As Walter Cronkite once said, "In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story." To that regard, this letter is intended to augment your recent article on the College of Lake County (CLC) board of trustees' expenditures.
While your article certainly covered past expenses and new spending protocols, it was light on context.
Contact information ( * required )
Trustees are volunteers. Their service requires travel and hotel expenses, both of which are incurred to effectively lobby with legislators and meet with associations in person. The purpose of these trips is to benefit the college. During these trips, trustees are sacrificing personal time with their families and opportunities to earn money in their careers.
And, yes, these trips include meals. After all, it is hard to lobby for funding when your stomach is lobbying for food. All joking aside, I think it's unreasonable to expect trustees to pay for meals with legislators out of their own pockets, considering the fact that CLC trusteeship is an unpaid, elected position.
It is perhaps even more unreasonable to expect the legislators to pick up the tab instead.
The board is critical to CLC's continued success. CLC started in 1969 with the same tax rate that it still has today. The college is one of only 29 higher education institutions in the country with a Triple-A bond rating. CLC empowers its students to succeed at four-year schools. CLC graduates often outperform native students at four-year schools.
I hope that taxpayers can take the full picture into account before passing judgment on the board. The board is clearly taking steps toward increased accountability and transparency with its expenses. The bottom line is that funding and autonomy for community colleges do not come without a price.