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University of Illinois Extension serving Cook County

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Extension Meetings

Executive Council and Program Committee Combined meeting minutes

Friday April 11, 2008 • 11:30 AM

This meeting has passed.

Cook County Executive & Program Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

April 11, 2008

Call to order

The meeting was called to order by the Council president Gwen Mastin at 11:45 am.

Because of the funding crisis Extension is facing, the president suspended the regular agenda items and asked that the members allow the Associate Chancellor/Assistant Dean, James D. Oliver to speak with the members regarding the financial troubles facing counties around the state. By acclamation the members accepted this order of business.

Extension Funding/Staffing

In Dr. Oliver's discussions with the council, he first indicated that in his 30-plus years with Extension he had not seen this magnitude of funding loss. He stated that although the county board matches (CBM) and the CCI funding were included in the governor's FY08 budget; these funds had not been released to the University for disbursement. As indicated by him, we are more than half-way into the fiscal year and many counties are struggling to keep their programs and staff up and running.

Dr. Oliver explained that $12.8 million was state-wide (CBM) and that the $5.05 million was the Cook County Initiative funds. He stated that this county was suffering a double deficit in that we not only did not receive our CBM but also the CCI funding which could result in the loss of approximately 96 staff.

Dr. Oliver asked Willene Buffett to discuss personnel and facilities issues affected by the lack of funding. Willene explained that the immediate action was to reduce some of the county's financial obligations. That plan included an immediate reduction in staff and some office operations. She had to issue termination letters to 16 non-status support personnel by May 11th close of day. In addition, Willene stated that she requested that each of the county office sites to use every conceivable means to minimize expenses in various categories (office supplies, educational supplies, travel, etc).

Willene also stated that the 16 non-status were part of the 96 personnel whose positions were affected.

At this point the council chair opened the floor for questions from the members. The following questions were posed:

Will all of the 96 staff lose their jobs?

Answer: We are not at liberty to discuss the total number of staff that will receive non-reappointments. Counties have been asked to design a plan of action with reduced staff and funding. The plan should include program efforts and ways of paying back any debts' to the university.

Will you close offices in the county?

Answer: We will need to consider this given a reduction in staffing. In addition, terms of leases will be reviewed by the legal department on campus.

What is the state's plan of action?

Answer: At the moment we can only see chaos, however we are optimistic that some funds will come; just not sure how much.

What can be accomplished with a reduced staff?

Answer: We can only speculate that 80-85% of our program outreach will see a drastic reduction to the residents of this county.

What can we (council) do?

Answer: We have been asked by campus to not move forward with any campaigning until after they have given counties the "green light"; stated Dr. Oliver. We should use caution when approaching elected officials in that the governors' office does indicate that the state is more than $750 million in the red.

The Council president stated "Cook County needs individuals to speak up regarding the loss of funding." The council members present overwhelmingly agreed with the statement from the president.

At this point the president opened the floor for suggestions from the members regarding a plan of action. The following were voted and agreed upon by the members present:

· Develop a letter that council members will use to send to their respective legislators; the letter will have 5 important points regarding programming in this county and will start with statements of personal benefits of Extension programs. This format letter will be disseminated by one of the council members to each member of the Cook County Council.

· Council president will provide the council members with key legislators.

· Council members can make trips to Springfield or visit local offices; several members chose to visit their local offices and take along others with them emphasizing that this is beyond funding but that it also the impact this will have on communities, organizations, agencies who have historically relied upon Extension for educational programs.

The council members concluded by offering suggestions to Willene for future funding, namely:

  • Seek corporate sponsorship (Exxon/Mobil, BP oil, Colin Powell Foundation, etc.)

Next meeting Date:

Combined Meeting with Executive Council and Program Committee is:

  • July 25, 2008 from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm @ District 5 office
  • November 14, 2008 from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm TBA

Executive Council Meeting is scheduled for:

  • May 9, 2008 11:30 am to 2:30 pm @ District 5 office
  • August 8, 2008 TBA
  • October 10, 2008 TBA

The meeting of April 11th was officially adjourned at 1:30 pm

Respectively submitted by:

Lisa Messinger, Secretary

Rosalind Dale, Acting Secretary