INA, Ill. – “Now is the time to plan.”
That’s what State Rep. John Cavaletto (R-Salem) said this afternoon while attending Rend Lake College’s Facilities Master Plan meeting on the Ina campus. At the meeting, community members and college officials worked together on ideas for future programs and facilities at the main campus and satellite campuses in Mt. Vernon and Pinckneyville.
According to RLC President Charley D. Holstein, the plan includes a comprehensive look at the physical environment of the campus and how that environment helps RLC succeed in its educational mission. It also includes an assessment of existing buildings, utility usage, information technology infrastructure, environmental impact, roads and parking, as well as space needs and academic planning.
“It lays a foundation for the future of the college,” RLC Interim Vice President of Finance and Administration Bob Carlock said of the Master Plan.
Individuals who work and live in the communities RLC serves were invited to attend the meeting and offer their input about that future. Carlock used Cavaletto as an example of the kind of resource these people are to college leaders who make decisions on where to go from here.
“[Cavaletto’s] someone who can help us as the years go on,” Carlock said. “Our legislators have been extremely supportive of Rend Lake College. They are instrumental in us being able to accomplish things here.”
Whether it’s a congressman like Cavaletto or a local high school principal like Jon Green from Pinckneyville, the college held the meeting to generate ideas together. Carlock even called on members of the media who were there to offer opinions if they had any. They did.
“An idea may be a new building or a new type of program perhaps, if someone sees a need in the college district,” Carlock said.
The focus group was given documents by RLC Physical Plant Director Randall Shively that showed what goes into a master plan, what projects are currently underway, and overviews of District #521, and RLC campuses. He also mentioned several potential projects that college officials are considering, in addition to an art program addition, allied health building, physical rehabilitation and fitness center, telecommunications center and physical plant building. Those five projects are all on the college’s latest Resource Allocation Management Plan that is submitted annually to the Illinois Community College Board.
Green asked about more certificate programs being offered for his students at Pinckneyville Community High School. Others talked about green programs, courses on existing and emerging technology, spin-offs from current programming at the college and curriculum perhaps never thought of by college leaders in years past.
“I thought we had good input from the different people who attended,” Carlock said. “And while we didn’t have a large number of people, we had a good quality selection who gave us some good advice and we are going to do it again.”
“I think now is the time to be talking ... planning ... not building,” Cavaletto said while pointing out that Illinois is $13 to $14 billion in debt and on the hook to service providers like RLC for $5 billion now. According to Carlock, the college has been notified that it will receive $1.3 million in equalization payments from fiscal year 2010 and anticipates further payments to catch up for FY2011.
Carlock said he has faith the state will gain ground and the college can begin to operate under normal conditions again.
“We are going to continue to be optimistic,” Carlock said. “And we are going to continue to plan for the future.”
“Planning is being ready in case things start to happen,” Cavaletto said. “I don’t expect [Illinois] to be in debt four or five years from now.”