March 2, 2017

CARTERVILLE — Dr. Glenn Poshard, a member of the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees, spoke out against the state’s budget stalemate Tuesday night during the trustees’ February meeting.

“I’m sick of it,” said Poshard, who has served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, as an Illinois State Senator, and as president of Southern Illinois University. “Everyone I speak to is sick of this. It’s not just an educational issue any longer, it’s an economic issue and threatens the economy of our entire region.”

Said Poshard, “What’s going on in Springfield (failure to pass a budget) is absolutely undermining not only education, but the economy.”

Poshard spoke out as the state’s failure to pass a budget continues to cause John A. Logan College and other educational institutions in the area to make drastic cutbacks. Those cutbacks, as Poshard explained, not only hurt those institutions, but every facet of the economy.

“Springfield needs to sit down and iron this out,” Poshard said. “The economy of Southern Illinois is threatened by two or three people in Springfield and that’s just wrong.”

Don Brewer, chairman of the John A. Logan College Board and the longest serving board of trustees member in the state, said, “I believe the entire board agrees with you” as all other board members nodded their heads yes.

Dr. Ray Hancock, a member of the board of trustees and president emeritus of John A. Logan College, said he has been aggressively speaking with local legislators about the budget stalemate.

“I’ve been telling them, it’s your turn to step across the aisle (across Democrat-Republican party lines) and make something happen,” Hancock said.

The state’s budget stalemate and subsequent layoffs that have occurred at John A. Logan College because of it has been the source of tension that also resulted in public comments last night. Helen Nall, a retired John A. Logan College instructor, spoke out about the layoff of a full-time history instructor. “This breaks my heart,” Nall said.

Gary Caldwell, another retired faculty member, also spoke. “We are all fed up with what’s happened in the State of Illinois,” he said.

Since the budget stalemate began almost two years ago, John A. Logan College has had to reduce spending by nearly $10 million. If the stalemate continues, the matter will only grow worse.

Richard Deutsch, who leads the College’s faculty association, said, “Following what Dr. Poshard said, it behooves us to continue to send those letters to our state leaders.”

Despite the budget stalemate, College officials noted that College programs are able to boast some incredible achievements. For instance, the College’s Cybersecurity Team, made up of six students coached by instructor Mark Rogers, is the only community college team to be invited to a prestigious competition in Chicago. John A. Logan College will be competing against all universities including the University of Illinois, St. John’s, Kansas State University, and Indiana University among others.

College officials also noted that despite the budget stalemate, the College Quiz Bowl team is currently competing at a national tournament following a major regional victory.

Also, the College’s Accounting Team won a major competition at Southern Illinois University Carbondale last week under the leadership of Lora Hines, professor of accounting.

Brewer noted that the College’s athletic department has taken major financial hits because of the budget stalemate. As Brewer spoke, the men’s basketball team was routing Southwest Illinois College on its way to its 23rd victory of the season under Head Coach Kyle Smithpeters.

The men’s basketball team, now 23-6 on the season, is first place in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference; ranked second in the nation in three-point shooting percentage; has won 16 of its last 18 games; and is seeded second in the Region 24 Tournament being held next week at Rend Lake College.

Brewer noted that women’s basketball — which also won last night — is now 15-11 and placed third in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference led by Head Coach Amanda Shelby.

In addition: Women’s softball recently traveled to Mississippi winning all five of its games in tournament playing, even beating a team from Arkansas State University; Logan basketball went 12-0 during its fall season; women’s golf recently signed five new recruits, including four from Southern Illinois; men’s golf placed second in a recent tournament at the University of Tennessee Martin; and women’s volleyball placed second in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference.

“The obvious conclusion is, many programs at John A. Logan College — both in academics and athletics — are doing a lot more with a great deal less and I believe that is something we can all be very proud of,” Brewer said.

Prior to the board of trustees’ meeting, a public hearing was held to discuss the College’s proposed selling of bonds. No one from the public spoke during the hearing.

“Given the dire conditions of the state, what Brad McCormick (vice-president for business services) has done here (with the bonds) is a very good approach and I congratulate him,” Poshard said.

Jacob “Jake” Rendleman, a member of the College’s board of trustees who also represents the College on the Illinois Community College Trustees Association, noted that “Lobby Day” is set for April 26. Rendelman noted that College officials should make it a point to discuss the current condition of community colleges with as many state leaders as possible on that day.

Jackie Hancock, a board of trustees member, complimented the College’s choice for 2017 Alumnus of the Year. She noted that Ryan Patrick, this year’s choice, “makes us all proud.”

Poshard agreed, saying, “He gives the College all the credit for his success.”

Cheryl Graff, a member of the board of trustees, is a member of the College’s Budget and Finance Committee. She said that while planning a budget is extremely difficult due to the state’s inability to pass a budget of their own, the College is committed to “no increase in tuition” this year.

McCormick noted, too, that College officials “are holding the reins well” on spending.

Hancock also explained that it is important to note that throughout the state’s budget crisis and all that the College has had to suffer because of it, “the fact that we have preserved the integrity of the College is very important.”