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Panel rejects expanded college boards

BOISE – Idaho’s three community colleges strongly oppose legislation that would expand their boards of directors and impose new residency rules on the additional members.

After hearing from representatives of the colleges Thursday, the House Education Committee killed the bill on an 11-6 vote.

Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, proposed the measure, saying he had received more than 40 emails from people asking for more representation from “the outlying areas” when community college boards vote on budgets and taxes.

But college officials, including North Idaho College President Priscilla Bell and NIC’s trustees, said the move was unnecessary and would be costly and disruptive for the schools.

Henderson’s bill, HB 411, which had 22 co-sponsors, would have expanded the boards of NIC, the College of Western Idaho and the College of Southern Idaho to seven members from the current five. It also would require that the two new NIC trustees come from outside the Coeur d’Alene school district; the two new CWI trustees to come from Canyon County; and one of the new CSI trustees to be from Jerome County and one from Twin Falls County west of Highway 93.

NIC trustee Judy Meyer told lawmakers, “There’s no need to grow government in these lean times.”

Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, defended the bill, saying, “This is an agricultural state. It is moving fastly towards urban control and that’s what we don’t want to have happen.”

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