MATTOON — Representatives from the Lake Land College faculty association attended Monday’s board of trustees meeting to present an alternative course to the college’s decision to find a third-party vendor for the school’s Child Care Lab.
In August, the trustees voted to fund the lab through Dec. 31 and agreed to look for a third-party vendor to provide the same service beginning Jan. 1.
“Due to the college’s financial position in recent years, the college has been re-evaluating budgets in search of operational efficiencies,” a press release from the college states. “As part of the process, the Child Care Lab cost center was evaluated over the course of about 18 months.”
On Monday, Gary Powers, radio/TV and speech communication instructor and member of the child care lab task force that helped with the 18-month research, spoke on behalf of the 14 faculty members and 18 basketball team members who attended the meeting in support of keeping the child care lab operation in-house. Powers said the faculty association agrees it’s in the best interest of the college and its students that the lab operate under the college and not a third-party provider.
“As many of you are aware, the lab was created as an educational tool that still exists today here at Lake Land,” Powers said.
He compared the lab to the dental hygiene and cosmetology labs on campus that offer hands-on models that solidify the information taught in the classroom.
Students “utilize this lab extensively, and they use it for a laboratory experience,” he said. “The lab as it exists now is an extremely vital and beneficial service and source of pride for our employees but, more particularly, our students here on campus.”
He said that keeping Lake Land employees in charge of the lab holds the facility accountable. He explained the role of the task force, which he says produced a subsidy-reducing plan that was approved by the trustees. However, now that the task force members believe they weren’t included — as outlined in the trustee-approved plan — with the administration’s call to select a third-party vendor, they’ve created a second plan.
“While we understand that budgets are tight in the current crisis in the state of Illinois, we also understand that when an institution of higher learning becomes more concerned with the bottom line without including and communicating all key players in the equation, a slippery slope is created where student programs can be jeopardized,” Powers said.
Stephanie Medley-Rath, sociology instructor and member of the task force, presented the new proposal to reduce the college’s subsidy.
“We feel compelled to fulfill our obligation to reach a subsidy reduction goal of $40,000,” Medley-Rath explained.
The proposal would drop a support staff member from a full-time position to a part-time position, eliminate a part-time position and reduce supply funds, which would call upon parents of the children to donate supplies.
The total subsidy would be decreased to $41,155.45. Medley-Rath said the $40,000 goal could be reached with an enrollment increase, or the task force agreed to spearhead fundraising.
“While we initially considered these cost-saving measures, we did not propose these cuts to salaries and wages initially, but we are now prepared to make these tough decisions in order to keep the child care lab operating under Lake Land College,” she said.
The board had no discussion regarding the lab following the presentation.
Also during Monday’s meeting the board:
— Approved a clean audit presented during the meeting.
— Approved the $47,835 bid for the Smart Grid equipment from JGB Technologies of Glenview.
This equipment, which will be used in the Smart Grid introduction course, will be funded by the IGEN Smart Grid Initiative grant, according to a memo written by Tim VanDyke, technology division chair. The college received no other bids.
— Approved a $36 course fee for students enrolled in TEC 043, Industrial Safety.
“The course has incorporated the OSHA 10-hour certification, which is good for three years; each voucher costs $25,” wrote Jim Hull, vice president for Academic Services. “The new course fee would cover the cost of the certification.”
— Heard a detailed report on 10th-day enrollment figures for the fall semester. The JG-TC will have further information on this report in coming days.
— OK’d the WYSE tuition waivers. Fourteen $1,000 waivers will be given to the top competitors at the WYSE competition.
— Approved an annual notification sent to correctional center employees to inform them that if the college loses funding from the Department of Corrections, their employment will be terminated.
“At a point in time at which we know funding for FY 15 has been secured, we will notify these same employees of continued employment,” according to a memo.
— Heard a presentation on the third-quarter investment report.
— Discussed the Curriculum Committee activity listing, which includes courses and curricula that have been brought before the committee since April.
— Reviewed the 17 valedictorians and seven salutatorians attending Lake Land College this semester according to findings by student services.
— Reviewed the list of 15 student ambassadors who were selected for the 2013-14 school year out of 44 applicants.
— Noted two recommended board policy changes that will be voted on during the Nov. 11 board meeting. Pending board approval, changes will be made to the academic probation and graduation requirements policies.
— Approved the student election results for the Student Government Association. Eight students were elected.
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