CRYSTAL LAKE – The McHenry County College Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting Wednesday to discuss and potentially act on a contract extension for president Vicky Smith after an unexpected stalemate on the issue.
Smith's contract is set to expire on June 30, 2015 and trustees had offered an extension for another year that was accepted by Smith, but when the item came up for a vote Thursday the trustees split, 3-3, with likely supporter Mary Miller absent.
With the contract failing to pass, there was confusion over legal ramifications among trustees with college attorney Nanci Rogers saying there could be liability exposure.
"There was an offer, there was an acceptance. When Dr. Smith accepted it she did not change any of the terms that were offered," Rogers said. "Therefore this should be an approval at the public session that is simply a formality ... so it's a difficult situation here."
The board will meet to resolve the issue at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
In the existing contract, Rogers said a reappointment clause states the board must notify Smith each year if it intends to extend the contract, which Rogers said trustees did in April. The contract terms came together in closed session and Smith indicated she would accept it, Rogers said.
Rogers pointed out chairman Ron Parrish's board report that was part of the public agenda indicated the board was pleased with the results of the performance evaluation and determined the extension was in order. Parrish voted against the extension.
"It's inconsistent with the board having made an offer to now have a vote and decline it," Rogers said.
Trustee Cynthia Kisser, who voted in favor of the extension along with Linda Liddell and Molly Walsh who had some reservations, was the most vocal about the legal concerns. She said without a mistake or change in the details of the agreed upon terms of the contract, there is no legal grounds to not ratify it.
"When I read it, it has the terms we offered and the terms she accepted," Kisser said. "We have some liability exposure here if we don't ratify this contract at this point."
Trustees agreed to meet in closed session after the meeting to discuss the issue. A decision was made to hold the special meeting on Wednesday to take action before the June 1 deadline.
"I think what we have here is a split vote, you might call it a vote of no-confidence," Parrish said during the meeting. "But we have not terminated her employment."
Parrish voted against the extension along with trustees Tom Wilbeck and Chris Jenner.
It is the second contract extension controversy in as many years for Smith, who was given a one-year extension in April of last year by the outgoing trustees right before the newly elected representatives took their seats.
Details of the contract were part of the public agenda Thursday but have since been retracted as terms could change. The proposal called for Smith to finish this fiscal year – ending June 30 – at her current salary of $211,000. A combination of raises and Consumer Price Index adjustments would then increase her annual salary each of the next two years by no less than 3 percent and no greater than 5.9 percent.
Insurance, retirement benefits, travel and automobile reimbursements and other existing compensation benefits would also continue.