend to pay for this faith-based project?
By spending our tax dollars and raising the cost of going to college for 100% of the students despite the fact that 95% of the students at MCC are not in these programs and so will not benefit.
So, if the College doesn’t bother to track the information they need to make an informed decision, and never answered that most basic question in all presentations they made trying to justify this expenditure, is there ANY OTHER EVIDENCE about the number of jobs in these fields?
The answer is, YES, there is other evidence, and this evidence is AGAINST expanding the health careers labs, and the administration and their consultants ignored this evidence in all their presentations.tThe Illinois Department of Employment Security makes job projections.
These can easily be compared with the size of each health careers program.
Let’s take a look.
The Nursing program has 96 students.
The IDES projects 53 job openings per year.
Given that a bachelors degree is needed to get an RN job these days, and that many students go directly to a four year college to get their degree, this program is probably the right size.
It certainly doesn’t need to be expanded.
The Occupational Therapy program has 32 students.
The IDES projects TWO job openings per year in this field in McHenry County.
The Health Information Technology program has 60 students.
The IDES projects SIX job openings per year in this field in McHenry County.
The EMT program has over 100 students.
IDES projects 11 job openings per year in this field in McHenry County.
Some of the students in the EMT program are taking refresher courses, but it’s still clear that this program doesn’t need to be expanded.
Now let’s look at the cost of this program and estimate the benefit.
The proposed project cost is $24 million.
As noted above, updating the science labs should cost under $5 million.
$24 million – $5 million = $19 million.
The ANNUALIZED cost of $19 million is about $1.4 million per year.
Divide this additional annual cost, $1.4 million, by the likely number of additional good jobs for students, and decide for yourself if the cost is reasonable.
In total, the IDES projects only 106 job openings per year in all of the fields in the health careers curriculum and the BEST EVIDENCE WE HAVE indicates that many of the current programs at MCC are probably too big for that demand.
If that’s the case – and, remember, this is the BEST EVIDENCE WE HAVE – then how many MORE students can we expect to get good jobs each year?
I would say the best evidence is, “NONE”.
But even if one were very optimistic – and I would suggest that it’s bad public policy to spend other people’s money on optimistic guesses – the number of additional jobs students are likely to get is small.
If ONE MORE student each year gets a good job as a result of this capital project, the cost will be $1.4 million for that one student.
If FIVE MORE students get good jobs each year specifically as a result of this program, the cost will be $280,000 per student.
If TEN MORE students get good jobs specifically as a result of this program – and that is WILDLY optimistic — the cost will be $140,000 per student.
So, decide for yourself.
Should health career labs built in the last few years be thrown away and new labs built?
Should the College have tracked information about student success before they tried to justify a big capital project?
Is there other evidence and does this evidence indicate strongly that the programs need to be dramatically expanded?
Is the cost per student reasonable?
Should all students have to pay more to go to MCC so a small minority of the students get new space?
Decide for yourself.