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SIC Board Discusses Finances and Student Opportunities

The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees met on Dec. 6 to hear an exceptional audit report and a tax levy presentation.

Matt Businaro from Kemper CPA presented the annual external audit to the board and gave the college high marks for a clean audit with no findings.

“I hope I can brag about the employees in open session,” said Businaro.  “This audit reflects good practice by the administration and staff.”

A $2.8 million reduction in state funding was the cause of a net decrease in SIC’s general fund operating reserves of $1.8 million.  Through proactive planning in preparation for a state budget shortfall, the college was able to reduce the effect of the state reduction on operating reserves.

Executive dean of business affairs, David Wright, gave the board the annual tax levy presentation.  In the 2016 tax levy, the college was able to meet the board’s goals of a stabilized tax rate along with the tax levy increase low enough not to require a public hearing.

In other business, the board approved a new technical agriculture certificate in response to local Ag producers.

“This certificate program was truly a collaborative effort between college staff and our ag industry partners,” stated Dr. Karen dr-karen-weissWeiss, vice president of academic affairs.  “We listened to the industry experts and developed this program to meet the specific needs of the Ag community.  We hope to begin offering classes as early as this spring.”

Executive dean of academic services, Gina Sirach, provided a report on Bridging the Gap, a dual credit grant between local high schools and SIC on college readiness.

“This is a great opportunity to break down barriers and build opportunities for college readiness for high school students.  The purpose of the grant is to reduce remediation and promote student readiness for college level coursework and the seamless transition from high school to college,” said Sirach.

“We will be working with high schools in our district who choose to participate to provide dual credit courses in English and math during the spring semester.  We will also be offering a summer bridge course in English for high school students to emphasize the connection between high school and college curriculum,” added Sirach.

gina-sirachThe board also heard a report from Sirach on career and technical education (CTE) spotlight days for local high school students, which was held on Dec. 2.  Nearly 140 students registered with the following schools and number of participants in attendance:  Carmi-White County (22), Vienna (20), Carrier Mills (22), Hardin Co (22), Galatia (12), Norris City (12), Harrisburg, (6), and others.

According to Sirach, “High school students learned about different CTE program options by interacting with current SIC students and faculty.  The true value for students is the engagement with faculty, and in some instances, direct, hands-on activities in the different program areas.”

President Jonah Rice, Ph.D., also reviewed the latest financial news with the board, emphasizing the necessity for the state to get a budget.  He emphasized after the meeting the necessity for statesmanship in Springfield to avoid more cuts in all of higher education.

“I see this as an economic development issue.  Without solid workforce and academic training, Illinois is less marketable to potential and current employers,” Rice said.

Rice pointed out how interconnected the college is with local industry like healthcare and mining, as well.

“This spiral of political posturing and ideological warfare must end for the good of the State,” said Rice.

In personnel items, the board approved the transfer of Michelle Metten to director of financial aid; accepted the resignations of Dominique Taylor, Dara Cox, and Shelly Boots; approved the reduction in force of the full-time psychology instructor position and a reduction in force of the adult education coordinator and data manager positions.

The next meeting of the SIC Board of Trustees is scheduled for Jan. 17, 2017 at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room on SIC’s Harrisburg campus.