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John A. Logan College Board approves layoffs

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CARTERVILLE -- After more than four hours of deliberation, The John A. Logan Board of Trustees approved 55 faculty and staff layoffs.

The trustees voted in favor of the layoffs with a 7-1 vote, the lone dissenting vote belonging to student trustee Brandi Husch.

More than 300 people packed the Carterville-based college’s O’Neil Auditorium during the marathon meeting. After all the seats were filled, attendees lined up against the wall and overflowed into the foyer outside.

Board members heard comments from more than three dozen students, former students, faculty, staffers and community members, many of whom used their 3 to 5 minutes at the mic to advocate for the educators who changed their lives -- and whose jobs hang in the balance.

Some speakers welled up as they recalled transformative moments and advocated for threatened programs. Other speakers’ words inspired standing ovations and boisterous applause from onlookers.

Many used their time to call out college leaders for what faculty member Kathleen Carl described as a “short-sighted and ill-conceived plan” to eliminate 38 percent of the college’s full-time instructors, many of them long-time, tenured faculty with deep roots at the college.

Full-time faculty members make up 35 of the 55 employees whose jobs were at risk.

“Are we a sports facility or are we an education facility?” said Lauren Horrell, a first-year dental assistant student, causing audience members to rise in a standing ovation.

Interim President Ron House has said about $300,000 in cuts are possible for the athletics department.

Horrell and others also questioned why the board is not considering cutting programs at the Community Health and Education Complex, a physical education facility that has run a deficit in recent years.

“I beg of you to try to save money from other areas,” Horrell added. “It is definitely not impossible. Please, do not ruin other dreams.”

College administrators recommended the mass layoffs in order to shore up a $7 million budget gap created, they said, by budget stalemate in Springfield, which has left Illinois public colleges and universities without state funding for more than eight months.

“I wish that the governor and the speaker of the House and the president of Senate were sitting at this table tonight having to make this decision,” interim President Ron House said before the comments section. “It might give them a different perspective on this bullying match” they’re engaged in.

For Michael Dunn, an alumnus whose children have attended JALC, such drastic reductions in force will leave the college irreversibly impacted.

“How can this ship continue to sail if you throw overboard your most valuable crew members?” Dunn said.

Asked if administrators will replace full-time faculty with less expensive term, or part-time instructors, House said they will on a “temporary basis.” Some speakers questioned the wisdom of that decision.

“I will gladly take my grade point average and my money to a school that can give me” better opportunities, said a second-year student who had planned to re-enroll at JALC next year but has since changed her mind. “I don’t want to sit in class with part-time faculty who I’m not going to learn anything from.”

sarah.graham@thesouthern.com

618-351-5076

@SHalaszGraham​

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CARTERVILLE — Disheartened by 55 layoffs and frustrated by the impact of eight months without state funding, a group of John A. Logan College …

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