SHERIDAN — The Sheridan College Board of Trustees received an update last night at their regular board meeting from the Denver investment bank George K. Baum & Company about upcoming efforts to poll the Sheridan community on support for a temporary tax increase to finance renovations of the school’s technical center.
The center was built in 1977 and is in need of upgrades and repairs. The center primarily serves students in the rapidly growing courses of machine tool technology, welding technology and diesel technology. Fifty-three students are currently enrolled in those programs.
In order to fund the renovations, which could potentially quadruple enrollment spaces available in the three areas, G.K. Baum & Company will conduct a community assessment to gauge support for a temporary tax increase as a ballot proposal this fall.
“The process we propose is focused on respecting the taxpayers in Sheridan County,” said Paul Hanley, senior vice president of G.K. Baum. “It’s about being transparent with regard to your facility needs, the cost, efforts to obtain grants and private funding and the projected tax impact if the college decides to place a tax measure on the ballot.”
Hanley said the process encompasses meeting with students and staff, community leaders and the community as a whole. It also involves mailing out detailed information pieces to county residents, which present the pros and cons of the proposed project.
Hanley noted that he and his associates from Denver took a tour of the tech center Thursday.
“They are out of space,” he told the board. “They have great equipment but can’t accommodate as many students as they would like.”
Hanley noted that the college has not approached the Sheridan community for a tax increase since 1976 and commended the board for successfully using private donations, grants and “living within their means” to fund the college’s growth in recent years.
“This is a game changer for the college and the community,” said Trustee Scott Ludwig, about the proposed expansion and renovations. “We’re busting at the seams as you know and we need to serve our students.”
“Sheridan College has the opportunity and the obligation to increase our impact on the economy by enrolling more students in programs that align with and support our local economy and by ensuring those students complete their education,” Sheridan College President Paul Young said. “The first building on our campus was funded in part by the taxpayers of this community. It has been 36 years since the college asked the citizens of Sheridan County for support of this nature, and I am hopeful that the results of this study are positive.”
In other business, the board approved tenure for five current faculty — Sarah Beres, Kaleen Juergens, Wendy Ostlind, Sarah Jo Sinclair and Robin West. Tenure was awarded after a lengthy process over the past four years that included evaluations by the dean, evaluations by teaching peers and other criteria.