EAST PEORIA — Five of the 10 full-time Illinois Central College faculty members who recently learned they were no longer qualified to teach at the community college now have new options.

The ICC board of trustees voted unanimously Thursday to offer eligible former faculty members a voluntary early retirement package or the possibility of a paid sabbatical to take the courses necessary for certification to teach. Tuition costs would be reimbursed at the end of the one-semester sabbatical.

Four of the five are eligible for the retirement incentive, which equals one-third of their base salary. But all five could choose the paid sabbatical, though it would have to be approved first by ICC President Sheila Quirk-Bailey.

“These are quality faculty; we don’t want to lose them,” Emmanuel Awuah, vice president of academic affairs, told board members as he explained the sabbatical offer.

The other five faculty members affected by new teacher-qualification guidelines will continue to teach in areas where they are certified.

Though it did not come up at the board meeting, more than 25 percent of the community college’s part-time faculty were also affected by changes in the college’s accreditation requirements.

Quirk-Bailey said the college is providing low-cost courses on campus, which would make it easier for many of the part-time teachers to gain certification.

Dozens of teachers were notified over Thanksgiving break that they would no longer be eligible to teach courses that transfer to four-year colleges. Some of the teachers had taught at ICC for more than a decade.

In June 2015, the Higher Learning Commission, the accrediting agency for about 1,000 institutions in 19 states, issued revised guidelines on faculty qualifications. The guidelines require teachers to have a master’s degree or graduate-level credits in the courses they teach.

Of the college's 491 part-time faculty members, 91 were told they were no longer eligible to teach. The new guidelines affected 10 of 167 full-time faculty members.

The HLC is scheduled to visit the campus in 2020. Administrators said they want to see faculty get the credentials they need by 2019.

Pam Adams can be reached at 686-3245 or padams@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @padamspam.