SWIC leaders met to consider more layoffs, but there was no vote this time

The Southwestern Illinois College board of trustees met Monday night to consider what would have been another round of layoffs to cut costs.

The agenda for Monday’s special meeting included the possibility for a vote to fire an undisclosed number of full-time and part-time employees. But after almost two hours of discussion behind closed doors, board members took no action.

The board already laid off 47 staff members and 19 administrators this year. Those cuts came after 12 administrators voluntarily retired in 2016.

SWICEE Local 6600, the union representing support staff, responded to the layoffs with a statement.

“We are disappointed by the board of trustees’ decision to implement drastic cuts to our employee group despite being offered cost-saving measures by our membership in contractual concession,” the union wrote. “In spite of appeals to implement these cost-saving measures, and save as many vital positions as possible, these pleas went unanswered.”

SWIC President Georgia Costello cited the state budget impasse, a loss of state funding and enrollment declines as the reasons the layoffs were needed.

“The impact on state colleges and universities has been devastating, requiring some to start forced reductions much earlier,” Costello stated previously.

Between fiscal years 2015 and 2016, 1,139 fewer students attended the college. At the same time, the amount of money SWIC received from the state dropped by about 87 percent: from $13.5 million to $1.6 million.

Illinois has a budget in place now, but as of last month, SWIC was still waiting on $5.7 million in state funding.

In addition to personnel cuts, the college has also raised tuition and fees for students this year.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes