Protesters take on John A. Logan College leadership over cuts

Protesters are back to picketing at John A. Logan College after the school decided not to use $4 million in stopgap funding from Illinois to recall soon to be laid off employees.

Protesters say the problem runs much deeper than just faculty cuts to a deep distrust for how things are run at the college.

Though not much distance separates the protesters from John A Logan College in Carterville, former teacher and humanities department chair Gayle Pesavento says the rift at the school has been large and problematic for years.

"When we went through the higher learning commission accreditation process, the board was called to test then for its decision making, lack of accountability, lack of integrity. The same thing has happened again and only gotten worse," said Pesavento.

Standing side by side with fellow former teachers and department heads Gary Caldwell and Barb James, Pesavento says she knew she wanted to be here to stand up for the school’s teachers.

Protesters say that goes well beyond the cuts and recalls at John A Logan. They say administrators and the board of trustees are mismanaging the college, and they want the community to know about it.

Despite an outcry from community members and students, the board voted in March to cut 55 faculty members.

Angie Calcaterra and her husband David are among those 55. She says when the state approved $4 million in funding last week, they heard teachers would be called back. But the only recalls made came from inner-department retirements, not from funding.

"I’m okay. I’m past that. But a lot of people I see maybe are just finding this out, and they just can’t believe it,” said Angie Calcaterra, a deaf and hard of hearing program services coordinator at John A Logan.

The college has said the money is needed to keep classes going and the doors open during the uncertainty of the Illinois budget impasse, but Pesavento says the college will be crippled without quality educators.

"This board has made decisions that are harming the college, harming the students and they’re going to continue for years to come," Pesavento said.

She says they’re out spreading their message to the community, so they too can demand change at the college.

John A Logan declined to comment about the protest or claims made against the school by protesters.

Layoffs are slated to being at the end of this month.

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