Chris Jenner: Candidate Profile

Mchenry Commmunity College School Board (6-year Terms) (Independent)

Updated 2/22/2013 6:25 PM
  • Chris Jenner, running for Mchenry Commmunity College School Board (6-year Terms)

    Chris Jenner, running for Mchenry Commmunity College School Board (6-year Terms)



Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Cary

Website: (not online yet)

Office sought: Mchenry Commmunity College School Board (6-year Terms)

Age: 56

Family: Married to Laurie for 22 years. Three children: Leanne, senior at University of Illinois; Luke, Junior at DePaul University; Melanie, junior at Cary-Grove High School.

Occupation: Nokia Siemens Networks (formerly Motorola) for 29 years, currently Operations Manager on the Verizon Wireless account team.

Education: BS University of Illinois 1978, MBA Illinois Institute of Technology 1991, MS DePaul University 1996.

Civic involvement: Edited monthly newsletter for Cub Scout Pack 757, 1999 2003; Boy Scout Merit Badge Counselor 2005 present; Cary District 26 Speech Tournament Judge 2006 present; volunteer, Cary District 26 PALS Reading Program 2011 - 2012.

Elected offices held: Cary District 26 Board of Education, elected 2005, re-elected 2009.

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

The elephant in MCC's living room the proposed $640 million expansion, particularly the $42 million health sciences facility currently being considered. Despite claims, thefeasibility study? was not done by an independent expert. Power Wellness executed the first two phases of thefeasibility study? with the knowledge that it would be considered for joining as a financial partner, should the project be approved. This tainted he results of the Power Wellness studies, and the taint cannot be removed. The facts show that the need for the facility being proposed is highly questionable. It would nearly double the amount of classroom/lab space at MCC, and MCC is not currently bursting at the seams. It adds a health club, when there are already 20 in the county, at least one of which recently closed -- the demand isn't there. And should the project lose money, it would likely lower the funds available for important aspects of college operation, such as employee salaries.

Key Issue 2

MCC is proposing funding the $42 million health sciences project with non-referendum debt, i.e. they don't plan to ask the voters. While they say their method of financing won't put taxpayers at risk, recent studies by the Chicago Tribune suggest otherwise. Issuing bonds without asking the voters would violate the policy on incurring debt in Cary District 26, where I have served on the Policy Committee for 8 years, the past 6 years as chair. The Board of Trustees governs through policy. Although the Board is currently completing a review of its policy manual, there are some additionalgood governance? policies I believe the MCC Board should adopt. In 2007, I authored policy verbiage, which the D-26 Board approved unanimously, that says D-26 will not issue bonds without asking the voters. I?ve authored and advocated a number of othergood governance? policies such as voluntary transparency (making public more information than the law requires), no pay for play, and accountability in vendor selection. If elected, I will bring such policies to the MCC Board for consideration.

Key Issue 3

It's obviously important that MCC provide strong academic programs which produce alumni that meet and exceed the expectations of four year colleges and local businesses. By developing a dashboard and managing with metrics, we can quantify success, ensure MCC is providing the right programs, and ensure the programs it provides are academically rigorous. My training and background in quality and six sigma techniques over many years at Motorola will lend itself well to this area.

Questions & Answers

With enrollment up at my many community colleges, it can be challenging to keep pace as far as available classroom/lab space, the number of qualified teachers and available course work options. How would you manage that?

Manage with metrics. Informal surveys have shown current MCC classroom/lab space is moderately utilized at best. Enrollment in District 26 has been declining steadily for nearly a decade, as it has in many McHenry County elementary, high school, and K-12 districts. Accurate metrics on space utilization and expected enrollment are important to managing any growth. Providing attractive compensation, benefits, and working conditions relative to the market should be used to attract and retain qualified teachers. Surveys of county businesses where employment qualifications are the types of degrees or certificates MCC offers will tell if the college is providing the correct available course work options.

In tough economic times, many students (and working professionals) turn to a community college for its educational value. How do you ensure that a person's financial sacrifice results in an educational benefit?

In these tough economic times, it's great that McHenry County has a top notch community college. Again, collecting (developing, if necessary) accurate and appropriate metrics will allow MCC to quantify the educational benefit its alumni receive. Metrics should include factors such as placement rates, starting salaries, and overall cost of the education received from MCC.

Is a tax rate increase needed and, if so, how do you justify it?

A tax rate increase cannot be justified in McHenry County or in Illinois, considering the already high existing tax rate and the state of the economy. Taxpayers are tapped. State revenues are at record highs, yet the state continues to be delinquent on its bills and continues to cut funding to agencies and schools. There is more than enough public money available to adequately fund education and hold tuition in check. It's a matter of getting the money to the right place. The first step needs to be meaningful pension reform. The problem is not that the state, i.e. the taxpayers, aren't paying their fare share. The problem is that since 1970, politicians over promised far moresweeteners? than the pension systems could afford or sustain.

Community colleges provide many services to a diverse population. Is there a service your college should be providing that it is not, or reaching a segment of the population that it is not?

Metrics, and understanding the needs of county employers and the needs of the four year universities MCC alumni apply to will help answer this. I?d like to better understand the college's current high tech programs. My son's roommate recently completed a two year high tech program in Chicago he entered after graduating from Cary-Grove High School, and had no problem finding a $65,000 a year job. Would an MCC program have enabled him to do that without having to commute downtown for two years?

If you are a newcomer, what prompted you to run for the community college board? If you're an incumbent, list your accomplishments or key initiatives in which you played a leadership role.

MCC is a tremendous asset for the McHenry County community. I?d be honored to contribute to MCC being all it can be. My primary prompting to run for MCC trustee is the Board's approach to the long term $640 million expansion plan, and the $42 million health sciences facility project. It's not at all clear either is justified, although with proper study, data, and documentation, it's possible an expansion of lesser proportion would be needed or appropriate. Effective and efficient use of funds will make MCC's star shine even brighter. Finally, I believe that much of the policy work I have done on the Cary D-26 Board can be applied to MCC.