Administrative reports included an update on the recent budget passed by the General Assembly. Officials note that the college will end the fiscal year 2017 (FY 17) in the black now with state funding and expect a balanced budget for FY 18.
The 10 percent reduction of funds in the FY 18 appropriation as compared to FY 15 funds will be mitigated by the cost savings engaged by the college last year.
“We’re on pretty solid ground, and this state budget—while obviously controversial—was vital for all of higher education as there were no court orders like there were for some state services to pay for things like student aid,” said President Dr. Jonah Rice.
“Illinois has much yet to do, of course. However, to go a third year with no budget for higher education would have led to even more mass layoffs statewide to core programs and the elimination of vital services across the board,” said Rice. “We hope that the Governor and General Assembly will compromise on other issues that need to be addressed in a bi-partisan, collaborative fashion.
“As I’ve said before, we hope for common sense, common ground, and the common good.”
The board also heard updates on the new Ella Elizabeth Hise Museum of Regional Art, funded by private donation. Architectural work is underway and a more in-depth design session is planned in the coming weeks. The board also learned how the three-quarter of a million dollar endowment will function to operate the facility.
“The endowment will help pay for cleaning, security, electricity, staffing, and other related expenses,” said Rice. “This is such an exciting and progressive time for Southeastern given our new grant-funded mine facility and of course the new Hise Museum.”
In action, the board voted to change health care plans from Blue Cross/Blue Shield to a self-managed plan offered through Williams and Associates of Harrisburg.
“Due to increases over the past decade and the uncertainty in Washington, DC on healthcare, many organizations and local governments are turning to self-funded plans with stop loss insurance coverage,” said Executive Dean of Business Affairs, David Wright.
Officials noted employees should see no major changes to benefits and will provide educational forums and meetings in the coming months as the change will not occur until Jan. 1.
The board also took action on a general obligation bond to help with cash flow as state funding trickles in over the next year. Given the uncertainty of next year’s budget (FY 19), this bond will help with cash flow and deferred maintenance, according to Wright.
Change orders for the sidewalk project at a cost of $23,806 and the new mine building construction project for $15,292 were also approved.
In personnel, the board approved the employment of Mary Gillard as Director of Business Services, Lexie Hopkins as Financial Aid Specialist, Rachel Parish as High School Recruiter/Dual Credit Coordinator, and Wendy Johnson as part time Food Service Assistant. The board also approved the transfers of Ben Ross from the Building Illinois’ Bioeconomy Project Coordinator to Career and Technical Education Special Projects Coordinator and Keturah Tanner from part time bookstore clerk to Administrative Assistant to the Executive Dean of Academic Services.
In addition, the board accepted the resignation of Administrative Assistant to Executive Dean of Academic Services, Angela Sweet; Custodian, Gary Conley; and High School Recruiter and Dual Credit Coordinator, Ashley Schultz; and approved a number of adjunct faculty recommendations.
The board also approved contracts with the faculty association, classified staff, and exempt staff. Health care deductibles and monthly contributions were increased per agreements. Salaries were increased one percent plus the step value on the faculty salary scale.
The next meeting of the board will be Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room at SIC.