After hearing impassioned pleas and emotional testimonies of the value of the Counseling Department, the McHenry County College Board voted to “honorably dismiss” the four employees, plus three administrators and twelve support staff.
The explanation offered was declining enrollment and having gotten now financial assistance from State government in two years,
Numerous Latinas testified to the value of 32-year counselor Louisa Lauf to the institution.
“Who do I go to?” one student asked Board members.
“Thank you for serving the Hispanic community,” another said.
Feelings were intensified because the four counselors were only given five minutes to clean out their personal belongings and then escorted out of the building by campus police.
“I am appalled,” former MCC employment tutor and Equality Club advisor esclaimed.
The decisions, which obviously had been decided in private meetings, were approved on 8-0 votes, except for two dissents on the resolution to eliminate the Counseling Department.
There Ron Parrish and Student Trustee Colin Worden voted “No.”
Here is the college’s press release:
McHenry County College Board Approves Reductions in Force in the Wake of Ongoing State Funding Challenges
[March 9, 2017.Crystal Lake, IL] At a special Board Meeting on Thursday, March 9, the MCC Board of Trustees approved three resolutions for a reduction in personnel.
The Board’s vote of 7-0 to reduce staff positions, 6-1 to reduce faculty positions, and 7-0 to reduce administrative positions is part of a broader plan to shrink overall College spending and create a balanced budget.
This current reduction in force follows a year of multiple measures to reduce College spending, in light of a projected loss of $1.7 million in operating funds for FY 2017, including reductions in travel and other general expenses, and a freeze on rehiring non-essential positions.
Now, into the second year of a state budget impasse, MCC is owed nearly $1.5 million base operating state funding for the current fiscal year.
A total of 25 positions were affected, including administration, professional/classified, and faculty positions.
Six positions currently open due to retirement or vacancy will not be refilled.
Five positions are being reduced from full-time to part-time status, while 14 full and part-time positions are being eliminated.
“Really good people, through no fault of their own, are losing their jobs. This is a painful truth,” stated MCC President, Dr. Clint Gabbard.
“At the same time, we will continue to be innovative and creative in serving this great community.
“We will do more with less, because our students deserve our best efforts.
“Students are not responsible for this financial crisis, and we will do everything possible to protect the integrity of the education that they receive.”
Employees in the affected positions were informed that their positions would be eliminated and/or reduced, effective immediately.
Individuals were offered options to either apply for other internal positions or accept a comprehensive severance package that includes health benefits, outplacement services and support, and unemployment options.
“This has been an extraordinarily challenging process for all, and we are empathetic to all who have been adversely affected, “said MCC Chairman, Mike Smith.
“We have been diligent in our recognition of the diverse stakeholder needs throughout the community.
“In spite of the difficult, perhaps unprecedented times we face due to the budget stalemate in Springfield, we as a Board have the responsibility to govern the institution with the imperative being student success.
“We feel strongly that the senior administration has developed a very prudent process to support the institution and its financial condition, ensuring that we will continue to meet the needs of, and the critical success factors for, our students.”
With the Board-approved reduction in force, a total of 34 positions will have been reduced in this fiscal year (July 2016—June 2017) coming from a combination of position vacancies/retirements not being refilled, reductions from full-time to part-time, and eliminations.
Prior reductions in FY 2017 from restructuring or not refilling open positions resulted in saving the College approximately $580,000.
The reductions approved at Thursday’s meeting are expected to save the College $1.5 million in FY 2018 for long-term financial stability, while allowing MCC to still effectively serve students and meet its mission of student success.
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Although no public action was taken, it was revealed that three new employees will be hired.
One will be a social worker who will refer students to counseling services off campus.
Two others will be “Success Counselors.”
From an NPR story I heard out about a Brooklyn junior college, Success Counselors are assigned students to bird dog while they are attending college.
They will also be deployed to high schools, such as Harvard’s, to make contact with students as early as 9th grade, according to Gabbard.
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The positions and names of those losing their jobs follow:
Counselors laid off were
- P. Zokal
- L. Lauf
- A. Taylor
- E. Zimmerman
Gabbard revealed that the Fiscal Year 2018 budget would be balanced and that the cost of the three new employees had been subtracted from the savings from the Reduction in Force.
In public comment recent graduate Brendan Slovacek questioned the reductions would cover the $5 million deficit he found in the 2016 budget.