Election Connection: Camdenton R-III - OTC annexation Q&A

Lake Sun Leader

Voters will take part in a big decision Tuesday as the vote to annex the Camdenton R-III school district into the Ozarks Technical Community College district will be on the ballot. OTC Assistant Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Danny Gutirrez took the time to answer some questions to better inform the public on what they will be voting for. 

1. What kind of response have you received about the proposition so far? Any expectations heading into the vote?

As with any issue that involves taxes, there are many questions to answer – not the least of which is understanding exactly what OTC would bring to the Lake. Since the Lake area is not served by a public comprehensive community college campus, we’ve been focused on providing information on the value and services we would bring to the region. The vast majority of people we’ve engaged with, both in-person and online, are excited about the opportunity for students to remain in the area while earning a valuable degree and reinvesting in the community.

2. Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed any part of the plans OTC has in the Camdenton School District should the vote pass? 

None whatsoever. The college still plans to purchase 10-20 acres and build an approximately 60,000 square foot comprehensive community college campus in the Camdenton School District. The pandemic has not negatively affected OTC’s enrollment due our unique student engagement and support model. The college has seen double digit percentage increases in enrollment this summer, which is in stark contrast to our sister institutions across the state.

3. Have there been any common criticisms about the OTC ballot issues that you've seen and want to comment on or clarify? 

·       OTC is a public community college. Not a for-profit company or private college.

·      All property taxes and tuition received in the Lake area will remain local to support OTC’s comprehensive campus.

·      Programs offered at the OTC campus will be based on local business and industry needs to help build and support workforce development.

·      At 20 cents, OTC has the lowest tax rate of any community college in the state. Half of the 20 cent levy will sunset and must be renewed periodically by all voters in the OTC district – including communities from Hollister to Everton and, potentially, Camdenton.

·      OTC’s location in Lebanon is not a campus. It is an education center located outside the OTC district. Only communities in the OTC district are eligible for a comprehensive community college campus, as Camdenton will be if the vote is successful.

4. Feel free to add any information here as a last note to the community about what OTC has to offer through this proposal. 

The current economic situation that we face from the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates why, more than ever, a growing community needs a comprehensive community college campus to help train the current workforce and to develop the future workforce, which will help diversify and strengthen the local economy.

If the vote is successful, the immediate benefit will be for students, of any age, who will receive a 50 dollar per credit hour discount on OTC tuition. That equates to approximately $1,500 in savings for a full-time student per year.