Inside stifling JALC boardroom, students & faculty turn-up the h - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Inside stifling JALC boardroom, students & faculty turn-up the heat

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Student Hannah Borowitz tearfully recounts how JALC instructors have inspired her to pursue a career in music. Student Hannah Borowitz tearfully recounts how JALC instructors have inspired her to pursue a career in music.
English instructor Matt Garrison, who's also the faculty's chief contract negotiator, challenges the board's assertion that lawmakers and Gov. Rauner are to blame for the college's financial crisis. English instructor Matt Garrison, who's also the faculty's chief contract negotiator, challenges the board's assertion that lawmakers and Gov. Rauner are to blame for the college's financial crisis.

CARTERVILLE -- Teary testimony from a John A. Logan College student opposed to looming faculty layoffs set the tone for an emotional board meeting Tuesday night.

Hannah Borowitz, a music and theatre scholarship recipient, pleaded with board members to spare instructors from budget cuts. With tears running down her cheeks, Borowitz recounted how she didn't think a career in music was doable until she came to the college.

"Past experiences filled me with self-doubt and insecurity," she said. "Working with theatre and music instructors at this school immediately changed my mindset."

Some in the standing room only crowd looked stunned after she finished.

A board member spoke-up, urging everyone to contact their local legislators.

"We're not in this situation because of this board or because of anything the college has done," said Ray Hancock. "We're here because the state of Illinois, our elected representatives, put party and their own elected positions above the people of this state."

Add the governor to that list, responded another board member.

But English instructor Matt Garrison, who's also the faculty's chief negotiator in upcoming contract talks, turned-up the heat on board members even more, challenging Hancock's assertion.

"The state of Illinois is not entirely to blame for this situation," Garrison said. "Years of dubious managerial decisions at the college have contributed their portion, as well."

He said the college hadn't prepared for the future. He also suggested board members look at other ways of cutting costs before issuing layoff notices.

"What about campus-wide pay reductions?" he asked. "What about furloughs? What about the selling-off of capital assets?"

This time, there was no response from the board.

Illinois Education Association staff member Bret Seferian tells News 3 the board must issue layoff notices to the affected faculty members by mid-March. He believes that's why the board has scheduled a special meeting for next Wednesday night, which is March 2. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in JALC's O'Neil Auditorium

Board chairman Don Brewer said he'll try to give everyone a chance to speak for three to five minutes, unless speakers start to repeat points others have made.

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