By Dennis Minich
Metropolitan Community College is interested in developing a presence in Harrisonville and based on the showing of local residents, along with city and school officials, the feeling appears to be mutual.
About 50 participants were on hand Oct. 14 at the Harrisonville Community Center to listen as the leaders of MCC talked about bringing services to the city. MCC had approached the county about bringing services to the area in 2007, but the project never got off the ground because voters rejected the idea of joining the taxing district. The current chancellor, Kimberly Beatty, said the taxing plan will not be a deciding factor this time around.
“I am not here to advocate for a ballot initiative,” Beatty said. “We are going to serve Cass County because Cass County is in our service area. I am committed to the service area, not just the taxing district. Anything we do in Harrisonville will be based on the service area. We have a site in St. Joseph, but it’s not part of the taxing district.”
Beatty explained the MCC area runs as far north at St. Joseph and runs south to parts of Bates County. She explained areas which pay taxes into the district get a 50-percent reduction in tuition for students, but the college is here to serve the entire district.
While some in attendance expressed optimism about a campus in Harrisonville, Beatty said such a plan would be in the future.
She explained there are three avenues which can be taken. The first is a “site” which means there are less than 500 students. In a site, there are classes, but most resources would not be available locally. The second phase is a “center” which would have more students and it would provide local student services. Finally, would be the “campus” phase, which is “obviously much larger,” she said.
MCC is in the second year of its current three-year strategic plan. During this cycle, college officials are working to get the site going in St. Joseph. Beatty said the outcome of the project is still to be determined.
“If we are going to provide a service it has to work. We are in the second year in St. Joseph and we have 166 students. We hope to get to 300,” Beatty said.
While the administrators said they hoped to have Harrisonville in the next strategic plan, which would start in the 2022-23 school year, Beatty said they will not wait until then to get things started. During a discussion session, the desire to align Cass Career Center with MCC was noted, an idea Beatty said will take place.
“The first step is partnering with Cass Career Center. I think we could get that going as early as January,” Beatty said.
MCC has six campuses and a current enrollment of more than 27,000 students. Currently, the MCC has working arrangements with the Ray-Pec, Belton and Midway school districts.