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Our view: MCC board faces tough balancing act

Published: Sunday, May 5, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

The McHenry County College Board of Trustees has gone through another significant transition with the election last month of three new members followed by the board’s vote for a new chairman.

After the newest members – Molly Walsh, Chris Jenner and Tom Wilbeck – took their oaths of office, the board voted, 4-3, to elect Ron Parrish its chairman.

The split vote on the chairmanship is not necessarily a sign of future gridlock on the board. Healthy boards should include members of diverse backgrounds and opinions. If they were to agree on everything, especially with the recent makeover, that would be a cause for concern.

What’s important now is that the board work together to ensure that the college’s purpose is met: preparing students for four-year universities and to fill the needs of the county’s ever-evolving workforce.

We appreciate Parrish’s message, offered after being elected board chairman, of the importance for the college to be transparent and communicate clearly with the public.

The next few years will be vital ones for MCC. It is growing, and the needs of its student population and the local workforce are changing.

The college last year proposed an aggressive – and expensive – expansion plan. Because there is not a clear funding source identified for expansion, many taxpayers pushed back.

The new board must continue to advocate for and provide more higher education opportunities for McHenry County residents. As we’ve said before, the entire community benefits when its populace is better educated. A better-educated workforce means better-paying jobs, which translates into a healthier economy.

But the board also must keep taxpayers’ interests in mind, and invite community feedback on growth plans.

We recognize that meeting the needs of students and the workforce while also addressing taxpayers’ concerns can be a difficult balancing act. But we have confidence that the college and the board of trustees can work toward common-sense solutions.

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