December 2001 Board Meeting Report

Nearly 125 LTV Steel workers from the Hennepin plant have attended orientation sessions sponsored by Illinois Valley Community College’s Dislocated Workers Center and 18 have signed up for classes.

Joel Torbeck, director of the Dislocated Workers Center, updated the IVCC Board of Trustees Wednesday on IVCC’s outreach efforts to help workers who have lost their jobs because of the steel plant’s closing. Of the 25 who have registered for classes, Torbeck said 13 are in associate’s degree programs, eight in certificate programs and four in truck driver training.

LTV’s Hennepin plant, which had 516 employees, has cut its workforce 94 percent, leaving only a skeleton crew at the plant to prepare for its total shutdown.

"The Dislocated Workers Center can assist those employees with their job search and pay for retraining," said Torbeck. "These are services that many LTV workers may not have been aware that we could provide."

Through the orientation sessions, the DWC staff is explaining services to groups of about 30-40, filling out paperwork to get them signed up for DWC services and, in some cases, signing employees up for IVCC classes if they have decided on the retraining option.

The group sessions were scheduled because of the large number of workers at the plant. Three more sessions have been scheduled for Jan. 2, 3 and 4 in the IVCC Cultural Centre, Torbeck said. Those interested should call the DWC at 224-0370 for information and a reservation.

Services offered by the DWC through the Workforce Investment Act include career counseling, retraining assistance and job search assistance.

"We are doing everything that we can to help LTV workers through these trying times," said IVCC President Jean Goodnow. "Our Dislocated Workers Center offers hope and opportunity through career counseling, job skills assessment and job search assistance."

The DWC also has been part of the "Rapid Response" team going to the USWA Local 7367 Union Hall. Three more "Rapid Response" meetings were held earlier Wednesday for the latest group of workers who were laid off Friday.

The IVCC trustees also viewed a video created to help recruit students for the General Education Development program.

"Three former IVCC students – Daniel Drake, David Husser and Amber Mecum – directed and produced this video," said Cindy Lock, Adult Education specialist. "I gave them the information and they ran with it. The results are fabulous."

One of the biggest obstacles for potential GED students is getting started, according to Lock. This video reduces that anxiety by showing students how to take the first step and explaining the process.

The video will be distributed to several agencies that work with prospective students. Lock also hopes to distribute copies via the college’s Web site and through local video rental stores and libraries.

In other action, trustees took formal action to dismantle its educational program at the Sheridan Correctional Center. Gov. George Ryan has cut funding for the state’s educational programs in the state’s prison, effective Feb. 1.

Seven IVCC employees will be affected by the elimination of the Illinois Department of Corrections program. The employees are: Barry Sanders, college coordinator; Maxine Stanford, secretary; Ken Carothers, culinary arts; Bruce Markwalter, computer technology; Will Reidner, automotive technology; Doug Ploch, small engine repair; and Steve Swett, youthful offender program counselor.

The board took action to comply with the Community College Act’s requirement regarding reduction-in-force and authorized the administration to work with the employees to determine if there are any vacant positions that can be offered to them on a full- or part-time basis to assist them with their transitions.

IVCC hosted a meeting Friday with state Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, and Sen. Patrick Welch, D-Peru, to share concerns about the program cut, which affects more than 300 students who attended classes each semester at Sheridan.

Research has shown that while the cut will save approximately $5 million for the state this fiscal year, the long-term effects might be much more costly. According to a 1997 study conducted by the IDOC, the rate of recidivism for inmates who receive post-secondary education while incarcerated is 13.1 percent, as opposed to 39.2 percent for the general prison population.

In addition, prisoners who completed college-level courses received time off for good behavior. The reduced time and reduced recidivism result in a significant savings to the taxpayers, who support each inmate in the Illinois prison system at a minimum of $19,543 per inmate per year.

The board passed a resolution that said loss of the program will have a "devastating effect" on the college. Since 1982 IVCC has enrolled 5,895 at Sheridan and awarded 2,552 certificates and degrees to inmates. The resolution, which will be sent to Gov. Ryan and the Illinois State Legislature, said maintaining higher education prison programs would result in an annual savings of over $96 million through reduced recidivism.


In other action, the board:

  • Learned enrollment numbers for spring 2002 show more than a 15 percent increase in the number of students enrolled over spring 2001 and a more than 7 percent increase in credit hours.
  • Accepted the request of Margaret Suerth, chemistry instructor, to participate in the college’s voluntary retirement plan, effective May 31, 2003.
  • Approved tenure status for Cherie Weber, therapeutic massage instructor, and Michelle Story, computer laboratory instructor.
  • Authorized seeking bids for the printing of 90,000 copies of the Summer/Fall 2002 Schedule.
  • Learned of several staff appointments including Alberta Wimberly, secretary to the minicourse coordinator; Ray Benoit, information and assistance worker for Project NOA; and Carolyn Chapman, assistant controller/bursar. The resignation of Lori Rathbun, secretary of the Career Service Center, also was announced.