Metro East Sun

Metro East Sun

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Lewis and Clark trustee calls out Rep. Bristow for standing in way of progress


By Glenn Minnis | Nov 18, 2019


Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC) Board of Trustees Vice President Julie Johnson is advising state Rep. Monica Bristow (D-Alton) to stay in her lane when it comes to how the school sees fit to conduct its affairs.

“College boards were set up the way they are with an odd number of members so you don’t have deadlocked votes,” Johnson told the Metro East Sun. “They have elected people from taxing districts because these are government bodies that receive taxes from taxpayers and this way makes sure taxpayers will be represented. By requiring Lewis and Clark to have students on board with full votes sets up lots of deadlocked votes and there’s no way to get around.”

Johnson sees Bristow’s House Bill 3944 proposal as almost certainly leading to that scenario. The bill would pave the way for the LCCC student trustee to vote on all matters pending at the school, including such matters as the vote on who will succeed controversial president Dr. Dale Chapman.

Illinois state Rep. Monica Bristow (D-Alton)

Currently, Illinois law only allows student trustees to serve as honorary, non-voting members of school boards. HB 3944 would give the LCCC student trustee the right to vote on all pending matters being considered by the school, while giving other community colleges the option of whether to make their student trustee a voting member.

Bristow’s bill comes in the wake of a reshuffling of the board of trustees at LCCC after several new members were recently voted in and the decision was made not to renew Chapman’s tenure.  

“Why would you have a bill that requires one community college to do this and allow all the other community colleges in the state to decide for themselves,” Johnson said. “There’s no good answer for that.”

Johnson also pointed out that there is no oversight of student elections and no requirements that a student trustee be a member of the taxing district.

“We could even have a person that’s not a U.S. citizen elected as a trustee,” she said. “I don’t understand why [Bristow] thinks it would be a good idea for the state to exert control over a local community college unless she wants to stop us from being able to properly manage the school.”

Johnson says that a vote on HB 3944 was not brought up in either the House or the Senate during the recently concluded veto session, but she’s still keeping watch.

“I can’t ever see this being a good idea,” she said, adding that there are still more pressing issues to deal with. “We’re continuing to help take the college into a new generation, working to keep debt low, keep tax rates flat and lower administrative costs. We’re focusing more on education and not getting sidetracked like the previous administration.”

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