SIC Board of Trustees Discusses Future Budgets, Names Outdoor Complex

December 16, 2014

The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees met Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. to hear multiple reports, including the latest budget news, and take action on numerous items including the naming of the Outdoor Educational Complex, approving the tax levy and audit.

The meeting began with a moment of silence in remembrance of trustee Charles “Chuck” Hearn who recently passed away.

Trustees then heard from the administration the latest updates on funding and the future for higher education and community colleges in the coming months and years.

Officials say the next 48-60 months will require strong stewardship from the Board and SIC campus to deal with the projected shortfalls and delayed payments from state funding.

“In prosperous times it’s easy to manage, but in fiscally tight times it’s going to take some strong leadership,” said David Wright, SIC Chief Financial Officer.“It’s almost a perfect storm of variables coming together--state shortfalls, health care expense, pension reform expense, declining population in the state and region, a low tax base, and so much more. It will be very challenging.”

SIC has submitted a black budget for six years in a row and has maintained a sound financial composite index from its lowest point in the past ten years since 2007, where the College was just 12 months away from a mandatory financial visit from its regional accrediting agency.

“We’ve come a long way, a sometimes painful way at times, but we are solid ground now in order to face more challenging times to come,” said Jim Ellis, trustee, who sits on the budget and finance subcommittee.

Blake Bradley, trustee and a Saline County education professional who monitors State finances closely, added, “Southeastern is a vital part of our community and we must make sure we remain fiscally stable for future generations,”

SIC President, Dr. Jonah Rice also stated, “The financial modeling is most beneficial as we plan for the future. It accounts for state reductions or delayed payments as well as a host of other fiscal variables that can be changed to reflect the latest data.”

The Board also heard an enrollment update. As of December 9, SIC was up 4.5 percent in headcount enrollment from last year despite being down at the start of the term.

“That’s the fallacy of the 10-day university model of reporting,” said Chad Flannery, SIC Dean for Student Services and Enrollment. “It doesn’t show how responsive we are during the entire semester. A new dual credit initiative this fall through an ICCB grant pushed us over the top.”
SIC’s enrollment, not including correctional headcount, is about the same as it was in 2000. Most colleges have had significant declines from the highs of 2010 enrollment patterns.

“Given the loss of population in the state and all of southern Illinois, we’re very positive about the increasing number of students in our district that choose SIC because of its value and quality,” said Flannery.

In action items, the Board voted to name a section of the campus after the passing of long-time trustee, Charles “Chuck” Hearn.

The Charles Hearn Outdoor Educational Complex is a section of campus containing training areas for programs including fire science, firearms, archery, coal mining, among other related educational offerings.

“Chuck was an avid outdoorsman and supporter of academics,” said Gary Allen, trustee.

SIC Board Chairman, Dr. Pat York, added, “This was a very appropriate move on the Board’s part. Mr. Hearn gave much of his life to this institution and cared for it very much.”

Other action items included a presentation and passing of the annual tax levy. The levy will not exceed the level required for public referendum. The tax rate is even a bit lower than it was in 2010.

The Board also passed a course sharing agreement with Rend Lake College, a resolution for a grant funded coal mine training complex, a master agreement revision with the SIC Foundation and accepted the annual audit by Kemper CPA. The audit was unqualified. The board also heard a first reading of a succession policy.

In a special meeting prior to the regular meeting, the Board appointed Debbie Hughes to fill the unexpired term of Charles Hearn.

In personnel matters, the Board accepted the resignations of Terrah Oldham, financial aid specialist, and Andrew Dunaway, media technology and graphic design specialist, transferred Debbie Suh from TRIO Counselor to Educational Technology Specialist, employed Angela Carter of Enfield as the accounts receivable clerk, approved revisions to several position descriptions and approved several advisory council members and adjunct instructors.
The next SIC Board meeting is Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J Brenner Board Room.