Colorado Northwestern Community College officials are bracing themselves for what could be up to a 15-percent budget cut from the state.
"I received an e-mail from the state the other day asking me to tell them what cuts can be made that don't affect the students," college President Peter Angstadt told students and faculty at the CNCC Craig campus Thursday. "The problem is any cut we make will affect students."
Angstadt was in Craig for what he hopes will be a once-a-semester meeting with local students, he said.
Budget concerns were one of the main topics discussed by the president during the luncheon.
"I want to talk to you about what you can do to be advocates for your college," he told the students.
"The Legislature won't listen to me or the faculty because we have a vested interest in the college. They will listen to you."
Angstadt encouraged the students to contact state officials and tell them the importance of the post secondary education they are receiving at CNCC.
"Talk to legislators about what your education means to you," he said.
Angstadt told students that copies of contact information for state representatives would be posted throughout the campus this week.
"Every cut that is made hurts the students," he told them.
Because of the anticipated cuts that could amount to more than $800,000 or 11 percent of the system's total budget officials have not filled a few vacant positions, including a registrar and librarian, Angstadt said.
"I don't want to hire someone and then tell them a week after they're here not to unpack because we don't have a job for them," Angstadt said.
Although the budget is tight and a few positions might remain vacant for awhile, both Angstadt and CNCC Vice President Dean Hollenbeck said students will not have to absorb the impact of the budget cuts by paying increased tuition rates.
"I don't think it will happen," Angstadt said. "The government has held the line on tuition increases. A lot of legislators have been adamant in saying they will not raise tuition."
Hollenbeck said CNCC would continue to provide free tuition to county residents.
"I think every student in Northwest Colorado should go
here their first two years because it cuts the cost of college in half," he said.
The fact that it is free does not compromise the quality of education at the school, Hollenbeck said.
"I'd put this faculty up against anybody," he said. "We have very quality instruction here."
Other items of business discussed Thursday included the school's plans for growth and additional programs.
Hollenbeck said the school hopes to have a new facility built in 2007.
The goal is to break ground on the new site in 2005.
Because those plans are still a few years away, he said the current tight budget will not affect the school's development plans.
"It's still about three years down the road," he said. "If we were going to do something today, it wouldn't happen."
Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org