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A new document is guiding the separation process for Sheridan and Gillette Colleges

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Northern Wyoming Community College District

Trustees of the Northern Wyoming Community College District(NWCCD) and the Gillette Community College District (GCCD) recently voted to approve a Memorandum of Understanding between the two boards drafted by their respective transition teams. That comes in addition to an agreement for the transfer of funds and debt to GCCD.

The memorandum also outlines how issues such as finances, insurance, and employee contracts, among others, will be handled in the separation process.

Gillette College interim President Janell Oberlander says that funding will be coming back to the GCCD that was once allocated to the NWCCD for Campbell County.

"The funds that will be coming back to the Gillette Community College District are funds that were generated through local one percent tax dollars from Campbell County and the City of Gillette that have carried over into reserves," she said. "And those carryovers have been accumulating over many years."

She said those funds have been going into reserve accounts if a staff position became vacant mid-semester and was not filled for several months, adding the would-be salary to the account, or if there were fewer expenses than anticipated from different funding mechanisms.

The GCCD has also taken on newly acquired debt in the separation process, namely with the debt load that comes with Inspiration Hall, the college's newest residence facility. Oberlander said there are four years left yet to pay off the facility’s debt. The next payment is due in the summer of 2022 for $244,871.18.

Dr. Walt Tribley is the President of the NWCCD and reiterated their support to help the GCCD gain its footing as an independent district. He says the NWCCD will also be newly independent, though issues remain as to how to offset the losses from fewer students and income.

"How the new Gillette Community College District moves forward in terms of receiving funding from Campbell County of the City of Gillette remains to be seen whether it will be needed by that new district, but these funds are funds that we have absolutely relied on to balance our budget over the years," Tribley said. "Going into July 1, 2022, that is very much on the forefront of our thinking about, 'how are we going to share the cost of Gillette and either exist without this funding from one percent city, one percent county, or make some other arrangements,'" he said.

Increasing enrollments at Sheridan College and the NWCCD is a major focus moving forward, Tribley said.

There is also significant concern with the perception regarding the accreditation status of Gillette College and the GCCD.

"They [the public] need to know with the utmost certainty that the curriculum and the courses and the degrees that are being offered in Gillette are accredited," Tribley says. "They're being offered through the Northern Wyoming Community College District that is fully accredited."

Once the GCCD is fully accredited, courses and degrees will then be accredited through them.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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