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Clean Audit, Unfunded Mandate and Recruitment Discussed at SIC Board Meeting

The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees met Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room to approve the annual audit among other business.

The 2017 audit, presented by Kemper CPA firm, was exemplary in that it was unmodified and there were no compliance findings.

“That clean audit demonstrates our commitment to the fiduciary responsibilities entrusted to us,” said Board Chairman, Dr. Pat York.

College President Dr. Rice complimented all staff who helped in the audit process.

“It’s comforting to know we have such great employees who take pride in their work and respect the community we serve to do good work,” said Rice.

Administrators also informed the board about a broad spectrum of recruiting initiatives. The college will increase recruiting in a number of ways, according to Rice, through both active engagement and new program development.

“We are stepping up our game on active recruitment, in-district and in other states, chiefly through tuition rate drops that the board set tonight on border county tuition and fees,” said Rice.  “That, coupled with new programs just around the corner, will provide us the additional tools to appeal to even more audiences.”

Rice informed the board that he and Vice President Karen Weiss have met with about half the district superintendents to discuss many ideas to serve our district, including remediation possibilities and new custom dual credit programs, among other initiatives.

Weiss said after the board meeting that the discussions have been fruitful, and her office has already begun work on some of the offerings.

Board members also heard of the strong interest in the new indoor archery range and competitive archery teams.

“I’ve always said we must reflect our region and be proud of who we are.  Hunting and fishing are part of our culture, and the local interest has just been overwhelming,” said Rice.

Southeastern also hosts the United States Collegiate Archery Association, a national tournament held at Sahara Woods in a 10-year agreement the college negotiated with the national organization and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The board also heard that the SIC nursing program, like all other southern Illinois colleges, is complying with the new state legislation requiring an additional endorsement.  Rice said this is one of the most onerous unfunded mandates he’s seen in his presidency.

“We have the top nursing program in the state with 100 percent pass rates.  We have to now pay to get an endorsement that was passed by the legislature with a huge majority voting in favor of it,” explained Rice. “Because of this new endorsement, we will have to cut our program credit hours at the same time spending more money on the required process.  In the end, we will see about a $200,000 drop in expected revenue.  That’s one heck of an unfunded mandate.”

As such, SIC will increase the at-large numbers it allows into the program with the top entrance scores being allowed in.  This increase will require a new nursing position given the need for an increase in numbers.

The board also approved a student services position to handle multiple operations in that area, especially in terms of testing center direction and external recruitment among other operations in enrollment services.  Additional duties for student organizations are encouraged.

A tax levy increase of three percent was approved by the board.

In personnel, part-time library assistant, Suzy Wilson will retire at the end of this month.

The next meeting of the board will be Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room at SIC.