IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Advocates of converting Eastern Idaho Technical College into a community college Tuesday held a kick-off event aimed at drumming more support (10/25).
Committee members of the initiative were on campus to collect signatures and raise money. Dozens showed up in support of the campaign. If they collect 1,000 signatures, it would be on the ballot in May. If it passes, EITC would be the fourth community college in Idaho.
It is a step that could make history in Eastern Idaho; turning the technical college into a community college.
The group "Citizens for Affordable Education" is behind the push and is trying to bring awareness.
Director Mario Hernandez said attendance at the college is limited by the number of instructors and classroom size.
Changing its status would help open new doors, he said.
"Having the community college is going to expand that. Not only the offering in classes, but the resources that we have here," Hernandez said.
He said enrollment would increase beyond the current 700. He said the school can hold 4,000.
"The big advantage to us is to be able to get and have a positive impact on those additional 3,000 students who are seeking additional certificates, trade skills or an associate's degree, so they can go on to a four-year school," he said.
As of right now, the only community colleges in the state are North Idaho College, College of Southern Idaho and College of Western Idaho. The eastern side of the state does not have one.
In order to make this happen, state law requires state and local funding. The state has already agreed to provide $5 million in start-up costs and facilities. Getting local funding is the next step.
"We used the average price of a home in Bonneville County as $180,000, of which 50 percent of that, you have an exemption, on your home owner's credit and of that taxable amount, it would average out to be $13.37 for the year," he said.
Hernandez said this conversion is a no-brainer.
"It's an easy, a smooth transition, given that we have the facilities and the property and the capacity, with our current facilities, to go to 4,000 students," he said.
Hernandez said the community college will also be able to offer dual credit courses.