On November 7th, the citizens of Bingham County will have an opportunity to vote, to be included in the taxing district, for the College of Eastern Idaho. The decision is up to the voters. I would encourage the voters to study the pros and cons in order to make the best choice for the future of Bingham County.
Here are some facts from my perspective. Under Idaho Code 33-2110A the county is already obligated to provide “out of district tuition” for students at $500.00 per semester or a lifetime maximum of $3,000.00 per student. The only requirement is that they are enrolled in a community college and are a resident of the county.
Being in a Community College District allows us to have a local board of trustees, with local control, which could be an economic driver. If we have businesses who need specialized training for potential employees, they can tailor the curriculum to meet their needs.
The community college would benefit local high schools because high school teachers who are certified to offer dual enrollment courses to students, would be treated as adjunct faculty of the community college. They would be able to get training or in-service, that is offered to the faculty of the community college, and in some cases paid a stipend.
It has been argued that we already have a university in the upper valley, BYU-I. I agree it is a great asset to the area, but not all students are LDS, and not all LDS students can qualify to attend there.
I’m impressed that the community college is targeting middle class, blue collar families, whose students would not normally go on after High School. These students may not be prepared academically for a university or financially able to enroll. The community college provides an educational opportunity, where students can live at home, commute to school and continue their education.
The economic data I’ve seen indicates that even two years of post-secondary education means between $12,000.00 to $14,000.00 increased annual income. That is enough to move families out of the poverty level, to buy a car, buy a house and pay taxes.
The current board of trustees for the College of Eastern Idaho has asked for a starting levy of .00015 or about $15.00 per $100,000.00 of property value. The average home in Bingham County is around $155,000.00 with the homeowner’s exemption. The tax liability for the average home owner would be around $11.00. I can’t help but think, that there is no place in government that the money would be better spent.
Thank you for your consideration
Bingham County Commission Chair