CRYSTAL LAKE – The McHenry County College Board of Trustees began preliminary discussions on the scope and cost of a new facility that potentially could house health science classrooms, laboratory space, a health care clinic and a fitness center.
Administrators and consultants summarized a roughly 200-page report that included eight scenarios for a new facility either on or off campus and funding mechanisms, including alternative revenue bonds or increased student fees, for a project that ranges from $29.5 million to $47.3 million, depending on the board’s final decision.
The report was the result of months of feasibility studies, surveys and reports that came as part of a 40-year, $640 million expansion plan – $278 million of which could be used to expand the college in the next 10 years.
Trustee Mary Miller, a member of the task force that helped develop the report, said board members must decide whether to pursue minimal expansion, such as additional classroom space for health classes, or move forward with a full plan including a fitness center and health clinic with future growth in mind.
“It’s real clear in my opinion that we are out of space,” Miller said “For our programs to progress ... we need space.”
The report showed many health science programs have maxed out enrollment, and McHenry County College has less gross square footage per student than other area institutions. While McHenry County College has roughly 100 gross square feet per student, other schools such as Harper College and Elgin Community College have more than 130 gross square feet per student.
The cheapest proposed option would add 75,500 gross square feet all dedicated for health science classrooms and laboratories. The most expensive option would add 130,400 gross square feet and include a fitness center and clinic along with the classroom and laboratory expansion.
Administrators warned against any off-campus option as it would require the college to also maintain student services, such as a library and support staff, at that facility.
Funding options include alternative revenue bonds, which would not require a referendum, philanthropy campaigns and public-private partnerships. All options would likely be supported by a new infrastructure student fee that would cost $9 per hour. Similar fees are used at other area community colleges.
Administrators also said Centegra Health System has expressed interest in leasing space if a clinic were to start and would be interested in a management role if a new fitness center was constructed.
Board Chairman Ron Parrish said he wanted all trustees to thoroughly vet the full report before reconvening to discuss options at the Oct. 15 Committee of the Whole meeting.
“When we do come back together, I’d like for you to have put a lot of thought into these financing and debt options,” Parrish said. “They may be the major influence on our decisions.”
A copy of the summarized PowerPoint presentation and the full report are available on the college’s website at www.mchenry.edu.