Arlington Heights Daily Herald - Jan. 30, 2015

By Erin Hegarty

Some suburban lawmakers want to punish College of DuPage for President Robert Breuder's $762,868 severance package.

State Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Wheaton Republican, called for the state's top auditor to review how the college has handled money since 2011.

Ives wants the audit to be conducted as soon as possible and requests that "any other state agency or entity that may have information relevant to this audit cooperate fully and promptly" with the auditor. She filed a resolution to push the matter in the Illinois House and quickly found some backing.

"The board had a chance to correct this decision. Now I join with Rep. Jeanne Ives in calling for an audit," Rep. Steve Andersson, a Geneva Republican, posted online Thursday.

And state Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, said before Wednesday's COD board approval of the severance deal that he will introduce legislation to slash state funding for COD by more than $1.5 million next year.

Franks says Breuder's buyout "is a misuse of precious funds that the school receives from the state and a disservice to the students who attend that institution."

College of DuPage received $14.2 million in state money last year, Franks said.

The COD board on Wednesday approved, for the second time, Breuder's severance package with another 6-1 vote in favor of the buyout. The vote was restaged because of what Chairwoman Erin Birt said was a "procedural" error in the initial vote.

Trustee Kim Savage, speaking at the time of the initial vote, praised Breuder for his service. "We now have an institution that is a desired institution to come to, not an institution of second choice," she said.

Breuder's buyout also includes an early retirement date and the promise of a building named after him if he stays on good behavior until his 2016 departure.

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, says he'll write legislation to prevent naming a government building for a departing president and to restrict buyout provisions in officials' contracts.

"As a local taxpayer I'm offended. As a lawmaker I'm outraged," Cullerton said. "The college's priority should be educating students, not handing out golden parachutes."

State Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, says she's met with the Senate's legal staff about how to put a cap on the size of severance packages, but she said details of legislation aren't ready yet.

Other large severance packages already have caught lawmakers' attention.

State Rep. Margo McDermed, a Mokena Republican, introduced legislation before COD's final decision calling for more transparency in publicly funded severance agreements. The plan is aimed at the 2013 deal in which Metra agreed to a $442,000 severance package with former CEO Alex Clifford.

Her legislation would ensure severance agreements funded partly or fully with taxpayer money be made public.

McDermed says it's time to build this transparency into Illinois law.

"If taxpayers knew what was going on with money, they might vote differently in elections for things like college boards," McDermed said.

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Category: In The News

Arlington Heights Daily Herald - Jan. 29, 2015

By Erin Hegarty

Suburban Republicans are getting ready to unveil measures they say could prevent big buyouts like the $762,868 the College of DuPage board gave President Robert Breuder.

State Reps. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton and Ron Sandack of Downers Grove will be joined by other DuPage County lawmakers Monday when they announce the new legislation aimed at taxpayer-funded severance packages.

For starters, Sandack wants to ban boards from using state money to pay for severance deals like Breuder's.

"If local boards want to cut deals like this, they can, but they can only use local dollars," Sandack said.

Sandack also wants to move community college board candidates off the spring ballot, which they share with candidates for other local offices. Instead, he'd like college trustees to be elected every other November, during higher-profile elections, to increase voter turnout and interest in the races.

Ives wants to give taxpayers two weeks to see proposed contracts being offered to top public officials before boards can vote to accept them.

Ives has also called for a performance audit of COD's finances going back to 2011. The resolution to conduct the audit already has more than 50 bipartisan sponsors, Ives said.

Ives said these proposals are not final, and "not all of us have signed on to everyone else's bills." And there could be more plans announced Monday.

Democrats have gotten in on the act, too. State Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo wants to cut the amount of state money COD gets. State Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park wants to keep names like Breuder's off government buildings. And state Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake wants to cap the value of severance deals for public employees.

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Category: In The News

Libertyville Review - Jan. 27, 2015

By Community Contributor rgirard

Two of the speakers at the Jan. 23-24 workshop, The Impact of Culture, Social Status and Gender, are part of the Mundelein High School family. Held at Northwestern University and at the College of Lake County, the workshop, attended by more than 250 participants, examined how culture, social status and gender shape students and local educational systems. Keynote speaker at both events was Dr. Hazel Markus, Davis-Brack professor of social psychology at Stanford University.

MHS Science Instructor, Jackie Hogan, spoke about the Role of Gender and Minorities in STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] education. Luis Fuentes, president of the high school's Universidad de Padres program, related information about the challenges that people face adapting to the American educational system. He explained that programs like Universidad de Padres are essential to building partnerships among schools, parents and teachers.

Other speakers included Sen. Melinda Bush, member of the Illinois Education legislative committee; Dr. Connie Collins, superintendent of Round Lake Schools; Lauren Fagel, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at Lake Forest Schools; and Dr. Miriam Sherin and Dr. Mesmin Destin of the Northwestern University faculty.

"With the pressure to reduce student growth and development to a number, teachers want to make sure we are being sensitive to the fact that each of these children is an individual," said Andy Hirshman, Illinois Education Association Board member and MHS social studies instructor.

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Category: In The News

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