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McHenry County College approves staffing cuts to plug state funding shortfall

Of 25 positions affected, 14 being eliminated

Published: Friday, March 10, 2017 12:40 a.m. CDT
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(Sarah Nader)
Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Luisa Lauf of Woodstock spoke during a special Board of Trustee meeting at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake to discuss layoffs Thursday, March 9, 2017. Lauf along with three other full-time counselors were unexpectedly laid off on Tuesday from the MCC counseling department.
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(Sarah Nader)
Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com McHenry County College Board of Trustees Chairman Mike Smith (left) holds a special Board of Trustee meeting at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake to discuss layoffs Thursday, March 9, 2017. The layoffs are a result of the state budget impasse.
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(Sarah Nader)
Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com Patricia Zokal (center) listens to her colleagues speak to the board during a special Board of Trustee meeting at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake to discuss layoffs Thursday, March 9, 2017. Zokal along with three other full-time counselors were unexpectedly laid off on Tuesday from the MCC counseling department.
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(Sarah Nader)
Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com Ellen Zimmerman (center) of Barrington listens to her colleagues speak to the board during a special Board of Trustee meeting at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake to discuss layoffs Thursday, March 9, 2017. Zimmerman along with three other full-time counselors were unexpectedly laid off on Tuesday from the MCC counseling department.

CRYSTAL LAKE – The McHenry County College board of trustees approved cutting staff, faculty and administration at a special board meeting Thursday.

A total of 25 positions are affected from these moves. Of the 25 positions, 14 full- and part-time positions are being eliminated, while five positions are being reduced from full-time to part-time. As for the remaining six, those positions are currently open because of retirement or vacancy and will not be filled.

“Really good people, through no fault of their own, are losing their jobs. This is a painful truth,” MCC President Clint Gabbard said. “At the same time, we will continue to be innovative and creative in serving this great community. We will do more with less, because our students deserve our best efforts. Students are not responsible for this financial crisis, and we will do everything possible to protect the integrity of the education that they receive.”

College officials said the layoffs are a result of the state budget impasse and declining enrollment. With these reductions, the college is expected to save $1.5 million.

According to MCC, the college is projecting a loss of $1.7 million in operating funds for fiscal 2017. Because of the state budget impasse, college spokeswoman Christina Haggerty said MCC is owed nearly $1.5 million in state funds for the current fiscal year. Enrollment figures were not immediately available.

“This has been an extraordinarily challenging process for all, and we are empathetic to all who have been adversely affected,” MCC Chairman Mike Smith said.

At the meeting, the board approved three separate resolutions requested to reduce support staff, nontenured and tenured faculty and administration.

Three administrators, four faculty members and seven support staff members were laid off, according to the resolutions. The five positions reduced to part-time also are support staff.

While the reduction of staff and administration was unanimously approved by the board, the reduction of faculty, which included four full-time counselors, was passed by a 6-2 vote. Voting “no” were trustees Ronald Parrish and Colin Worden.

“I think we can definitely look at a different way to handle this counseling thing,” Worden said. “I would like to see a few counselors kept.”

Several MCC students and alumni attended the meeting to express their concerns with the recent layoffs of four full-time counselors, who said they were let go without notice.

“It seems that in this last week the board completely overlooked student success, well-being and also staff well-being,” MCC student Amber Steiger said. “The board eliminated a department that was based on meeting students’ needs. As someone who struggles with mental health issues ... I know firsthand how important it is to have resources and a support system.”

MCC graduate Jazmin Rangel attended the meeting to address how important Luisa Lauf – a bilingual counselor who had been with the college for 21 years – is to the Latino community.

“[Luisa] was one of the few Latino resources we had at MCC. … Losing her is hurting the Latino students at MCC,” Rangel said.

The community college employed about 750 people in 2015, which included 105 full-time instructors and an average of 370 part-time instructors each semester, according to the 2015 MCC annual report. With the board-approved reduction Thursday, a total of 34 positions will have been affected by cuts in fiscal 2017, which runs from July 2016 to June, according to MCC.

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