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Members of the Lemhi Education Project spoke before the April 20th meeting of the Salmon City Council and presented details of its drive to create college level educational opportunities for local residents and surrounding communities.

Education Project Committee Chairman Dan Schroeder said the ultimate goal is to establish what amounts to a Junior College at the Salmon Valley Business and Innovation Center (SVBIC). Schroeder said the first step would be to hire an Education Coordinator to organize all the needed components as well as keep the community constantly informed and involved.

The committee has calculated a first-year budget of $40,000 will be required to fund a coordinator’s salary and all the start up costs. It is estimated that amounts to about 20 percent of the normal cost to establish an Outreach Center. The difference in local start up expenses comes from already having the accommodations and technological capacities needed to facilitate a college level center.

Schroeder said the goal is to connect Salmon’s center to North Idaho College (NIC) which has existing articulation agreements with Idaho’s four major institutions of higher learning; Idaho State University, Boise State University, Lewis-Clark State College and the University of Idaho. Those agreements mean that credits obtained through a local NIC educational outreach center could be transferred to any one of the other educational facilities. Schroeder told the council that another benefit of having college level educational opportunities available is that local students could conceivably earn an Associate of Arts degree by the time they graduate from high school. That degree could then be transferred to one of the major universities or colleges.

Schroeder said NIC is very impressed with the interest being shown here as well as the exceptional quality of high tech equipment available at the SVBIC.

Wayne Talmadge of the SVBIC recalled the first distance learning classes held several years ago in conjunction with Idaho State University and said they were very successful, for as far as they went. The problem was the classes did not go beyond a certain educational level. In this plan there would be a connection through NIC to an existing Outreach Center educational network. He said it would be like having a campus right here in Salmon, Idaho.

Talmadge said if the program can be successfully supported by local funds for one year, NIC would then step in and take over funding the Outreach Coordinator’s salary. The committee’s goal is to have from six to ten people enrolled for classes by June 6th and 18 students registered for NIC classes by this fall.

Others speaking on behalf of supporting establishment of what would equate to a local junior college were Lemhi Education Project committee members Barbara Miller and Bob Gutzman, Rehabilitation Counselor Doug Swindler, Lemhi County Economic Development Association (LCEDA) Executive Director Tammy Stringham and LCEDA Chairman Alan Howell.

Mayor Leo Marshall quoted an element of the City’s Comprehensive plan which states the city of Salmon should encourage higher education or job training opportunities and one goal should be to work towards development of a community college.

The Lemhi Education Project Committee asked the city for a contribution of $12,000. The request will be reviewed by the City Finance Committee.

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