Technical programs likely to grow if EITC converted to a community college

Technical programs likely to grow if EITC converted to a community college

Three contraptions sit in the corner of Eastern Idaho Technical College’s machine tool workshop.

One, a steel lathe, is covered in metal shavings. Knobs and hand wheels protrude from its face.

A nearby drill press features an rpm chart underneath the controls, while the milling machine next to it has an old, curved monitor connected to a yellowing, clacky keyboard.

None of them get much use in David Parson’s machine tool class, though three modern computer numerical controlled devices across the shop do.

When students aren’t using them, the CNC machines hum on standby. They’re housed in clean, gray metal cabinets with flat-screen monitors and computer-controlled cutting arms.

EITC began its machine tool technology program in 2015. Like other two-year technical programs the college recently created, it churns out graduates in high demand among regional employers. The college hasn’t graduated its first class yet, but students are already accepting job offers with starting wages of about $25,000 to $30,000 per year, Parsons said. The national average starting salary is about $37,000, according to Payscale.

Also like other two-year technical programs, the machine tool program would likely expand if EITC were converted to a community college.

“I guarantee that next year at this time our career technical enrollments will be stronger if we are converted. There would be more interest on us, so we can better attract and retain students,” EITC President Rick Aman said. “The simple concept is our infrastructure would become larger too because we’re serving more students.”

Increased funding

Bonneville County residents will decide May 16 whether to convert EITC to a community college.

If converted, EITC would offer general education courses transferable to four-year universities.

But its technical programs would remain a strong focus, Aman said, and with more students comes more money and opportunity for expansion in academic and technical programs alike.

A July report by the Community College Citizen Study Panel found that EITC’s enrollment would grow from 700 students to 1,500 students in its first year as a community college. That number would balloon to 4,400 students by year six.

Tuition would increase from $109 to $125 per credit for Bonneville County residents, Aman said. Noncounty residents would pay $175 per credit.

EITC’s state funding mechanism also would change.

Currently, the college receives about $8,425,000 in general annual funding from Idaho Career and Technical Education and federal sources, Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Watkins said.

A community college would receive additional funding from the state’s general budget: $5 million that Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter promised last year to a hypothetical conversion, then about $2 million the year after, nearly $3 million the year after, and so on, the study projected based on recent Idaho community college funding.

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