City colleges may beef up meeting agendas

  • By Peter Sachs
  • Education reporter
  • October 15, 2008 @ 8:50 AM

City Colleges of Chicago are considering providing more details about the items listed on Board of Trustees' meetings agendas.

This comes two weeks after the Chi-Town Daily News first reported that the trustees meet without telling anyone in advance about what’s on the table for discussion and voting.

At the time, several students expressed concern about the board spending their tuition dollars without students having a chance to study proposals and engage in public debate.

“We’re looking at expanding the agenda,” district spokeswoman Elsa Tullos says.

Tullos says staffers and the district’s attorney are still working out the details of what would be included in future agendas for the monthly meetings, though she said they would “give a little more information.”

“I understand that the board secretary is reviewing the issues,” board Chairman James Tyree says. “I know there’s notice of meetings and we’ve certainly been complying with every rule, regulation and law, and once people give me the facts, then I’ll have an opinion.”

He says he would be involved in making a decision on how to modify the agendas.

Currently, the district’s board agendas have just six items. Though “Approval of Board Packet and Amendment Folder” takes up just one line of the agenda, most of the board’s previous meeting was spent discussing 30 separate items under that heading. They included awarding a $2 million contract to AT&T for the district’s phone system, spending $550,000 on janitorial supplies and approving tens of thousands of dollars in faculty overtime.

Tullos wouldn’t say if the expanded agendas would include Web links to the one- to two-page background documents board members receive on each item. Many suburban community colleges post detailed agendas on their Web sites in advance of meetings and will put together a detailed packet of information for the public to have prior to meetings.

James Reilly, the district’s attorney, was in a meeting Monday afternoon and did not return a call seeking comment.

Peter Sachs is a Chicago-based journalist. He covers higher education for the Daily News.