What you need to know about the April 2019 election
Name: Julie Johnson
Position Seeking: Lewis and Clark Clark Community College Board of Trustees
Campaign website: email - LCCCcandidates2019@gmail.com
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I know that LCCC is an integral part of our education system in Central and Southern Illinois. I want to make sure it is financially stable and viable long into the future. My education as an accountant including an MBA will be useful for this position. I have skills from managing businesses and financial experience that will help ensure the college is managed properly. I have lived in the community for over 20 years and I feel this is a good way for me to give back to my community.
What are the most important issues the facing the community college, and how would you approach them? The college offers a low cost education alternative in our area and this needs to continue. However, declining enrollment will make this a challenge. One of the important issues is the high amount of debt on the college’s books. This has led to high debt service payments and increases in taxes (+65% since 2001). Although enrollment is declining, assets (property and buildings) are increasing. Administrative costs compared to other community colleges in the state are also very high even though enrollment is mid-range compared to other community colleges. The college needs to assess what resources are necessary and use them wisely to provide an outstanding education to all students in the district.
Under what circumstances would you vote to raise property taxes or fees for the college? I would hope to never raise property taxes or fees. I hope to find ways to decrease costs rather than increase fees and taxes.
What are your goals for the community college/what do you want to accomplish? I want the college to continue to provide relevant and useful education resources for our community in a fiscally responsible way. This will allow the college to continue long into the future. Periodic review of management policies and expenditures will help accomplish this goal. Transparency is another goal and the key to proper management of this public entity.
Enrollment has been dropping at community colleges around the state. How should schools try to reverse that trend? Enrollment decline is a concern however, I believe if you offer a product that makes sense for students, you will continue to be competitive in the education market place. The college must work with local industries and employers to ensure they are offering job training that will allow students to get good jobs when they graduate. Additionally, the cost of education at universities continues to increase at a high rate. Students attending LCCC can avoid these higher costs but still obtain transferable college credits that count towards their degree. LCCC should have an aggressive marketing campaign at the high schools within the district to show the benefits of attending LCCC. This will help maintain or increase enrollment.