Saturday, May 25, 2024

MY TURN: NIC board of trustees election

by TIM CHRISTIE/Guest opinion
| October 20, 2022 1:00 AM

North Idaho College has been a fixture in Coeur d'Alene since 1933, which means for nearly 90 years the college has faithfully served this community offering affordable college educational credits, vocational technical training, adult basic education, special interest courses and cultural events.

Of course, there have been challenges. Budget shortfalls. Enrollment peaks and valleys. Staffing issues, just to name a few. But the college has endured those challenges, and with each one, the school has weathered the storms and grown stronger. That is, until recently.

In 2022, NIC faces perhaps the greatest challenge of the last nine decades. And it’s up to the community to stand up for the college and all that it provides to the community. On November 8, an election will be held for three board of trustee members who will either wisely guide the college and make it stronger than ever, or it will revert to the chaos and strife that nearly eliminated the very lifeblood of the school, accreditation. Without accreditation, NIC would essentially be neutered. College credits earned by students wouldn’t transfer to other schools. Enrollments would plummet. Financial losses in the form of staff and faculty cuts would stagger the community.

It's not new news that under Todd Banducci’s helm as chair of the board of trustees the college began spiraling into a nosedive. The college president was fired without cause, college faculty and staff associations voted no confidence in Banducci, 1,700 people signed a CDA Press ad asking for him to resign, and millions of dollars of scholarship money suddenly dried up. (One person withdrew a two-million-dollar scholarship for nursing students because of what was happening under Banducci’s reign) Students suffered. Faculty and staff suffered. The community has suffered. And then the Northwest Association of Colleges and Universities was forced to make a special visit to the college to assess whether NIC should be placed on accreditation probation.

After one board member was determined to be no longer living in the state, two board members resigned prompting the Idaho State Board of Education to step in and install three well respected community members to the NIC board. In the ensuing months, the board has been stabilized, a new president was hired, and the fall semester is in full swing. A sense of normalcy has been restored at the college.

November’s election asks you, community members, to make a critical choice. Essentially, you’re determining how valuable North Idaho College is to the community. Do you want it to continue being the learning center for health care workers? Do we want strong academic programs that seamlessly transfer to four-year institutions? Is vocational technical training that puts workers on the job in our community a vital role for the school? Is workforce training, where area residents get updated skills to enter or re-enter the job market a worthy program? How valuable is dual enrollment where area high school students can take college classes while finishing high school, giving them a leg up both financially and scholastically shortening the time needed to complete a college degree?

Three candidates are committed to continuing the path of what makes NIC such a great community educational partner. They understand the role of board of trustee members is to focus on ensuring faculty, staff and students have all the tools necessary to succeed and the support that is required to make that happen. A board member’s role is not to meddle in what is taught or what is in the college’s classes and programs. That’s the role of professional faculty, administrators and staff.

If you value all that NIC means to this community and North Idaho region, there are only three candidates truly committed to doing what’s in the best interest of the college. Please support Brad Corkill, Pete Broschet, and Tarie Zimmerman.