Stopgap funding helps schools, not laid off faculty

Illinois lawmakers passed $600 million Monday for public schools and universities.  

Larger schools like SIU will get more than $57 million, where smaller community colleges like John A Logan will receive $4 million. School leaders say the money is a big help, but it’s not enough.

To keep the doors open and classes in session at John A Logan College, it takes $3 million a month. That’s why Interim President Ron House says the $4 million they’ll get from the funding passed Monday will help, but cover their costs like a band aid.

"We probably bought a couple months’ time before we have to borrow money. And that’s a good thing. The longer we could put that off, the more likely we’ll get a real budget with real money and avoid that all together,” said House.

Trying to make up the millions held up by the budget impasse, the board voted in March to cut 55 faculty members at the end of the semester.

English teacher and faculty association negotiator Matt Garrison says his department and many others around the school feel emptier already.

"We have six full-time faculty in the English department, three of whom have lost or will lose their jobs," said Garrison.

Thirteen of the 55 cut faculty members will likely be asked to walk back onto campus in the fall. But House says it won’t be the stop gap funding bringing those faculty members back. Instead, it comes from other teachers retiring within their departments. The school is considering nine teachers and four faculty members from the 13.

"It will be a little bittersweet, because it’s not going to be all of them," Garrison said.

House says no matter what, the college will find a way to stay open and the academic standards won’t suffer. But Garrison says without knowing what the school will look like in the fall, the outlook of the school looks like the outlook of the budget: murky.

Unless a budget is passed, the faculty members to be laid off will wrap up at John A Logan College starting May 31. The future of the 13 faculty members that may be recalled will be decided at Tuesday night’s board of trustees meeting.

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