CNCC facing budget cuts |

CNCC facing budget cuts

County commissioners meet with school representatives

Susan Cunningham

Colorado Northwestern Community College faces hefty budget cuts though enrollment numbers are increasing, college officials told Routt County commissioners Monday.

“Being part of the state system is probably not a good thing right now,” said Peter Angstadt, president of the Craig campus.

The state’s community colleges received $110 million last year, the same that was allocated in 1990. This year, $95 million statewide was allocated, with more cuts likely.

“It just seems like we’re going back in time,” Angstadt said.

Last year, CNCC faced cuts of 27 percent, with another 5 percent to 10 percent expected for this year. In 2001, the college’s budget was $5.6 million, but in 2003, the budget decreased to $4.5 million.

The college has dealt with the decreasing funds through retirements and resignations, losing 29 of 100 positions, Angstadt said. Cutting staff means there are fewer people to do the same amount of work, which is “tough for morale,” he said.

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With less funding available, he said the only option would be to make more cuts in the college’s costs.

At the same time, enrollment is at an all-time high. The number of students grew at a rate of 8 percent last year and 9 percent this year.

The colleges only receive 25 percent of their funding from student tuition, with the rest coming from the state, and aren’t allowed to raise tuition because of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights rules.

CNCC officials are hopeful the Joint Budget Committee will follow Gov. Bill Owens original plan to not institute cuts, Angstadt said. Because of regulations such as TABOR and the Gallagher Amendment, cuts mostly are felt by community colleges and Medicaid programs.

College officials said the new nursing program has met with wide success, but they said adding the program has meant taking away from other programs and classes.

Also at the school update meeting, Brian Hoza of Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus, reported that enrollment was up 15 percent in the fall and that the college would be able to keep tuition levels steady for the third year in a row. The college also plans a visual and performing arts center.

School officials from the Steamboat Springs and Hayden districts gave updates on their districts, and Routt County early childhood supervisor Renee Donahue reported that activities were planned for April, the Month of the Young Child.