Rally to be held after John A. Logan layoffs finalized

Sit-ins, protest rallies at John A. Logan this week after layoffs finalized
(Source: KFVS)
(Source: KFVS)
"We're simply having to react to the state of Illinois and its incompetence in getting a budget." --JALC President Ron House
"We're simply having to react to the state of Illinois and its incompetence in getting a budget." --JALC President Ron House
"Out of 92 full-time faculty, 35 of us were laid off tonight." --Matt Garrison JALC Faculty Association
"Out of 92 full-time faculty, 35 of us were laid off tonight." --Matt Garrison JALC Faculty Association

CARTERVILLE, IL (KFVS) - Some students and staff are planning to hold a protest rally Friday morning  at John A. Logan College from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Organizers say former Democratic Illinois Lt. Gov., Sheila Simon will be speaking.

Throughout this week, there have been sit-ins and petition signings at the college.

Students say they're hoping to get several signatures signed for a petition in which they will later send to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

This is in light of the 55 layoffs that were finalized just last Wednesday due to the state not paying the college for the past eight months.

Here's a look at the different sit-ins that will be happening:

  • Monday, March 7: Sit-in in the Skylight Lounge from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 8: Petition signing at the Skylight Lounge from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 9: Petition signing at the Skylight Lounge from 8 a.m. to noon and then again from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 10: Petition signing in the Skylight Lounge from 8 a.m. to noon; and then in the Coffee Shop Lounge from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Friday, March 11: Protest Rally from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in front of the administration building.

Students gathered at the Skylight lounge putting up signs, and sharing stories, saying they want their voices to be heard about the impact these layoffs could have for the college's future, not just to college administrators, but state leaders as well.

"We have to join together," student, Dana Greenlee said. "We need to stop running around and pretending that this isn't a problem because it's affecting everybody."

"If I don't participate, then that'll be one less, and perhaps my participation can inspire others," student Makennen Crain said about speaking up about the layoffs. "And I really really hope that we can get this message to Springfield."

Angela Calcaterra, an 18-year faculty member who received a layoff notice, said she was in shock.

"Unfortunately I received mine and my husband's notice at the same time," she said.

Her husband also works at the college.

"I think that's tragic in both that we're losing our jobs and the fact that students are losing our experience," Calcaterra said. "I think it's just a slash to the education system in general and it's really disappointing and sad."

More than 300 people took to John A. Logan College auditorium on Wednesday, March 2 to speak to administrators before faculty and staff layoffs were finalized.

Fifty-five layoffs

Just before midnight, the board of trustees finalized 55 faculty and staff layoffs after the administration announced them earlier in the week.

"We're simply having to react to the state of Illinois and its incompetence in getting a budget" said President Ron House the day before the meeting, "and we're all at [lawmakers] mercy unfortunately."

Members of the board said Wednesday they are preparing to compensate for a lack of more than $10 million normally provided by the state of Illinois, out of a roughly $30 million projected budget.

The board went into closed session at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and returned to a packed house.

"Some of the students over there aren't even from here," said student protester Taylor Bryant, as a group chanted behind her. "...They came here from more than 3 hours away to support."

Getting Phased Out

"Our teachers' jobs are on the line, and our program," said dental hygiene student and protester Kristina Wilson. "We might be the last class if they let us graduate."

Dozens of people representing student and community groups provided public comment for nearly three hours on Wednesday, including those in the fields of dental hygiene, cosmetology, veterans, finance, mathematics, graphic design and art.

Administration said on Tuesday they planned to cut cost by phasing some of those programs out, but promised all currently enrolled students will be able to graduate with their respective certifications.

"To disrupt a student that has come here in midstream of a program and stop them... we have no intention of doing that," House said Tuesday.

Across the Board

Many speakers urged the board to take actions alternative to laying off teachers.

"We are not an athletic establishment... we are an educational establishment," said an anonymous student on Wednesday, the first of many speakers to receive standing ovations from the crowd.

Some students said they are worried about their academic programs being cut, or how the quality of their education will be affected if cuts are made.

"Not only are these drastic layoffs inequitable, but also they endanger the success of our students,the college's accreditation, and the very marrow of this institution, " said faculty association spokesperson Matt Garrison.

The Impasse

"This was the most difficult decision most of us have ever made," said Trustee Ray Hancock after the board finalized the layoffs. "It's our intention that not all of this will happen, maybe none of it if the state meets its obligation."

The state of Illinois never created an FY-2016 spending plan after originally missing their July 1, 2015 deadline.

"Get together for as long as it takes to get a budget done," pleaded student Michael Roberts on Wednesday. "Because last year when lawmakers were debating whether or not they would be able to pass one by July 1st...people were not aware that their parents would be losing their jobs because of this."

The board chair said at the beginning of Wednesday's meeting several area state representatives were invited to attend the meeting, but none of them showed.

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