CARTERVILLE — Amidst concerns about Illinois’ lack of a state budget and public comments questioning the college’s preliminary budget for fiscal year 2018, the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees announced they would rehire some faculty members who had previously been laid off.
Three tenured faculty members who had their positions terminated during the Spring of 2016 in a contentious round of layoffs, or RIFs (reduction in force), have been reinstated to full time positions.
Molly Alter has been rehired to teach Art, David Evans has been rehired to the Department of English, and Jennifer Watkins has been rehired to the Department of Mathematics. These are positions that were opened up by retirements from those respective departments.
JALC President Ron House said he and the board are working with Matt Garrison, chair of the Impact Bargaining Committee and the English Department Chair, to return the remaining laid off faculty to positions at the college.
“If there is any possible way to bring back additional faculty back for the fall semester, we will do that," House said. "But we are waiting for the state to pass a budget like everybody else. In the meantime, we are tweaking our budget on a daily basis to see if there are any funds that will allow us to do that. Hopefully these are not the only call backs we will get to make.”
House said that if his calculations are correct, these three rehires will leave six tenured faculty that have not been brought back.
House said he couldn’t say if all six would come back if asked, as he knew of two that were working full time elsewhere, but that he believed at least the remaining four would return if given the opportunity.
“We would like all of them brought back before the fall semester," House said. "I am not saying we will recall any, but if there is any possible way to do so, we will do that."
During the public comments section at the beginning of the meeting, Della Fulk, retired coordinator for JALC's Dental Hygiene Program, raised questions about the proposed FY 2018 budget, and questioned the wisdom of selling bonds and incurring debt to pay expenses.
She also asked if it would not be a good idea to find a way to become self-sufficient from the state’s funding issues.
Trustee Ray Hancock said there is good reason to hold the state to its fiscal obligations to fund the college.
“The community college system was set up by law in 1965," Hancock said. "At that time, a third of the funding for the college were to be covered by tuition. That number now lies at slightly below 50 percent. Another third of the funding was supposed to come from local taxes, and we have held that to about 25 percent. The last third was supposed to come from the state.”
Hancock said that if the college were to ask the students and the parents to come up with the money to cover the state’s obligation, that would be unfair to them and would let the state legislature off the hook.
“If we do not demand that the state meet their obligations to us, they will just take the money and spend it somewhere else. I think some of them would like to see that, but that’s not the way it was set up,” House said.
Trustee Jake Rendleman echoed Hancock’s sentiments, and added that blame for the budget impasse should not just be laid at the feet of the squabble between Rauner and Madigan, but that but that it is time for constituents to start holding their local elected official's feet to the fire to effect a compromise that will allow a state budget to pass.
It has been two fiscal years since JALC has received all of its allocated funding from the state. In FY 2016 it received 35 percent while in FY 2017 it received 45 percent. JALC CEO Brad McCormick in a previous interview said that when drawing up the figures to put before the board for the FY 2018 budget, he anticipated receiving 40 percent.