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Voters pass $40 million bond referendum for Eastern Iowa Community Colleges Tuesday

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 4:52 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 10:31 PM CST
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(KWQC) - Voters in several eastern Iowa counties passed a $40 million bond referendum to expand Eastern Iowa Community College’s career and technical education opportunities during a special election Tuesday.

The college’s service area includes Clinton, Jackson, Muscatine, Scott counties, and neighboring counties. The measure passed with more than 70 percent of voters, EICC officials said in a media release Tuesday night.

“We’re very excited and grateful to see this important initiative move forward,” EICC Chancellor Don Doucette said in the release. “We are thankful to our partners and the communities we serve for showing tremendous support in ensuring all members of our communities have affordable and equitable access to the educational opportunities.”

Chanelor Doucette says only about 45% of adults in our area have training beyond high school, while the Labor Department estimates around 65% of all jobs available or created in the next five years will need that post-high school education. “We have to close that gap to fill what our community’s need,” he adds.

EICC officials said they would use the funds for new and expanded career training facilities at all three of EICC’s Clinton, Muscatine, and Scott Community College main campuses. Funds also will be used for a new facility in DeWitt, expansion of programming at the college’s current Maquoketa training facility located next to Maquoketa High School, and a new agriculture education facility in Scott County.

The expansion will allow for increased services for all EICC students and those in the college’s high school Career Academies, officials said. Distance and accessibility are incredibly important in education, says Doucette: “if it’s more than 15-20 min drive it becomes difficult to access. What we’re looking at is getting equitable access to our affordable education. We know distance matters so we’re putting programs close to where people are, especially where they live. Our rural communities are underserved.”

According to officials, career academies allow current high school students to receive hands-on career training and college-level credits while still in high school. They also answer a training need for those students who might not normally continue their education past high school, providing them with skills they can use to enter the job market.

“Our rural towns and counties are especially underserved by career and technical education opportunities,” Doucette said. “These facilities will bring needed CTE programming within closer reach of rural communities as well as meet the ongoing needs of business and industry by developing a skilled workforce.”

Work on the new facilities will begin as early as this fall, with completed facilities expected to open in late 2022 or early 2023. To learn more about the college’s plans, visit eicc.edu/referendum.

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