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SIC Board Gets Update on Carmi Expansion and Approves Retiree Incentives, Healthcare Increase, Tax Levy

December 4, 2020

The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees met Tuesday, Dec. 1, in the Heritage Room on the Harrisburg campus to discuss action items and reports ranging from retiree incentives and health insurance to the Carmi expansion and intersession classes.

In action items, the board approved a new policy on retiree incentives providing additional compensation for those who have given at least a decade of full-time service, yet also served in a part-time capacity for a period of time. Administration said retirees from SIC mean a lot to the institution, and this latest incentive is one more valuable benefit of the Retiree Program Benefits policy the board enacted a few years ago.

“SIC is a great place to work, and we’ve had so many people retire from here after a long, fulfilling career,” said President Dr. Jonah Rice.

“This policy is something we look at periodically to ensure our commitment to those who have helped make SIC a great institution,” added board member Richard Morgan.

Regarding health insurance, the board approved a slight increase for the upcoming year. Since switching to a partially self-funded plan a few years ago, the college has curbed increases in health care costs. The increase for next year is around $50,000, however, due to some significant claims this past year. The current plan is still considerably less expensive than a traditional plan.

The board also approved the tax levy for next year, which will not include any need for an increase that would require voter approval. In fact, the bond and interest levy will be less for fiscal year 2021 than in 2020.

“The Board is sensitive to the taxpayer,” said board member Blake Bradley. “It’s good to see that bond and interest levy drop.”

The board heard a report from SIC Board Vice Chair and Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA) representative, Dr. Frank Barbre. The ICCTA developed their annual legislative goals, emphasizing equity in education. They anticipate cuts to higher education as the graduated income tax was defeated by voters, so reductions will be likely for all state agencies and services. The range of cuts could hit nearly 10% for next fiscal year. SIC relies on the state for 40% of its annual revenue.

The board also approved the annual audit, conducted by Kemper CPA, which was very positive and had no significant findings.

In non-action items, the board reviewed a COVID student survey. Students who responded rated services during COVID transition services very high. The study found that SIC students do worry about long-term adjustments and lack of internet access.

“Rural America has a great need for high-speed internet,” said Rice. “Our nation needs to view the internet along the same lines as water and electricity. It needs to be everywhere for quality of life reasons.”

During remote scheduling, SIC allows students to access the internet in its parking lots at both the Harrisburg campus and its David L. Stanley White County Center in Carmi, as well as in multiple student spaces during open business hours.

The board also heard about a highly positive Five-Year Recognition Review of SIC by the Illinois Community College Board.

“SIC came through our state review with flying colors!” exclaimed Rice.

Board member David Dennison remarked, “We are so proud of all the great work our staff and faculty do to make the SIC experience a rewarding one.”

The board reviewed the annual campus wide assessment activity report compiled by Cory Garmane, head of the music department, and Dr. Tyler Billman, Executive Dean of Academic Services.

In other reports, the State of Illinois Capital Development Board (CDB) has selected an architect for the White County Center Expansion Project: White & Borgognoni Architects, P.C. in Carbondale. The CDB chooses the architect for the college, and the local choice should be a good fit for the project, according to SIC Chief Financial Officer Lisa Hite. The project which has been on the state list for 20 years will provide vital career and technical education support and training for local industry, particularly welding, mechanics, and the trades.

The board also heard reports on new initiatives on enrollment growth including new audiences and targeted populations.

“We will engage new venues to tap into new audiences who maybe haven’t seen the benefit of an education here close to home,” said Dr. Chad Flannery, Executive Dean of Student Services.

“We also plan on experimenting with new scheduling to adapt to emerging learner needs,” said Vice President Dr. Karen Weiss.

The first of these is a winter intersession four-week, 3-credit hour sociology class, scheduled for Dec. 30-Jan. 25. If successful, more such opportunities are expected in upcoming intersessions.

In personnel, the board approved many adjunct instructors.

The next meeting of the board will be held Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 6 p.m. in the Heritage Room on the SIC Harrisburg campus. More information about SIC can be found at www.sic.edu.

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