The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees approved a lower tax levy rate for the district during their meeting Thursday night. Tim Walker, vice president for administration and business affairs, presented the 2012 tax levy payable in 2013.
A Truth in Taxation public hearing was not required because the 2.37 percent total tax extension excluding bond and interest, does not exceed legal limits requiring a hearing. Board Chair, Dr. Pat York, said he and the board were pleased to keep the rate low for the district.
In more financial news, President Rice presented the board with a 24-month outlook of the state budget and its impact on the college. As was previously discussed, Southeastern is owed well over $2 million from the state this year.
"The State just paid us up for last year at the end of this November," Rice said. "We are further behind in state payments than ever before. The check simply isn't in the mail and we don't know when it will be."
Rice said the immediate strategy is cash flow management.
"It's one thing to have a budget cut from the state, which we had this year after about 10 years of flat funding. But to not have any funding in the bank from the state at this point, that's a challenge. We had no other choice than to take significant and proactive steps three years ago to manage cash flow for today. That strategy and our constant watch on the budget are crucial,” Rice said.
Rice informed the board that the state's temporary tax increase is set to expire mid-year 2015.
"Add to that year expected pension reform costs, and it will be challenging to say the least. The fiscal repair to our state and education is a long haul ride for all of us,” Rice said.
In more positive news, the board heard an extensive report on retention and completion and ongoing efforts to improve on already great success from Dr. Dana Keating, vice president for academic and student affairs. As a state and national leader in completion rates, SIC ranks sixth of 48 Illinois community college and ranks in the 87th percentile for national completion rates.
Additionally, SIC holds the region's best time from beginning college to completing a program. The college has also engaged a new pilot program to reduce the need for developmental education and speed up time to completion.
"SIC is at the forefront of retention and completion, but we won't settle for our present success," said Keating. "We make it our mission to continue to help retain more students, earn more degrees, and succeed in life."
During the meeting:
Updates were presented to the board on outdoor recreation business and tourism development, as well as student programs, such as the new outdoor recreation program that begins next fall. Dan King, SIC outdoor recreation specialist, highlighted many of his outdoor recreation business clients and also discussed recruitment drives for the new fall academic program.
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Archie Blair, head archery coach, presented the board with the national championship women's 3-D archery team trophy. Blair thanked President Rice for his vision and the board for their support of this highly successful new team.
The board learned of a "ReLeafing" grant project on campus made available by Man-Tra-Con of Harrisburg. This grant was made available due to the college being in the path of the Leap Day tornado. It will allow for replacement of wind-damaged vegetation not covered by insurance and help beautify the campus at minimal cost to the college.
SIC Student Government is proposing a student-sponsored tornado memorial to be placed near the soon-to-be-renovated student center patio, with help from a potential grant. An inscribed granite marker would be accompanied by a small bench and flowerbed.
The board was also updated on recent vandalism acts on campus. The college is working with local law enforcement, as well as state and federal officials on these issues.
The board heard about Willow Lake Mine closure impact and retraining opportunities for local miners. SIC is hosting an event with the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and others on campus 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Dec. 12 and 13 each day.
The annual fantasy auction, held on Nov. 17 at the Foundation Center raised approximately $60,000. That amount will be matched by a Title III grant fund to be used for scholarships. The application deadline for Fall 2013 scholarships is Feb. 15. One application covers all institutional and many foundation scholarships. The form can be found online at www.sic.edu/scholarships. About half of the available scholarships can be awarded to continuing students, and students are encouraged to apply for multiple awards.
The board approved a UMWA contract for classified staff with an increase of 2.9 percent for 2011-12 salaries with retro pay to be made on the next pay period.
Kelli Lewis resigned from her position as Title III technical administrative assistant.
Terry Lucas, ABE/GED Coordinator at SIC, has accepted a new position as educational technology specialist for the college, effective Jan. 2.
New adjunct faculty approved for employment are Laura DeVous, Kathy Head, Dan King and Melody Kisner
Page 3 of 3 - The next board meeting will be 6 p.m. Jan. 22 in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room at SIC.