Senate File 83, the bill that would separate Gillette College from the Northern Wyoming Community College District, is on the floor of Wyoming’s House of Representatives this week.
Having passed the Senate earlier and the House Education Committee, the measure went to the floor of the entire House on Monday. The bill passed the House Education Committee last week with unanimous approval.
If the bill passes the House and is signed into law by Governor Mark Gordon, the measure will allow Campbell County voters to decide whether they want to create a new Gillette College district with its own seven-member board of trustees. The voters also will be asked whether they want to levy a tax of up to 4 mills to fund the new college district, and they will be asked to vote on seven people to serve on the board of the new district.
Gillette College has been part of the Sheridan County-based Northern Wyoming Community College District, under which Gillette College was created in 1969, and no tax is currently levied in Campbell County.
This will be the third time that Gillette College has tried to separate itself from the Northern Wyoming Community College District. The latest effort was initiated after the Northern Wyoming Community College District, in a budget-cutting measure last summer, voted to do away with athletic programs.
The heart of the issue, according to Campbell County Commissioner Rusty Bell, one of those spearheading the separation efforts, was whether a college in Campbell County should be regulated by a board whose members reside solely in Sheridan County and are elected solely by Sheridan County residents.
The Northern Wyoming Community College District operates colleges in Sheridan and Gillette and a Sheridan College campus in Johnson County. But both Campbell and Johnson counties are represented by advisory boards that appoint representatives to attend trustees’ meetings but that have no actual vote in those meetings.