Just weeks into the implementation of its Five Year Strategic Plan, the administration of Southeast Community College has announced that the college, with existing campuses in Beatrice, Lincoln and Milford, is making its way to Falls City.
Urging from the EDGE Tri-State Labor Basin Committee, particularly the efforts of Committee Chairman Charlie Radatz and EDGE Executive Director Beckie Cromer, as well as some 200 letters from the general public, helped convince SCC officials to make Falls City its No. 1 priority in expansion with a new education and training site. Officials have already engaged in discussions to lease classroom space, complete with a computer lab and office, and hope to be up and running as early as Jan. 1, 2016.
“This new SCC Outreach Center will offer classes to provide students with many of the skills needed for existing and new job openings,” Radatz writes in a letter submitted to and appearing in The Journal today. Our committee has found a need for classes to prepare persons for welding jobs and classes for those entering and upgrading their skills in the health care industry and these will certainly be among the offerings.”
An SCC Open House event will be held from 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, at Prichard Auditorium, 312 W. 17th Street in Falls City as SCC prepares for the opening of its new Falls City Outreach Center.
“We are very excited to be expanding into Falls City,” Stu Osterthun, SCC Administrative Director of Public Information and Marketing, said.
The Tri-State Labor Basin Committee, besides Cromer and Radatz, includes Falls City Mayor Jerry Oliver, District 56 FCPS School Supt. Tim Heckenlively, WASP Plant Manager Jerry Koopman, Airlanco Human Relations Director Katie Youngquist, Community Medical Center CEO Ryan Larsen, Falls City Healthcare Community Administrator Valerie Buckminster, and retired RN Doris Erickson. It began its work in August 2014 studying the need for workforce training to prepare members of the labor force for existing and anticipated future job opportunities. They first sought public support for a learning center in Falls City last April.
The group met in July with SCC President Dr. Paul Illich, who identified six sites, saying they represent “a starting point” for SCC to reach nearly 1.9 million people in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. SCC will also expand into Nebraska City, Plattsmouth, Wahoo, York and Hebron. Dr. Illich said SCC chose the six sites after several months of study, noting they wanted locales situated in population “hubs” where a significant number of students could drive fewer than 35 miles to attend classes. Available classroom space and access to high-speed Internet were other factors. He said each center will be tailored to meet the needs of its specific community and needs of local industry. Welding and nursing, to be sure, will be areas of focus in Falls City. The school hopes to gain more input from the public at next Tuesday’s Open House.
“The purpose of the Open House is to determine the range of classes that need to be offered,” Radatz said. “Whether you are a young person preparing to enter the workforce for the first time, his or her parents, an employer, an educator, an individual desiring to fulfill continuing education requirements, or a person wishing to upgrade your skills to improve your earning potential, please take time to visit with the staff of SCC at this important event.”
SCC has budgeted $1 million for its expansion, and the school plans to hire more than 50 new faculty and support staff. They’ll pay those salaries from an $83.7 million general budget, which represents an 11.5 percent hike from a year ago. Landowners will pick up much of the tab. The levy increase across the 15-county district will represent a 26 percent jump, from 5.97 cents per $100 of valuation to 7.57 cents. SCC also benefits from a 2.7 percent increase in its $27.3 million appropriation by the Legislature. That’s the largest share of the six Nebraska community colleges. Furthermore, students will pay $2 more per credit hour in tuition, bringing the cost to $60.50 per hour of study.
For every $100,000 of valuation, taxpayers can expect to pay $75.70, about $17 more, to support the community college system. But now, as Radatz pointed out in a “Sez I” printed in The Journal last spring, folks in this area will finally see those dollars at work. SCC received $2.8 million in property taxes last year from the four counties in the most southeastern part of Nebraska, yet out of 1,770 recent SCC graduates, only eight took jobs in Richardson County.
According to SCC placement reports, few Falls City area students return to the area following completion of their certificate, degree and diploma programs, resulting in a net out-migration of young people. Unemployed and underemployed people found the cost and time required made it impractical for them to commute to SCC campuses 70, 90, and 120 miles from Falls City to take classes.
“This is about inclusion of the rest of the 15 counties in our district,” Dr. Illich said, of the expansion.
Residents of SE Nebraska, NE Kansas and NW Missouri:
An exciting educational opportunity is being made available to you by Southeast Community College, in response to your letters and resolutions of support for an SCC Outreach Program to bring workforce training to residents of SE Nebraska, NE Kansas and NW Missouri.
SCC is currently in the process of arranging for lease of classroom space and an SCC Open House event will be held from 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, at Prichard Auditorium, 312 W. 17th Street in Falls City as SCC prepares for the opening of its new Falls City Outreach Center.
This new SCC Outreach Center will offer far more than the “life enrichment classes” available in the past. It will offer classes to provide students with many of the skills needed for existing and new job openings and enable them to earn credits toward certificate programs offered by the Beatrice, Milford, and Lincoln campuses. Our committee has found a need for classes to prepare persons for welding jobs and classes for those entering and upgrading their skills in the healthcare industry and these will certainly be among the offerings. But, the purpose of the Open House is to determine the range of classes that need to be offered.
Whether you are a young person preparing to enter the workforce for the first time, his or her parents, an employer, an educator, an individual desiring to fulfill continuing education requirements, or a person wishing to upgrade your skills to improve your earning potential, please take time to visit with the staff of SCC at this important event.
Charlie Radatz, Chairman
Tri-State Labor Committee