Public hearing delayed for $2 million college project

A public hearing with detailed plans for an estimated $2 million classroom labs renovation project at Marshalltown Community College was pushed back two months by the Iowa Valley Community College District board.

The hearing was originally scheduled for Wednesday’s meeting, but was pushed back to Feb. 5 due to a engineer coming on board late in the design process.

MCC Provost Robin Lilienthal said the delay will not affect the timeline for work on the project, which is expected in 2014. The project includes updates to the advanced manufacturing and health occupations labs at MCC.

These new labs will provide for more hands-on and simulated experience for students. The project is expected to be paid for by state funds through the Accelerated Career Education (ACE) program.

“It really is needed to make the lab spaces the most effective way to train,” Lilienthal said.

In other discussion during the meeting, two Iowa Valley leaders spoke out against a proposed tuition freeze for Iowa’s community colleges.

“That’s not a precedent that we want to get into,” said Iowa Valley Chancellor Chris Duree. “That’s why we have locally-elected boards.”

Duree doesn’t feel this proposal would have much traction as a bill in the Iowa Legislature next year.

Iowa Valley Board President Conrad Dejardin was in tune with Duree on the subject of a tuition freeze for community colleges.

“That’s something we want to avoid,” Dejardin said. “It would take a whole lot more (state) money than what we’ve got now.”

The next regular meeting of the college board will be at 4 p.m. Jan. 8 at the college district office in Marshalltown.