College Commission approves separation of Gillette College

If all goes according to the hopes of supporters of the plan, Gillette College will become a separate Wyoming college district in another two to four years.

Rusty Bell, who’s a Campbell County commissioner and one of those who support the separation, said the process will take time.

But the separation came a step closer late last week when the Wyoming Community College Commission gave unanimous approval to the proposal.

He said two steps remain in the approval process, starting with Wyoming’s legislators who must okay the proposal in their session next year. At this time, he said, he doesn’t know when that will happen.

If the Legislature approves separate status for Gillette College, Bell said the issue then must go before Campbell County voters, who will be asked if they want to form a community college district in Campbell County with authority to levy up to 4 mills in property tax to fund the district.

Bell expects that question to be put to voters in May or August. He said he thinks there’s currently a lot of support for the proposal.

Bell has said in past interviews that a driver of the current movement for a separate college district is that decisions are made for Gillette College by a board of trustees that are elected entirely within Sheridan County.

Bell said the recommendation of the Community College Commission is that Gillette College stay affiliated with the Northern Wyoming Community College District while Gillette College goes through an accreditation process.

Gillette College was organized in 1969 as part of the Northern Wyoming Community College District, which also operates Sheridan College and the Sheridan College Campus in Johnson County.

Both Gillette College and the Johnson County campus have advisory boards, and the chairs of those boards attend Northern Wyoming Community College meetings. But the advisory boards don’t have voting privileges, and proponents of the separation plan say they have little local control over what happens at, or to, Gillette College.



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