WEB EXCLUSIVE: RVC construction costs extra $9.6 million

Rock Valley College (RVC) board of trustees members met Oct. 28 to discuss personnel, finances and three construction project cost overruns that total about $9.6 million more than was previously reported.

The questions appeared to be driven by confusion about how much was paid for each project, what the causes of the overruns were, who was responsible and who knew what and when.

For example, during discussion about the proposed $3.2 million addition to the Student Center, Sam Overton, RVC’s chief financial officer got out of his seat several times to assist board members in finding information.

The board also heard closed-session testimony concerning Chapdelaine from the college’s Professional Staff Association (PSA).

The PSA is one of three employee groups scheduled to voice concerns about specific personnel issues. The PSA voted 48-8 no confidence in Chapdelaine on Sept. 15.


New construction costs were revealed Tuesday by RVC’s Chief Financial Officer Sam Overton that were higher than what was reported in last week’s issue of The Rock River Times.

In last week’s article, it was reported that construction overruns were estimated at $6.3 million. The estimate was based on Overton’s confidential draft document from earlier this month and other sources.

RVC administrators previously said the new Starlight Theater was $8 million. However, Overton said Tuesday the cost was $12.6 million. Similar miscalculations were revealed by Overton for the Support Services Building and Student Center.

The new Support Services Building was contracted for construction at $5.6 million. With all interior construction, the estimated cost by the architect was $6.2 million, before Chapdelaine’s numerous change orders. However, Overton said the new figure is about $7.9 million.

In July 2002, the renovated Student Center cost was reported by the administration between $3-$4 million. The new cost is estimated at $6.9 million.

In total, the difference between what was previously reported and the new cost estimates is about $9.6 million. As reported last week, sources allege a primary reason behind the overruns is Chapdelaine’s large number of change orders for the projects.

Board member Ann Dempsey asked if the number of change orders had been tabulated. Overton responded that it hadn’t in the past but his office would report to the board the number and types of change orders.

Also, Overton said the college did not borrow enough to pay for all the items listed on Chapdelaine’s master plan for bond-related projects. Since 1999, RVC has sold $61.8 million in non-voter approved bonds to fund primarily construction projects. It is not known if the board will sell more bonds to complete the planned projects.


The board also discovered Chapdelaine’s contract was automatically renewed last June. The contract was renewed because the contract’s past conditions did not change and the board took no action to not approve its renewal.

Chapdelaine has a rollover contract. Generally, rollover contracts are not considered in the best interest of a taxing body because of costs associated with firing an employee or not renewing their contract.

According to Chapdelaine’s contract, “The purpose is to assure the President that he will either have a continuous ‘rolling’ contract or alternatively, will be aware of at least one year in advance of a decision by the Board not to renew the contract for an additional year.”

However, other high-level administrators’ contracts are expected to be voted on at the Nov. 11 meeting. Such administrators include Penny Billman, associate vice president of strategic effectiveness/ executive assistant to the president, and Robert Campbell, associate vice president/ chief information officer.

PSA meeting

The board is in the process of hearing presentations from four college groups about concerns they have about RVC.

The groups making presentations are the students, professional staff, support staff and faculty, respectively. The last group to make a presentation, the faculty, is scheduled Dec. 9.

Generally, issues concerning the college must be addressed in a meeting open to the public. However, the Illinois Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 120) allows public bodies to close meetings to the public if the “appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of specific employees of the public body, including hearing testimony on a complaint lodged against an employee to determine its validity.”

Students met with the board in open session Oct. 14. However, members of the professional staff were given an opportunity to make their concerns known last night in closed session. The support staff and faculty are also expected to make their presentations in closed session on Nov. 11 and Dec. 9, respectively.

Details of what was discussed in closed session was not available. Closed session minutes of issues that are considered to be resolved are required, by law, to be released for public inspection after six months.

Closed session issues that are not resolved within six months, must be reviewed and voted upon by the board to remain off limits for public inspection.

Board member Doug Kelley, who hadn’t attended a trustees meeting in months, plans on being at the next several business meetings. His mother, Kathy Kelley, who won Don Johannes’ position on the RVC board last April, is expected to be sworn into office Nov. 11.

The Kelley’s presence is expected to change the dynamics of the board. Both Kelley’s have expressed their concern about the leadership of the college.

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