An appropriation in the state’s capital construction budget will help Teton County’s only community college.
House Bill 194, signed by Gov. Matt Mead, appropriates $500,000 from the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account to the Community College Endowment Challenge Account for use as matching funds for Central Wyoming College’s new educational center in Jackson.
Reps. Andy Schwartz and Mike Gierau, both D-Teton, proposed the amendment to the House’s capital construction bill. The proposed amount was originally $1 million but was lowered to $500,000 during the session.
While the funding was cut in half, Central Wyoming College-Jackson Director Susan Durfee said it wasn’t something the college entered the legislative session expecting in any amount.
“We were delighted and thrilled that our representatives proposed the million-dollar match,” Durfee said. “Knowing that the state was going through some pretty dramatic funding cuts and looking for how to trim the budget, we were very delighted to see that the appropriation of $500,000 was there.”
The state treasurer will match each endowment gift by transferring from the challenge fund in an amount half of each endowment gift.
The school has until June 2023 to raise money, specifically earmarked for a new campus.
“That’s plenty of time,” Durfee said. “It is our hope to match that money quite quickly.”
Voters approved $3.82 million in a specific purpose excise tax election last May to cover the purchase of land in west Jackson, architectural design, engineering and planning.
CWC administrators say they face challenges such as a lack of space, which limits the number of students the college can enroll and delays graduation for students. The new center will have 12,000 square feet of classrooms, science labs, offices and a commercial kitchen, a campus that CWC estimates will serve an additional 200 students.
Planning of the facility is “going slowly, but it’s going great,” Durfee said.
The town of Jackson Planning Department is reviewing building plans, and a planning commission meeting is scheduled for May 2. In the meantime Durfee and her colleagues remain busy.
“We are forging ahead on academic plans to fit into the new building,” she said.
Since they are working within state requirements for educational buildings, Durfee said the project has had to “pace itself to their process.”
“We just got the final designs,” she said. “It’s very exciting. This appropriation is a really exciting sign of support by the state, particularly in the era of budget trimming. It’s also an example of how supportive and creative our Teton County representatives are when they get to the legislative session.”