Petition for community college certified for ballot, moves to next phase

Education

EastIdahoNews.com file photo

IDAHO FALLS — The community is a one major step closer to getting a community college.

On Wednesday, the Bonneville County Elections office approved a petition by local advocacy group Citizens for Affordable Higher Education. The petition aims to turn Eastern Idaho Technical College into a community college.

The Elections office received the petition Dec. 9, and now the petition is moving forward to the Idaho State Board of Education.

“They just barely finished up certification this morning,” Citizens for Affordable Higher Education spokesman Steven Taggart said.

In order for the petition to receive certification 1,000 signatures had to be validated by the elections office. Originally some 3,400 signatures were reported to be on the petition. Some 2,852 were validated.

“That is roughly three times the 1,000 required,” Taggart said.

The petition addresses the matter of a community college district being formed within Bonneville County. Having the district is necessary in order to transform EITC into the proposed “College of Eastern Idaho.”

“Basically the petition does two things. It basically provides that a new college is created called the College of Eastern Idaho, and establishes a community college district that is all of Bonneville County,” Taggart told EastIdahoNews.com earlier this month.

Taggart said the petition is moving forward at the expected pace.

Taggart said the State Board of Education has to verify the need for a community college, which could happen as soon as January 2017. Once that is done Bonneville County Commissioners can place the initiative on the ballot as soon as May 16, 2017.

“I am very pleased with the efforts of Citizens for Affordable Higher Education to collect signatures to place this ballot initiative before voters,”President of EITC, Rick Aman told EastIdahoNews.com on Dec. 14. “This vote is the only way to create a new community college in Idaho.”

The community college district will serve as the financial support for the institution and construction of new buildings for the campus will not be necessary. Officials say EITC’s existing infrastructure will be utilized for the new college. Five million dollars have been allocated by Idaho State Legislature for startup costs.

Local property taxes are expected to increase by about $13.37 per year for the average homeowner in Bonneville County, Taggart said.

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