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SHERIDAN — Approximately 20 attended a public information meeting hosted by Sheridan College Wednesday morning about the proposed expansion and renovation of the Technical Education Center.
Members of the board of trustees, Sheridan College President Dr. Paul Young as well as classroom instructors gave a tour of the tech center and answered questions from attendees regarding the need for renovations.
The tech center, built in 1977 with an expansion in 1980, houses the machine tool technology, diesel technology and welding technology programs.
College officials say enrollment in these programs has increased dramatically in recent years and due to a lack of space, many students are turned away from the programs.
According to an SC letter sent to Sheridan County residents, “…for every student accepted into these vocational programs at Sheridan College, three are currently turned away due to a lack of instructional capacity.”
The college is looking at options for renovating the current building and adding additional space, possibly through a $15.85 million bond measure that could go before Sheridan County voters this fall.
Wendy Smith, director of information and marketing for SC, emphasized that no decision has been made on pursuing a bond measure, but that it is being explored and discussed by the board of trustees.
No definite plans have been made, but preliminary plans suggest renovation of the current approximately 26,000-square-foot facility and the addition of approximately 26,000 more square feet of space.
One attendee noted that he believes in fiscal conservatism when it comes to asking taxpayers for such a measure, but that he was attending the session to get a better idea of what the needs were for the facility.
Young noted that he realized this would be a concern among many residents.
“I think we want to be respectful of the taxpayer because we recognize the challenge taxes present to people,” he said, noting that he and the board of trustees were committed to maintaining transparency in the process and welcoming comments and questions.
Renovations would increase space as well as deal with logistical challenges that have increased in the building in recent years.
“We are at our limit with electrical power and there are ventilation challenges as well,” Smith said.
“You can imagine this room full of students,” said machine tool technology instructor Randy White, while giving a tour of his classroom that included 15 large machines. “It is crowded enough that it is a safety issue.”
Another informational meeting and tour will be held tonight at 5 p.m. at the tech center building. People unable to attend the meeting but who wish to comment on or ask a question about the project can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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