McHenry County College could lose some retired instructors

Plan would ban those with certain state retirement benefits

CRYSTAL LAKE – Instructors receiving state retirement benefits would no longer be able to work at McHenry County College under a proposed agreement between the institution and adjunct faculty.

Peter Ponzio, president of the college’s adjunct faculty association, said the proposal would prohibit anyone receiving payments from the State Universities Retirement System from working at the college.

Under state law, retired SURS annuitants can work no more than 18 contact hours and earn no more than 40 percent of their retirement benefits. Ponzio said school officials believe those thresholds could be too difficult to monitor because retirees are allowed to work at multiple institutions, making a full ban a more manageable policy.

If the agreement were to take effect, Ponzio said, it would result in the termination of between 20 to 30 instructors who draw from the pension system. The policy would not be enacted until the end of the spring semester.

"We don't believe anyone would reach those thresholds," Ponzio said. "I'm not sure we'll be able to get that [removed], honestly."

While that stipulation may not be negotiated out of the agreement, the adjunct faculty did receive one request after officials reconsidered their position on instructors reporting to more than one supervisor.

Instructors still can work under multiple supervisors, meaning a teacher such as Ponzio could run courses in both English and accounting. Officials had considered limiting instructors to one because it would be easier to track hours as the college moves to limiting adjunct faculty to 12 credit hours per semester – equal to a 24-hour workweek.

New adjunct faculty would be limited to one supervisor.

Officials want the strict limit because health care law changes would require the college to provide health insurance for all employees working 30 hours per week or more. A 24 credit-hour workload per school year had been in place previously, but instructors could split the load on an uneven basis, meaning one semester could be 30-hour workweeks or more while the other semester would be fewer.

Ponzio said he understood the restriction but did not know why instructors could not go up to the 29-hour workweek limit.

"If people get sick, we can't get adjuncts to teach because people are at the limit," he said. "But that's the rule, and there will be ramifications with it."

The adjunct faculty is expected to vote on the proposal in the coming weeks. It then will go to the Board of Trustees for approval.

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