In a plan that make take two years or more, Metropolitan Community College plans to close its Business and Technology campus in Kansas City and spread those programs across the other four campuses, including Blue River in Independence.
MCC commissioned a ““strategic location and programmatic” study to look at how the space was being used at Business and Technology and the other four campuses. MCC was looking for the assignable square footage per student at each campus, and found that it had too much space for the amount of students at the B&T campus off Front Street in the East Bottoms.
Business and Technology, which has a little more than 1,000 students, had a square footage per student of 450, well above 89, which is the national average for institutions in MCC’s peer group.
“This is a data-informed decision,” MCC Chancellor Kimberly Beatty said. “... What this study helped us to confirm is our plan of how to move forward. Not only did we learn that Blue River is tight, we learned that Maple Woods is tight and Longview is on the border of tight, but those places also have a lot of land, so there’s opportunities for expansion there.”
That could mean possible brick-and-mortar expansion in the near future for the Blue River campus on Missouri 78 in eastern Independence, as well as the Longview campus in Lee’s Summit and the Maple Woods campus in the Northland. The Penn Valley campus in mid-town Kansas City will likely not expand because it is landlocked, but it will likely be assigned some of the programs from the B&T campus.
The study was concluded in May, and now MCC is working on how to relocate Business and Technology’s wide range of programs, which include cybersecurity, welding, industrial technology and computer-aided drafting. Beatty said administration hopes to present that plan to the Board of Trustees for a vote in September, and no later than October.
Beatty also said another reason for downsizing was that the campus was difficult to get to for students who did not have a car. There is only one bus stop along Front Street.
“So the steps are to develop the plan,” Beatty said. “We’re working with the faculty and staff and Business and Technology Campus, and they’ve already developed a draft of a plan, and now we’re going to really sift through that plan and make sure it makes sense, and align that with the study.”
If the trustees approve the plan, it will be then sent to the Missouri Board of Higher Education for approval.
Beatty said the Business and Technology campus will remain open and fully functional through at least the 2018-19 school year and likely through the 2019-20 school yearl.
“Minimally, we’re probably looking at two years to fully close that campus,” Beatty said. “It’s not an easy move. What we need to do is to just confirm, ‘OK, this makes sense to do something like this.’ Again, I want to make it clear, that our board has to approve any time we dispose of property, any sale, and none of that has happened. Now we’ve got the data to inform our steps and how we need to move forward.”
She added that no programs will be eliminated, just moved to different campuses.
“We’re not going to have any disruption of service for our students, our faculty or our staff,” Beatty said. “Our plan is to keep everyone in those programs and keep them moving.”
Beatty said she sees it as a good thing for the Blue River campus and Independence.
“Positive, it can only be positive because the best-case scenario is that we would have more programs that would be closing skill gaps and they’d be housed at Blue River,” she said. “Some programs are going to have to come to Blue River, not that they have space for it currently, but there’s room in that campus to (expand). So I would imagine that it’s all good, there’s no negative, there’s no downside to it.
“They’re going to pick up some programs. I don’t know how many yet or what those programs will be, which means they’re going to pick up some enrollment and it might make each program even larger. ... We just have to think about the best plan to make that work and forecast what the ROI (return on investment) would be on that.”