CLC trustee candidates address student tuition costs
Student tuition is one of the issues addressed by candidates seeking two College of Lake County board seats in the April 4 election.
Voters won't be lacking for choice in the election. The seven candidates on the ballot for two 6-year terms are Catherine Finger, Loretta Dorn, James Creighton Mitchell Jr., Michele Vaughn, Julie Shroka, Gerri Songer and Matthew Stanton.
Trustees Lynda Paul and Jeanne Goshgarian are not seeking re-election.
Earlier this week, the CLC board approved a $3-per-credit-hour tuition increase for the 2017-18 academic season instead of $6 recommended by administrators. That will bring total tuition and fees to $138 per credit hour.
All seven CLC trustee candidates in the April 4 election spoke about student tuition during Daily Herald editorial board endorsement interviews this week.
Mitchell, 73, of Lindenhurst, is a retiree who has served on the Lake County Regional Board of School Trustees and Lake Villa Public Library board. He said the tuition hike was wrong because "students shouldn't have to bear the burden of bad management practices."
Vaughn, 41, of Grayslake, who is employed in nonprofit and leadership training, said CLC must be kept as affordable as possible for students.
"As a board, it is our duty to understand what are the funding streams from state level, federal level as it relates to other grant opportunities that maybe we are not looking into that we may need to be looking into so that to ensure those gaps are filled as it relates to making education possible," said Vaughn, a former associate dean of community education at Grayslake-based CLC.
Finger, 56, retiring superintendent of Grayslake High School District 127 who lives in the village, said tuition pricing will be a challenge until CLC's revenue streams from the state and elsewhere are stabilized. She said a minimal tuition increase is reasonable.
"And I think to have small, incremental increases over time that are predictable, that our students can plan for, can be part of the solution," Finger said.
Songer, 52, an educator from Hawthorn Woods, said she would want to hold the line on tuition if elected to the CLC board and criticized debt incurred with construction projects. She ran as Democrat in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat Republican Aaron Lawlor for a Lake County Board seat in November.
"I cannot even begin to express my concerns regarding funding," Songer said. "Funding for public education, including community colleges, the main sources will be tuition, state and federal and property taxes."
Stanton, 56, of Gurnee, a lawyer who unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat against Republican Mike Nerheim for Lake County state's attorney in November, said he would have opposed the $3 tuition increase.
Shroka, 57, of Grayslake, who's retired from her job as CLC's director of alumni relations and special events, said the $6 tuition hike the administration had wanted would have been difficult for students to afford. She said she likely would have approved a $3 hike because officials are grappling with potential employee layoffs or boosting tuition for more revenue.
"But it's really upsetting," Shroka added, "because every time you increase tuition, you decrease access to education for students."
Dorn, 53, is a Volo resident who's director of clinical operations for the Lake County Health Department. She said while she would encourage seeking increased operating efficiencies to maximize CLC's revenue, the $3 tuition increase was acceptable and "better than $30,000 in debt" students could incur at a four-year university.
"You get a lot of quality (at CLC) for your value," Dorn said.