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McHenry County College to consider layoffs Thursday night

Published: Thursday, March 9, 2017 12:39 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 9, 2017 12:41 a.m. CDT
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(Sarah Nader)
Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com Ellen Zimmerman (back left) Amy Taylor, Patricia Zokal ( front left) and Luisa Lauf pose for a portrait at the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake Wednesday, March 8, 2017. The four full-time members of McHenry County College's counseling department were unexpectedly laid off on Tuesday and escorted out by police. The four said they didn't understand why they weren't able to carry out their jobs through the rest of school year.
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McHenry County College Board of Trustees Chairman Mike Smith.

CRYSTAL LAKE – The McHenry County College Board of Trustees will consider cutting faculty, support staff and administrators at a special board meeting Thursday.

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. in Room A217 at MCC, 8900 Route 14, Crystal Lake. It is open to the public. College officials declined to say Wednesday how many positions could be eliminated.

The board will consider three separate resolutions requested to reduce support staff, nontenured and tenured faculty and administration, according to the agenda.

The potential layoffs are the result of the state budget impasse, college spokeswoman Christina Haggerty said.

“This, combined with lack of growth from other revenue sources such as the levy and tuition, has caused MCC, like many other community colleges in Illinois, to take additional cost-saving measures,” she said.

“We’re arguably experiencing one of the most challenging financial circumstances this extraordinary community college has faced in many years,” board Chairman Mike Smith said. “Ultimately, we’re obligated to be as fiscally responsible as possible and maintain a healthy budget.”

Tuesday afternoon, four full-time members of MCC’s counseling department said they were unexpectedly laid off and escorted out by police. The four said they didn’t understand why they weren’t able to carry out their jobs through the rest of school year.

“In 30 years I’ve never been told I’ve had five minutes to get out. Never seen anything like this and was totally shocked when it happened,” said Ellen Zimmerman, who worked as a mental health counselor at MCC.

Bilingual counselor Luisa Lauf, who worked at the college for 21 years before being laid off Tuesday, said she’s concerned about what will happen to the students she’d been counseling.

“We have a relationship with these students,” Lauf said. “And we’re supposed to notify them when we’re leaving but were unable to do that.”

Patricia Zokal, who was a full-time counselor and has been with the college for 14 years, said another concern they have is what will happen to all the resources and contacts they’ve developed over the years.

“There was no transition period for someone to pick those up immediately,” Zokal said. “The resources we picked up are basically just gone now.”

“I believe they got rid of the one department that is solely there for student success,” said Amy Taylor, former department chairwoman and full-time counselor for MCC.

Taylor and her former co-workers said they plan to attend Thursday’s meeting.

MCC serves Community College District 528, which includes nearly all of McHenry County and small parts of Boone, Kane and Lake counties. It employed about 750 people in 2015, including 105 full-time instructors and an average of 370 part-time instructors each semester, according to a report published that year.

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