Waubonsee's financial future a secret?

 
 
Updated 2/5/2015 6:27 PM

Waubonsee Community College trustees might have discussed the college's financial future during a meeting Wednesday morning.

However, if they did, they did so behind closed doors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Board members were conducting their annual special meeting where they heard "institutional reports" from college departments.

It began with a session closed to the public, which the board clerk said was closed because the board was discussing personnel and acquisition, sale or lease of property.

She pointed to subsections of the Illinois Open Meetings Act that detail when a meeting may be closed: (1) "The appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees of the public body or legal counsel for the public body, including hearing testimony on a complaint lodged against an employee of the public body or against legal counsel for the public body to determine its validity" and (5) "The purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body, including meetings held for the purpose of discussing whether a particular parcel should be acquired."

But a look through a window in a door to the board room showed a screen displaying PowerPoint-style slides on the topics on which college administrators were presenting.

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For about an hour, the administrators, including Executive Vice President David Quillen, discussed these topics, according to the titles on the slides: "Financial uncertainties to the college," "Financial stewardship," "Education and O and M funds five-year forecast," "Forecast summary," "2015 tuition rates projection/consideration FY 2016-2020," "FY 2015 tuition and fees," "Tuition comparison" "Credit hour history," "What are the impacts of limited resources," "Property tax levies and medical insurance."

The Open Meetings Act does not list any exceptions for those topics.

Board spokesman Jim Sibley said the board believes it had proper reasons to discuss those topics in closed session.

President's explanation

Board President Richard Dickson confirmed that Thursday. "It would not be in closed session if we did not think it was proper," he said.

Dickson said Quillen and college President Christine Sobek set the agendas for meetings, including determining whether to have a closed session.

Asked if the trustees had discussed the above matters in the closed session, Dickson said, "That's a possibility." He would not elaborate on how those were eligible to be discussed in closed session, other than saying, "We have to determine what sources of income" the college has.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

After the closed session, the board heard a report on a recommendation to change the college's tuition policy. During that discussion, board member Daniel Jaquez made reference to something that had been discussed in the closed session regarding tuition.

The board also met in the afternoon. Sibley said they discussed the Vision 2050 plan the college is creating, and orientation for new board members that will be elected in April.

The attorney general's Public Access Counselor declined to comment because a complaint had not been filed with the office.

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