TWIN FALLS • Six Magic Valley residents expressed concerns Monday about an expected influx of Syrian refugees in Twin Falls starting in October.
At a College of Southern Idaho board of trustees meeting, Rick Martin asked for a future agenda item to consider phasing out the Refugee Center program within six months, saying there’s not enough money to support it.
“This program is giving the college a bad rap,” he said. “Let someone else take it over.”
Board chairman Karl Kleinkopf told the speakers he appreciates their input and the board will respond to their comments in writing.
The Refugee Center programs are profitable for the college, he said, and the federal government decides how many refugees will come and from which countries.
The center doesn’t have any say in who comes in, said Vice President of Administration Mike Mason. And college officials don’t know whether incoming Syrian refugees will be Christians or Muslims, he added.
CSI’s Refugee Center is one of the most successful resettlement programs in the nation, Mason said, adding he guarantees another agency will continue to provide services from Twin Falls if CSI doesn’t.
In late April, the center announced it will likely receive 300 refugees from around the world – including Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—during the upcoming federal fiscal year.
It wasn’t long before questions started swirling in Twin Falls about these new arrivals from a war-torn part of the Arab world.
Several people told trustees Monday that Magic Valley residents need to have a say in which refugees come here and they worry it’s changing the city’s culture.
Billie Dinges, president of the Magic Valley Republican Women, said the group’s national federation has been working to educate about the dangers of the Muslim Sharia law.
One speaker said she’s worried refugees could be resettled in Twin Falls who’ve stood by as atrocities were committed against Syrian Christians. She said she’s not anti-immigration, but “it’s the person you’re bringing” and their dogma that’s the concern.
Rwasama told the Times-News earlier this month that the federal government does thorough background checks on refugees and fewer than 1 percent of all refugees are resettled in the United States.
During their Monday meeting, trustees also:
- Approved a three-year contract with Canvas by Instructure.com for a new learning management system. Trustee Laird Stone was absent from the meeting.
The system – which will be used starting in fall 2016 – will replace the current Blackboard system used by students and professors. College officials say it has been time-consuming for CSI employees to maintain.
In the past, Blackboard has gone down at critical times, President Jeff Fox told trustees, adding it will save money in the long-run by freeing up CSI employee time.
CSI self-hosts the Blackboard system, whereas Canvas will be managed by a company that will provide 24/7 support.
A selection committee reviewed bids from six vendors and recommended Canvas. Faculty and student senates also backed the proposal.
The college will continue to use Blackboard next school year, but will also pay $126,626.45 to transition toward the new Canvas system. It’s expected to cost $118,476.83 in fiscal year 2017 and $121,427.37 in fiscal year 2018.
- Heard a proposal to install six speed humps on campus. Trustees didn’t take action.
Speeding has been a significant issue, public safety director Jim Ellington said, adding many near misses have been reported.
The speed limit on campus roads is 20 miles per hour. “Unfortunately, signage has not been adequate,” Ellington said.
Kleinkopf said putting in six speed humps may be overkill and he suggested phasing in a project over time.