LEWISTON, Idaho – The proposed new Career & Technical Education facility at Lewis-Clark State College cleared a major hurdle Thursday when the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) gave its unanimous approval.
The committee voted 20-0 to approve the Permanent Building Fund budget, which includes $10 million for the new CTE facility. This facility would house the college’s Technical & Industrial Division in the Lewiston Orchards. LCSC’s CTE funding was part of a $35 million higher education construction program proposed by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter that would transfer the money from the state’s general fund to the building fund.
The budget must still be approved by the Idaho House and Senate and then signed by the governor to complete the process, but budget bills are rarely changed by the legislative bodies once approved by JFAC.
“This is great news for the Valley’s youth and industries,” LCSC President J. Anthony Fernandez said. “The Governor and JFAC have given their support, now it’s time for the Lewiston community to do the same and say YES to Lewiston’s future.”
Fernandez was referring to the March 14 Lewiston school bond election to approve building a new high school, which would be located next to LCSC’s new CTE facility.
LCSC’s proposed 100,000 square-foot facility has a $20 million price tag and the college must come up with the other $10 million. Fernandez said the college will use a combination of reserve funds, grants, and fundraising efforts for its half of the cost. In passing the higher education capital projects, JFAC members added a trigger mechanism that says LCSC must first raise its share of the cost before the $10 million of state funding can be used.
"The idea of building a larger CTE facility to better accommodate our at-capacity programs, placing it adjacent to the proposed new Lewiston High School, establishing it as a regional CTE center, and tying our programming even closer to the workforce needs of industry is truly a win-win for everyone involved," Fernandez said. "LCSC career-technical students (many of whom have had to face waiting lists) will receive enhanced instruction in a roomier facility with state-of-the-art equipment, high schoolers from Lewiston and the surrounding areas will have even greater opportunities to earn college credit and take advanced coursework, and employers will be able to count on a steadier stream of qualified and skilled workers."
Fernandez and LCSC officials have been sharing details of the CTE building plans at various public events. The college also created a 10-minute promotional video “Building for the Future. Building Together.” that can be viewed below and will also air on KLEW-TV 3 (CBS) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.