C. College Cheaper Than Private Sector

It didn’t take long for the community college advocates to offer their view. This piece is by the spokesman.


The new school will be the first comprehensive community college in the Treasure Valley. It will also use an existing campus, so there won’t be new construction needed. The school will be located in Nampa at the current Boise State West campus.

Boise State is allowing the use of its campus for this community college. The cost to the taxpayers will be minimal: a $17 increase in property taxes for an average home of $152,000. It is truly not a lot of money, only $4 million between the two counties, for a project that overall is valued at $100 million (factoring in the cost of the property and such).

Let me tell you WHY we need this community college. Today in our storefront office on West Bannock, a young man walked in who had noticed the banners in the window. He wanted information on the community college. This man works in a service job and has an associate degree from ITT Tech. He wants to be a nurse, and started a program at Boise State but couldn’t continue because of the cost. He told us that he would be able to afford a community college – he just wants a chance to succeed in his chosen field.

If the young man couldn’t afford Boise State, he certainly couldn’t afford Stevens-Heneger or Apollo College. These private universities are a relative fortune. A community college can educate this prospective nurse at roughly half the cost BSU can. And he will become a productive, highly-earning member of society. Higher education brings higher incomes and that raises the quality of life for all of us.

I’ve spoken to several employers, especially in health care, law enforcement and firefighting and they all bemoan the idea of having to train their workers out of state or even to bring them in from out of the country. We have a shortage in all these areas and need qualified employees in public health and safety.

By 2020, Idaho is expected to have only 40 percent of the nurses needed to care for the health needs of the state’s population, yet each year only about half of qualified nursing school applicants are admitted into RN programs in Idaho. In fact, 65% of all nurses nationwide are educated at community colleges. And finally, the amount of money a business has to spend to train a clerical worker is staggering. The cost of sending an office manager to one of the training companies Mr. Rhodes mentioned versus sending that person to a community college is no contest; the community college will always be the lowest cost alternative.

The Treasure Valley is the largest metro area in the country without a community college. Remember, TVCC is based in Oregon. We do have many great schools here. But we also have more than 600 students from Ada and Canyon counties driving to the College of Southern Idaho. It is time to get with the times. At a minimal cost to taxpayers, we can finally join the rest of the country in offering a low-cost, high quality, locally-controlled community college.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Another miminal cost promise. All those promises add up to–too much property tax. Find another way to pay for your school.

  2. Just a couple of questions.
    1- Has a RN degree turned into an associates degree? I thought it was a 4 year degree. I don’t understand how a new community college will solve that. (I believe the same holds true for police employment)
    2- Just how does a 4 million dollar commitment turn into a 100 million dollar program? It appears that we want to include all the collegiate efforts in one sales pitch.

    It seems that the community college will have a tough time claiming the assets of the other entities. There may very well be a good arguement for a community college, but why do these people have to automatically bring out the “snow job” to get our approval? It makes me wonder what else is hidden in there.

  3. Cyclops–
    BSU currently has BOTH a 2 year and a 4 year RN nursing program. The 4 year degree is required to do supervising, teaching, and administration at most facilities.

    It doesn’t seem…LOGICAL that BSU would provide campus facilities for a nursing program at a junior college that would COMPETE with the existing program. Does the politically astute Dr. Bob have a hand in this that we don’t know about?

  4. I’ve heard the bit about firefighters a few times now, including on radio commercials and I can’t fathom what it’s about. At least in Boise, you don’t need a degree to become a fire fighter. You need to be 18 and pass a written test and a physical test. There isn’t a curriculum with a degree like in nursing. Have things changed?

    And firefighters are trained on the job, on the days they work (24 on 48 off). They certainly don’t go to classes on their off days. They barely want to be trained on the days that fall on a Saturday or a Sunday even though that’s the shift day they work.

    I don’t know why TVCC can’t fit the bill. Even though it’s based in (gasp) Oregon and is not home grown, why is that such a big deal?

    Someone needs to follow the money on this. Cui bono?

    I’m still voting no.

  5. One Correction: We did once have a community college in Boise; financed by a junior college local taxing district. Boise Junior College became Boise State University. The voters dissolved the taxing district when the BJC bonds were paid off sometime during the 1970s.

    The growth of BJC into BSU solved one educational problem and created another — we still need a junior college, now called community college. Boise State College originally promised to be both; Boise State University has found that more and more difficult.

    It is past time for this area to have a two-year community college again.

  6. From what I have read the community college people are not trying to pull a snow job… that article looks like they are being honest about the potential costs.

    It looks like the Community College campaign is trying to duplicate the successes of North Idaho College and College of Southern Idaho right here in the Treasure Valley. Last year BSU turned away 800 students for a number of reasons and those kids had nowhere to go. This along with the 600 students that go to CSI, nursing shortages, Boise police spending money to recruit officers from California, etc. Looks like there is a need to me.

    Sometimes we conservatives need to compare cost to value. This seems like a good value for the price at the right time. Community Colleges in other parts of Idaho and the nation are essential to education and keeping the economy strong…I don’t see what the problem is? As for the Oregon run TVCC you’re right it doesn’t fit the bill…if it did we wouldn’t be having this discussion because they would have already been turning out enough nurses, police officers and plumbers for the treasure valley.

  7. I will be very interested in how much the telephone poll is going to cost the supporters. I just received the 7th. phone call asking if I was for the community college.

  8. Steve Ackerman
    Mar 31, 2007, 3:15 pm

    I understand and appreciate Mr. Swift’s argument. Further, he clearly highlights and examples the need for a community college in the Treasure Valley.

    My concern is threefold: One, the tax base in which we want a community college to reside, Two, the slowness toward state and regional-based issues, and Three, the either-or debate that is shaping between only private sector or only public sector.

    By having community colleges reside at the county level only, we could overburden a tax base that while growing, must contend with other public services of an increasing population. The city of Kuna, where I live, doubled in population between 1990 and 2000. It has since doubled between 2000 and 2006, and appears to be on the verge of another growth spurt. The fastest growing demographic are people in their 20s and 30s who will want more education opportunities for themselves and their children. $17 now is not much, as Mr. Swift correctly points out, but can a county sustain the inevitable increases on its own? His own statistics about the coming nursing shortage demonstrate this issue is a lot larger than Canyon, or any, county.

    Second, while there has been movement in the legislature and elsewhere around the state — in part from prodding by well-intentioned groups like, I worry that we are not working in a truly comprehensive way that brings together all of this state’s regions. Why can we, for instance, work out programs that connect pre-law to our law school in Moscow? Why can’t more occur between private companies and private and public sector-based schools around the state? For example, would hospital systems in Eastern Idaho be more willing to pay for some of the current nursing programs offered by both private and public sector-based schools in the Treasure Valley in return for employee guarantees to work in one of their hospitals for three or five years?

    Third, the notion that it is either a public sector or private sector-based answer belies the creativity that can come from joint partnerships that leverage the best of both worlds.

    One of the reasons why these private sector-based schools have come to Idaho is the opportunity they see in our market. This competition has, and will continue to cause, our public schools to consider the types of degrees, courses, instructor talent, etc. they receive. Sadly, more needs to occur here. My concern is that counties will only address bits of the problem, while missing the larger need. When large companies invest in Idaho, our state is competing with Montana, Oregon, and others. Why can’t we create incentives for companies to want to pay for more schooling, as companies often do, in exchange for tapping the high work ethic-oriented and favorable work climate we provide? It’s time we recoginize that we are competing with other states. Why can cities, counties, and the state come together as a single entity and consider the combinations of public, private, online, etc. programs that can be created?

    We need to teach competitive strategy, offered in a limited way in both the public and private sector colleges, targeted management degrees broken down by industry, decisioning and gaming tactics that apply both to business and the public sector, and so on. This is a dynamic time for our state. Let’s take advantage of it by leveraging the best we have from all of our institutions.

    Thank you.

  9. Grumpy Old Guy
    Mar 31, 2007, 8:18 pm

    In addition to the two-year and the four-year nursing degrees offered by BSU it also offers, a LPN (licensed practical nursing) degree. There is a job demand for all of these types of degrees. Just as there is for the other occupations mentioned in the campaign.

    HOWEVER most of the ones being mentioned aren’t “higher education” these are vocational training programs. There needs to be a clear understanding of which the public wants and how best to deliver it. There are several vocational programs available here in the Treasure Valley, including those offered by BSU and BSU’s Vo-Tek program. I’d like to know if BSU will continue its Vo-Tek program in “competition” (and duplication) with the new community college.

    But, first I’d like the answer to vocational versus higher education.

    The difference between programs which offer vocational only programs and those which are offered through the community colleges is the addition of basic math and English classes, as well as some classes usually referred to as “general education”.

    I’d like some answers to some questions.
    –One, if a State-wide system is needed for four-year schools, why is the education in a two-year school in the control of a local district? Why NOT have a state-wide vocational training program, independent of the so-called higher education program?

    –Is the cost of a two-year program lower because a local district can offer such an education at a lower cost? If that is the case, why do we not seek taxing districts to offer the four-year programs and give the State the authority of “only” the post-graduate programs?

    –Why not have a single state-wide system which has two-year campuses, four-year campuses and a single graduate campus? This would allow students to save money by being closer to home and getting a similar education no matter where they attend, without the more duplication of the more expensive graduate programs, with their more sophisticated laboratories, libraries and faculties.

    I understand “community spirit”, what I don’t understand is why so many local businesses are advocates for this as if they expect the taxpayers to bear the complete load of preparing people as their employees.

    I have,in the past, always voted in favor of educational bonds even though I have often wished for straighter answers to my questions ahead of time. This time I have a strong feeling that I need to keep my hand on my wallet before the snake oil seeps into it.

  10. Come on people . . . the for profit institutions (UOP, George Fox, etc) want money to pay their shareholders and are trying to eliminate competition by opposing the community college. I’m all for privitization, but I also say “buck up and take the competition.” There are enough people in Idaho in need of higher education, so let’s offer a more affordable option.

    Anyone that opposses starting a community college in the Treasure Valley should be ashamed of themselves. A community college can only serve to better the people of our state – at a very minimal cost and a major boost to the local economy.

    And, I read “Insiders” comments tonight and can’t believe anyone would think that local control is overratted. That’s not really the issue – we are giving TVCC control and MONEY that should stay in Idaho. Voting for a community college is a no brainer.

  11. Hmmmmmm. . .Steve Ackermann must have been hired by one of the for profit institutions? Over the last six months his wife has been calling around EVERYWHERE – including to SUPPORTERS of the proposed community college – looking for a job for her husband. Steve is an adjunct teacher looking for more work. According to his wife, he is in SUPPORT of the community college. Steve, can you clarify – or, maybe have your wife do it for you?

  12. Steve Ackerman
    Apr 9, 2007, 12:12 pm

    It appears “Jim Boston” has me confused with another Steve Ackerman. For the record, I am an adjunct professor with Boise State University. I am also president of a research firm in Boise that does NO work in the education space. I currently do not have any connection to a for-profit college or university. I don’t know what kind of calls “Mr. Boston” is alleging my wife and I are making, but we’re not. I welcome anyone to call and check the facts.

    BSU is a good school with caring people. The students pay for their classes directly (while holding down jobs) or obtain the money from their parents and the citizens of Idaho. These schools do what they can. Often, I pay for extra things that go further than they can because of budget limitations and policy issues. Do I do it for the money? Not really. I do it because it offers more for the students and shows respect for the subject. I do it because I believe in educating students.

    These students are hungry for knowledge, and they want to learn. Yet, I don’t believe we provide enough creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship to enter the picture. We need to teach students how to think critically, to separate opinion from analysis, and to question the data that is thrown at them 24 hours a day.

    Would I teach a class at one of the local schools — public or private — if they called? Sure, if I have the time – I do work full-time. Have I done it before? Yes, and so what. I happen to work at a small business and teach on the side. I’ve done it for about 11 years, and I enjoy doing it. So “Mr. Boston,” I plan right on continuing to teach.

    My concern is that our rapid growth may overwhelm county-level budget capabilities. And I believe we can tap more from the private sector-based education and companies, which have come into this valley in droves. Our population is booming, budgets get allocated between competing departments. Job and market concerns, as well as competitive issues, come into play. These are not easy decisions for these institutions. And the adjuncts that do this work are invaluable to this community.

    “Mr. Boston” chose not to address these issues, deciding instead to attack my wife and I. All the while hiding behind an electronic veil. That’s a sad state of affairs that shows more cowardice than reason.

    So, “Jim Boston,” what is your response to the problems that have been raised in these articles on higher education? What is your answer to bringing in more companies and private schools to support more education through partnerships? What is your solution to the bill being proposed for county-wide funding? I, and several others have given their opinion. Where is yours?

  13. Steve – There is no confusion with regard to identity and certainly not an attack. I was just stating the facts. Your wife has called CC suppoters telling them that you are interested in adjunt teaching positions under the guise that you are a community college supporter. E-mails were also sent, although I don’t think it would be constructive to post those on this site. It’s OK that you have changed you mind. Just trying to get the story clear.

    And, I agree that there is ‘some’ for everybody. The area IS growing, so as the area grows, county budgets will grow due to the larger tax base. Higher education can be owned by out of state shareholders or the schools can be owned and locally CONTROLLED by Idahoans. It would be so awesome to provide affordable options for our kids. This is a big issue in Idaho. Some of the private schools do a great job of providing flexibility, but the cost of the programs are more than double of a typical community college. Let’s ensure our kids in the Treasure Valley area have BOTH options. Partnerships are great, but the cost of the private education is still higher. I am the parent of two high school students and aware of at least 10 kids in the senior class (at their repective school) that will be traveling to No and So Idaho to attend a college (cc’s) they can afford. Our future depends on educating our children. Let’s give them every chance. That’s why supporting a local, comprehensive community college is an absolute no brainer.

  14. Steve Ackerman
    Apr 11, 2007, 12:48 am

    Well everybody, I’m still not clear about these allegations. I work full time and teach a class or two on the side. It’s sad when questioning of motive and allegations are thrown around so loosely.

    As I mentioned, I’m more than happy to teach a class somewhere else — public or private and given time availability. I just don’t see the relevance. I’m also not wild about continued involvement of my wife in these conversations. Let’s end that ASAP.

    When a person makes claims about alleged phone calls, insinuating that my views have “changed” and that I am seeking a job “under the guise of” and so on, it conveys something that is not accurate. The fact is, Mr. Boston, you are not “just stating the facts.” You are making false accusations and trying to create a misrepresentation my part and you should stop doing so.

    I have not moved from wanting a community college to not wanting one. I have always believed Idaho needs a comprehensive college system that is a mix of public and private schools.

    I question whether a county can necessarily grow substantially to cover the costs of managing a college system. I believe we need more evidence to demonstrate that before embarking on that venture. Moreover, people work, live, etc. across counties and a county-based system would bring limitations as to which students it could accept that don’t fit with market conditions.

    On affordability, schools like the University of Phoenix conduct online-based schools that can be made much more affordable. Can our state schools not do something similar? Also, companies pay for tuition costs that can cover substantial portions of expenses. How about extending that further through a mix of employment guarantees and more tuition coverage?

    My argument is not a community college or nothing. It is that we need more support from private corporations located in Idaho. I believe such partnerships can make education more affordable. Further, I want the state of Idaho to do more, as a way of making college more affordable for everybody — not just a county in the Treasure Valley.

    This is a statewide issue, and we need a statewide solution. There are plenty of students throughout the state that lack the ability to afford college — not just in the Treasure Valley. All need more choice, and frankly, more competition.

  15. I think it is sad that Mr. Boston (doubt that is his real name; doubt he has the guts to use his real name, which would indicate where he works) would choose to attack someone rather than debate the issues at hand. It is clear that this individual works somewhere within the local education environment. If I were Mr. Ackerman, I’d get a lawyer to determine if “Mr. Boston” has released confidential HR-related information covered by Idaho State law (job applications are usually confidential at the least) and/or has used information to potential libel Mr. Ackerman.

    There is so much to debate and discuss here about community colleges (and related issues), it is a shame that an obvious CC support would stoop so low to attack an individual rather than than issues at hand. However, it has been my experience on this issue that the pro-CC supports are using emotional arguments & personal attackers to try to accomplish support for their positions. And Mr. Boston, as you said, “that is a fact”. Go post your dribble on MySpace with the rest of the kids and leave BG for the intellectual discussion that we all desire.

  16. Hi, my name is Jim Boston – and, I want to assure you that I’m only lone supporter, not part of one of the organized cc support groups. Also, my knowledge of Steve’s wife and her attempts to get her husband work and express Steve’s cc support was not part of any HR process at any organization – so, no laws have been broken (I assure you).

    The point of my comment was that Steve’s views have appeared to evolve over the last few months – just wanted to know. And, because the information has been based on coversations his wife has had with people – I thought it would be really helpful to get his views – straight from his mouth. None of this was intended to be an attack – but, Mr. Rhodes -with his latest comments have been the most disparaging so far. Just because we don’t agree with Mr. Rhodes, our thoughts have been charachterized with words like “dribble” and childlike. Is that an intellectual discussion?

  17. Rather than continuing a flaming discussion, Jim, why not get back to the issues, as I suggested?

    Here is a question I have. Why are there two organizations supporting the CC “Yes Vote”? That is, Community College Now and Community College Yes? What I find also interesting is that the CC Yes organization is a for-profit corporation with the state of Idaho (listed at

    Why is the listed president of the corporation also a full-time lobbyist for Micron, the co-founder of the corporate the former campaign manager for Gov. Otter, and the company treasurer an elections official with the Sec. of State’s office?

    I’ve been very clear about my stance on this issue and why I think the citizens of any county should not foot the bill. Now, I am even my intrigued about why some many individuals with high visible “day jobs” are forming a private, for-profit company to promote this issue. Thoughts?

  18. I have no idea??? Why are you asking me?? I would speculate that they think a community college would be a good thing for the Treasure Valley. Just a guess. We all get behind things we are passionate about – including you (I would guess). That doesn’t AUTOMATICALLY mean that there are sinister motives behind what they support or work for. I don’t know any of those people, but I do think a community college would be great for the Treasure Valley – especially our youth.

  19. Thanks for the 3 great articles and comments. Now living in Boise is great, driving east in the morning or west in the afternoon is not.

    Driving to the proposed campus for a proposed community college would not be fun.

    Voting no will be.

  20. Government cannot live within it’s means. Never has, never will.
    They continue to bleed every dollar thay can out of you and I. They continue to cater to special interest groups and minorities and those who overextend their finances and attempt to have families larger than they can afford.
    Do they plan to reimburse me for the education I was unable to get because of the lack of a Community College (CC)? I took it on myself to obtain any ‘special education’ required for my jobs by military service and on the job training. I worked hard for the respect and experience I use today in my everyday work environment and I observe the graduates of today who expect to be given that respect because they finished college. You can learn from a book, but to apply that learning takes experience on the job. To say the least, I am unimpresed by the push for a CC. Too many special interest groups are behind this push for the CC.
    Who stands to benifit? HP, Micron, St Als & Lukes? If you need an education, pay for it. Don’t ask me to support your children because you can’t. The government can’t pay their bills as it is. Why add additional load to the bloated budget they have amassed. Go to college and study finance and come back and tell me that adding to the government debt is a sensible or reasonable decision. What happens to you personally if you exceede your ability to pay your debts?
    The government on the other hand has exempted themselves from the laws that govern you. This is what they do best. Can you retire after 4 years in office?
    Let us elect government leaders who will pay the debts created by those who came before them then establish laws that govern and control government spending. After all, who is going to pay those bills the government is creating for you?

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