Like you, I love Lake County. We’re surrounded by natural beauty and friendly people. It’s a great place to raise kids. Education continues to be a priority for those of all ages and backgrounds, and the College of Lake County is one of our last avenues to affordable higher education.
We need a CLC Board Trustee who works to ensure accessibility and a local focus.
- Promote Completion.
We need a Trustee who can articulate with feeder districts, close achievement gaps, maximize educational opportunities, and increase completion rates.
What makes a community college different than other modes of higher education is its local accessibility and versatility. The College of Lake County is a college for the community, not a community for the college.
Community colleges are in a unique position that allows educators to align curriculum and programming at all levels – primary, secondary, post-secondary, and school-to-work transition. CLC offers training, independent coursework, 2-year degrees, certificates, and courses that transfer to 4-year programs.
Increasing completion rates is an issue that warrants attention. One reason graduation rates are low among community colleges is because they don’t exclude poorly prepared students; therefore, they need to work harder at moving these students towards graduation.
The foundation of successful programming is anticipating the educational, financial, and emotional needs of CLC’s diverse population. Implementing new College Readiness curriculum in feeder districts will help bridge the skills gap for incoming students. The Accelerating Your College Success bridge program encourages students to enter a program of study as soon as possible and complete the required coursework. Students who enter a program of study in the first year after admissions perform substantially better.
Programs such as Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) have demonstrated promising results by promoting full-time attendance and providing wraparound services. Research shows one of the biggest obstacles we need to overcome in education is poverty. Initiatives should be expanded for specific populations including veterans, low-income students, ELL students, students with special needs, returning adults, and single parents.
- Support Quality Educational Programming.
We need a Trustee who will work tirelessly to identify avenues for community outreach, provide solid educational programming, maintain high educational standards, anticipate career skills in a rapidly changing job market, and target areas of employment deficit.
I support the implementation of innovative programming, particularly in new and upcoming fields such as green initiatives and technologies, and craftsmanship that integrates education in small business administration into training of specialty trades.
Despite an improving economy, college graduates face limited and competitive employment opportunities. Community colleges such as CLC are able to offer post-secondary education and training uniquely designed to meet the needs of both the community and local employers.
CLC’s Employer Partnership Program helps students transition from school to work through partnerships with more than 250 Lake County employers. It’s important we maintain this personal connection between the community, school, and potential employers.
- Maintain Fiscal Responsibility.
We need a Trustee who will ensure funds are spent appropriately and goals are met based on CLC’s strategic plan.
Accumulating debt as a means of balancing the budget is unacceptable. In 2015, Lake County paid approximately $405M in expenses, collected $444M in revenue, and carried $247M in debt. The state of Illinois spent $75B on what should have been a $71B budget addressing $141B of debt. Our Federal government spent $4.3T while producing only $3.7T in revenue and making payments on $18.3T of debt. Education received 27% of State funding and merely 2% of Federal funding.
Moving all future funding for public education from the state to the local level is currently under consideration. If legislators move in this direction, school boards will be hard pressed to find ways to cover expenses.
Conservative spending and identifying opportunities to accommodate the instability of State and Federal funding are critical. Ongoing internal review and monthly monitoring reports for each project help target areas where operational costs can be reduced. Course enrollment should also be analyzed regularly to identify options for consolidation.
Alternative sources of revenue such as private donations and scholarships should be pursued. Other fundraising options to consider include alumni support, foundations, online campaigns, crowdfunding, investment-based models, and non-cash gifts. Grants are another funding source that should be consistently explored.
– Paid for by Friends of Gerri Songer –
A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board’s official website or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.