SHERIDAN — A group of community members have formed a political action committee to raise public awareness and win voter support for a $15.85 million bond for renovation and expansion of the Sheridan College Technical Education Center.
Mark Kinner, former Sheridan College trustee and chairman of Supporters of Sheridan College, said the PAC will focus its efforts on informing the public about the need for the project, ensuring that voters are aware of the Aug. 20 special election date and encouraging community members to support the initiative.
Kinner added that the existing tech center operates at maximum student capacity despite a number of outdated systems and structural issues.
“For every student enrolled in our diesel welding, and machine tool technology programs, two to three are turned away due to insufficient capacity,” he said in a media release. “Graduating tech students have a nearly 100 percent job placement rate following completion of their programs, which is no small feat considering the economy over the past several years and competition for manufacturing jobs.”
The tech center project is the next step in the college’s Strategic Facilities Plan, adopted by the college board of trustees in early 2010 to address upgrades to aging buildings and infrastructure.
Tech center improvements will allow for almost four times as many students to participate in high-demand vocational programs, according to the release.
“This past year, over 120 students participated in these programs,” said Sue Belish, PAC treasurer and former Sheridan County School District 1 superintendent. “Expansion of the tech center will allow the college to train up to 500 students at a time in degree and apprenticeship programs.”
More than 81 percent of the students currently enrolled in the tech programs are from Wyoming, and more than 50 percent are from Sheridan County.
Kinner said the formation of the PAC will allow private citizens to pool their resources in support of a positive cause.
“We feel strongly that expansion of the college tech programs will have lasting benefit to our community,” Kinner said.
More information about the group is available at www.supportsheridancollege.com and by searching “Supporters of Sheridan College” on Facebook.