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posted: 6/25/2012 7:11 PM

MCC considers switch in how administrators are paid

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Community colleges in the Northwest suburbs have different policies regarding how they pay administrators, from across-the-board percentage increases at College of Lake County to merit-based raises at Waubonsee Community College to a hybrid system at College of DuPage.

Last week, McHenry County College board members briefly discussed the subject, and a couple of them, including President Mary Miller, said they'd like to switch from across-the-board to merit-based raises for MCC administrators.

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Miller said she believes a majority of board members are in favor of the switch. The topic has come up several times in the last few years, usually in very brief discussions at the end of the fiscal year as the board sets administrators' raises, she said.

"It's something administrators will say, 'That's a great idea, we'll look at it,'" she said. "In the past we've had a lot of turnover in administration. I think that's the reason it fell out of the loop. It was not intentional."

MCC trustees will tackle the topic again at the July committee of the whole meeting, Miller said.

In the meantime, a look at the policies at other local community colleges shows the varied approaches.

• Elgin Community College switched from merit-based to across-the-board raises for administrators in the 2007-08 fiscal year because officials felt that would be more fair, ECC President David Sam said.

Administrators are a small percentage of college employees, and all others are covered by collective bargaining agreements, Sam said. "The challenges with (merit-based raises) include that it's very subjective. There wasn't a very uniform way of looking at all employees and being very objective in the process, so eventually we switched," he said.

Now, administrators get raises based on the average of the salary adjustments negotiated through union contracts for faculty, support staff, and members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, ECC senior director of communications Jeff Julian said.

• Harper College chief communications officer Phil Burdick said across-the-board raises for administrators and other nonunion employees are set by the board each year.

To be eligible for a raise, administrators have to be in good standing and will not get a raise for the entire year if they have a poor performance review from their supervisor, he said.

• College of DuPage grants the same percentage increase to all employee groups each year, but administrators are also eligible for one-time merit-based raises akin to bonuses for a specific year, COD President Robert L. Breuder said.

Each group allocates its pool of money for individual raises according to its own policies, such as with lanes and step systems within collective bargaining units. For administrators, a half-percent of the pool of money goes to merit-based bonuses. "We have a system that allows us to reward exemplary performance," Breuder said.

Employees who are not in good standing are put on a remediation plan, and are eligible for a raise as soon as they are back in good standing, he said.

• Waubonsee Community College's administrators get capped performance-based raises, said Jeff Noblitt, the college's director of marketing and communications. "When the board of trustees approves a salary increase, it's always an 'up to' percent, not an across-the-board automatic increase," he said.

Board chairman Richard Dickson said the system is working well. "Philosophically, any individual, if they knew they get performance raises, they would try harder, rather than just showing up at 8 a.m. and going home at 4 p.m.," he said.

• College of Lake County gives across-the-board yearly raises to its administrators. Evelyn Schiele, CLC's executive director of public relations and marketing, said she doesn't think the topic of merit-based raises has ever come up in the last two decades.

Poorly performing administrators are put on a performance improvement plan or terminated. If performance problems are resolved before the start of the next fiscal year, generally administrators would get an increase, Schiele said.

• At McHenry County College, administrators get across-the-board raises set by trustees every year. Administrators who don't meet expectations go through a "performance management" process set by the human resources department, said MCC director of marketing and public relations Christina Haggerty. It is "unlikely" that administrators in performance management would get a raise, she said.

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