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Delia Barragan, 18, takes notes during Mike Pohanka’s macroeconomics class in September 2017 at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. 

TWIN FALLS — College of Southern Idaho trustees endorsed a proposal Monday to offer two bachelor’s degrees — possibly starting in fall 2019.

CSI wants to offer its first bachelor’s degrees — advanced food manufacturing and teacher education — and if it gets the necessary approvals, it would be the first in Idaho to do so.

The college’s board voted 4-0 to support the idea. Trustee Jan Mittleider was absent from the meeting. The proposal now goes to the Idaho State Board of Education for consideration.

It’s a way to respond to workforce needs, CSI President Jeff Fox told the board.

“This is not about turning CSI into a four-year school,” he said. “No way, no how.”

There’s a lot of enthusiasm on campus about the proposals, executive vice president Todd Schwarz said but added the approval process will be a little daunting.

The idea behind the teacher education program is rooted in data showing there’s a statewide teacher shortage. And a January report by Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest shows the problem is worse in the Magic Valley than the rest of the state.

“We do have a teacher crisis,” Fox said, adding south-central Idaho’s eight-county region is hit the hardest. “Community colleges deal with workforce problems.”

CSI officials have talked with Idaho State Board of Education leaders, local school district superintendents and state legislators, Fox said, and has received letters of support from superintendents.

There’s data showing some students who complete an education degree at CSI don’t continue on to earn a bachelor’s degree, Fox said, including some who can’t leave the Magic Valley to further their education. Some four-year universities, though, offer programs in Twin Falls.

Fox said he’s not interested in replicating teacher education programs already offered in Idaho. “What we have now is a pipeline that’s not working for our region.”

CSI wants to look at how to get qualified teachers into classrooms quicker, Fox said. The program would allow students to earn a bachelor’s degree in three years.

Trustee Laird Stone — who has served on education boards for 16 years, including the Idaho State Board of Education — said four-year universities have failed miserably at addressing the teaching shortage. As for CSI’s bachelor’s degree proposal, it’s past due and “there really, really is a need for it.”

Trustee Karl Kleinkopf said he’s excited about the degree proposal. “This is a pathway forward for the College of Southern Idaho,” he said, adding the college is demonstrating leadership. “I love it.”

For the bachelor of applied science in advanced food manufacturing, it’s also a response to workforce needs and is supported by regional industries, Schwarz said. Companies are having trouble finding mid-management employees, Fox said.

A CSI curriculum committee has already supported the proposals for the two bachelor’s degrees. After getting approval from the Idaho State Board of Education, CSI would have to work with its accreditation agency, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

During the Monday meeting, Schwarz also presented a three-year plan for future technical certificates and associate degree programs. No decisions have been made.

Proposals include massage therapy and medical lab assistant, which could start in fall 2020. Others could include a different type of engineering degree — an associate of science — as well as a new cybersecurity and information assurance offering, a basic technical certificate in viniculture and health information technology.

During their meeting, trustees also:

  • Voted to increase tuition by $10 per credit for next school year, up to $140 per credit.

CSI’s Student Senate voted 11 in favor and one abstained in support of the tuition increase, dean of students Jason Ostrowski said.

“This is one of the harder choices we make because it affects the students directly,” Fox said.

  • Awarded a contract for architectural and engineering design services to LCA Architects and NAC Architecture for a residence hall remodel and dining hall project.

An estimated cost for a new dorm and the timeline haven’t been set. The new dorm will be on CSI’s Twin Falls campus near the existing 240-bed Eagle Hall — currently, the only residence hall.

  • Gave the OK for CSI officials to negotiate health insurance coverage for employees for fiscal year 2019.

Two major changes for health insurance would be offering a high deductible plan at no cost for employee-only coverage and CSI would pay for a $500 health savings account, and to require employees to pay 30 percent of the total family premium above that of a single plan.

Dental plan benefits will remain the same.

CSI is facing a 10.6 percent increase in health insurance costs and a 4 percent increase in dental insurance costs.

  • Authorized issuing contracts for next school year, with a 2-3 percent raise for employees, along with increases for rank, degree and changes in duties, and some one-time merit increases.
  • Approved meal and room rates for Eagle Hall, Northview Apartments and Eagle View Apartments for next school year.

CSI housing rates will remain the same for next school year. The minimum meal plan will increase to 150 meals per semester. CSI will also pay a 2 percent increase to Sodexo, its food service provider.

  • Awarded a five-year contract with the possibility of two, one-year extensions to Swire Coca-Cola for exclusive beverage vending rights on CSI’s campus.
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