Chris Jenner

Demographics

Independent

58

Cary, IL

Bachelor's Degree, Engineering - Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Master's Degree, Business Administration - Marketing and Operations, Illinois Institute of Technology

Master's Degree, Science - Telecommunications, DePaul University

Operations Manager, Nokia Siemens Networks (formerly Motorola)

Married, Laurie Jenner

Lee Jenner, 23

Luke Jenner, 22

Mel Jenner, 19

Video

See recent video below of Chris Jenner talking about the issues.

On the Record

What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?

I’m in my eighth year of service on the Cary D-26 school board. I’ve been on the Policy Committee all eight years, and have been committee chair for six years. I’ve authored many “good governance” policies which will apply just as well at MCC as they have in D-26, including a policy that prohibits the district from incurring debt without voter approval. The one year I was chair of the D-26 Finance Committee, D-26 had its first balanced budget in several years. I made tough votes to close two D-26 schools -- D-26 had overbuilt, and it was the right thing to do. I’ve taken the Illinois Attorney General’s Open Meetings Act training, and understand and have experience with Roberts Rules of Order. Additionally, I have over 25 years of customer service and business experience, and training and experience in quality techniques such as Digital Six Sigma. I’ve been personally responsible for budgets as large as $12 million. I also have a long history of volunteer work within Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and D-26.

Do you support the college’s long-term expansion plan? Explain.

Not in its current form. Enrollment in many McHenry County K-12 schools is declining, so MCC’s projected enrollment growth numbers are highly questionable. The first part of the project being proposed can’t be justified in its current form. The proposal nearly doubles MCC’s classroom/lab space, when utilization of MCC’s existing classroom/lab space is about 50%. The proposal calls for a health club when McHenry County already has 20, some of which are struggling for customers or even closing. The firm doing the “feasibility” (justification) study has a clear conflict of interest. Professional literature on the use of consultants makes very clear that conflicts of interest are not only to be avoided, they cannot be cured retroactively. MCC has no plans to ask the voters to approve the project, when the funding method clearly puts property taxpayers at risk for a big tax hike. Expansion of MCC may be warranted, but it needs to be approached with more common sense, openness, and more accurate numbers.

Would you support freezing the college’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?

Yes! MCC has sizeable reserves and is not cash strapped. Spending should be scrutinized and policies put in place to ensure spending is effective, efficient, and directed at the college’s primary job of educating students. McHenry County and Illinois already have high tax rates. The economy is still in the tank. Taxpayers are tapped. State revenues are at record highs, yet the state continues to be delinquent on its bills and continues to cut funding to agencies and schools. There is more than enough public money available to adequately fund education and hold tuition in check. It’s a matter of getting the money to the right place. The first step needs to be meaningful pension reform. The problem is not that the state, i.e. the taxpayers, aren’t paying their fare share. The problem is that since 1970, politicians over promised far more “sweeteners” than the pension systems could afford or sustain.

What one decision by the board do you most disagree with and why?

Approval of spending $85,000 for the first two phases of a “feasibility study” for a $42 million Health Sciences and Health Club facility. The results are tainted and can’t be used because Power Wellness performed the studies knowing they were being considered to be a financial partner in the project. It’s a clear conflict of interest, and cannot be undone. Other decisions I considered to answer this question are financing the $42 million project without asking the voters, and approving a 9.9% tax levy increase in 2012.

What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?

Taking time to deliberate on the proposed $42 million Health Sciences and Health Club facility, and having a trustee on the committee that is reviewing the “feasibility studies.” Being an “outsider” to MCC and to the education industry in general, I will bring different views to the table than the current board and several other candidates. I believe diverse perspectives foster needed robust conversations and better decisions.

Outside of any issues already discussed, what one or two things would you try to accomplish if you are elected?

(1) Hold tuition flat (the $8 per credit hour “student infrastructure fee” proposed to help pay for the $42 million Health Sciences project *is* a tuition increase, even if it’s called something else). (2) implement many of the “good governance” policies I wrote that were adopted in D-26. These include “No pay for play” (ensuring vendors that support tax hike referendum or board member campaigns aren’t rewarded with district business), never issuing bonds without going to the voters, voluntary transparency (posting more information than the legal minimum), and accountability in vendor selection including non-collusion.