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JJC Board approves funding strategy to support priority projects

Published: Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013 4:57 a.m. CDT

JOLIET — The Joliet Junior College Board of Trustees approved a funding strategy at its July 30 meeting to finance the construction of priority projects, which include a new multipurpose building on the college’s Main Campus and the expansion of the existing Romeoville Campus.

The funding strategy comprises a $45 million bond issue and a $4 capital assessment fee increase. This student fee will bring the college’s overall tuition rate from $107 to $111 per credit hour, and will support the bond sale. The college’s current bond rating from Standard and Poor’s is AA.

At the July 30 meeting, a public hearing was held on the bond issue, and trustees voted on and approved the capital assessment fee 4-2. Next steps include a vote by college trustees at their Aug. 13 meeting to issue the bonds.

“We are pleased to be moving forward with projects that are essential to the growth and continued success of Joliet Junior College,” said Board Chairman Andy Mihelich. “We want to be the college of choice for students in our district, and improving JJC’s facilities and learning resources is a key step in that direction.”

The multipurpose building and the Romeoville Campus expansion are outlined as priority projects in the college’s 2013 Master Plan Update, which was approved by trustees in April. Completed by Legat Architects, the update reconsiders 2008 master plan projects not yet implemented, examines new projects, and recommends priorities that respond to various challenges facing the college in the future.

Expansion of the Romeoville Campus — constructed in 1993 — is a top priority for the college. In the last 10 years, enrollment at Romeoville has grown 45 percent, with current enrollment topping out at 4,000 students. The master plan calls for additional space for academic programs and student development services to respond to this growth.

“As we expand to meet the growing needs of our students, JJC continues to fulfill its mission of offering affordable and quality programs and services,” said President Debra Daniels.

The multipurpose facility was included in the college’s 2008 master plan, but not implemented. This building, planned for construction on the south side of the college’s Main Campus on Houbolt Road, is envisioned to include athletics, physical education, and conference center and corporate training space.

The board has considered multiple financing plans over the last six months and while developing the approved plan, college administrators visited with student groups to obtain feedback. The new tuition rate, which will go into effect for the spring 2014 semester, still places JJC in the middle of its 16 peer institutions in terms of per-credit-hour cost.

“As the liaison between JJC students and the Board of Trustees, I brought the fee proposal to student government to get their input and hear their concerns,” said Student Trustee Keith Bryant. “After hearing the facts and taking into consideration the need for all students to have access to better learning facilities, we agreed to support the increase.”

For more information, contact Kelly Rohder at (815) 280-2915 or krohder@jjc.edu.

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