Endorsements: Parrish, Smith, Tirio for McHenry County College board
Much of the political infighting that dogged the McHenry County College board of trustees in recent years appears be a thing of the past. Which is a good thing because, like community colleges across Illinois, MCC will face external challenges in the years ahead -- from expected funding cuts to the changing landscape of higher education -- that make a cooperative, if not unified, board a must.
Incumbents Mike Smith of Lakewood and Ron Parrish of Bull Valley, running together on a slate, are joined by former trustee Scott Summers of Harvard and challenger Jeffrey Hill of Algonquin, in seeking two six-year terms in the April 7 election. Newcomers Karen Tirio of Woodstock, running on the same slate as Smith and Parrish, and Matthew Hardt of McHenry, are running for a four-year term.
Each of the candidates can make a solid case to voters, but the slate of Smith, Parrish and Tirio stands out both for the candidates' familiarity with the college's workings and for their specific ideas for making it better.
Smith, a wealth management consultant appointed to the board in October, makes a strong case for further embracing partnerships between the college and local businesses to expand educational offerings and create new sources of revenue.
Parrish, a businessman turned educator, helped lead an impressive turnaround of Bull Valley's finances during his tenure as village president, and makes a compelling case for the college's need to become more of a "content-oriented" entity by hosting more classes and programs outside the college's own facilities. He foresees the American educational model shifting from K-12 to K-14, with community colleges providing the final two years.
Tirio, who owns and operates a senior care business, would push for initiatives to boost the college's low completion rate and increase online learning offerings. Her business background and firsthand experience of hiring from the college would be an asset to the board.