State Board of Education votes to put eastern Idaho community college on ballot

Voters to decide on Eastern Idaho Community College

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The next step to turning Eastern Idaho Technical College into a community college was approved on Friday.
The Idaho State Board of Education voted to put it to the people to vote on whether they want EITC to become a community college.

In a phone conference, the Board of Education voted unanimously and "enthusiastically" to move forward with a community college that will be called College of Eastern Idaho. The board saw that all education codes were satisfied for them to make this decision. The motion also mentioned making Bonneville County the boundary and taxing district.

"I just want to let the board know how well I thought this process went in Idaho Falls. They may have made an excellent case for the formation of a community college. I just wanted to express my thanks to the mayor and leaders in the community that took this effort and went to the lengths that they did to do it, as well as they did. I was very impressed by the whole process," said Emma Atchley, president of the Idaho State Board of Education.

"Clearly it, in my mind, is long overdue. The timing I think is going to work out very well. Based on the work that we've done for the study panel, it looks like this could be a very viable enterprise and work very well in eastern Idaho -- both for students and for economic development there," said Dr. Rick Aman, president of EITC.

"In Idaho now about 23 percent of all high school graduates go on to a two-year college. In eastern Idaho, only 5 percent go on," said Park Price, a chairman of the Bank of Idaho.

A spokesman said if Bonneville County votes yes, $13.75 a year will be paid by each property owner in the county.

"I think it may safely be said that the board is very supportive of the formation of this new opportunity for students in eastern Idaho to receive excellent post-secondary education," Atchley said.

EITC's campus only has 700 students, but the building can hold up to 4,000. The plan is to convert EITC and its buildings into the community college's campus. That drastically lowers the tax cost.

"That's the best thing of all, is we have a campus that exists that is well under-utilized. The most expensive thing to do in a community college is to get the campus built. Well, it's already built," Price said.

The technical courses currently at EITC will stay if new courses are added. Since the board's approval, the measure will go to the Bonneville County Commission to be officially placed on the ballot this year, most likely in March.

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