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Education

McHenry County College expansion plans challenged

CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County College's proposal to construct a new facility for its health science program and fitness center came under public scrutiny Thursday.

Resident Steve Wilson challenged McHenry County College trustees during a board meeting about their plan to construct a new facility for health science courses, saying the demand for health care jobs is not as great as college officials claim.

Wilson cited the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s Industry Long-Term Projections report, which showed there will be a roughly 12 percent increase in health care support jobs in McHenry County and 11.8 percent growth in health care practitioners and technical occupations between 2010 and 2020. Combined, the two fields provide 221 job openings per year, according to the report.

"MCC has a vital role to play in this community. It does not fulfill that role if its resources are wasted," Wilson said. "If you love this college ... then you want it to be the best it can be, not just the biggest it can be."

Supporters of the expansion have said the state also projects health care to be one of the fastest-growing sectors in surrounding counties, with thousands of job openings in Lake, Cook and other neighboring counties. Instructors also told board members last week that there was not enough space to accommodate all the lectures and laboratory work needed as more students apply for the program.

Because the comments were made in the public participation portion of the meeting, board members did not respond immediately.

The project could cost between $29.5 million and $47.3 million under initial proposals presented to the board. Some options include moving to vacated space in the surrounding community while others call for a new facility that would house classrooms and a large fitness center.

No funding source has been identified for the project.

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