CNCC ponders ways to cut $420K from budget

Discussion began Wednesday about required budget cuts by the state for community colleges at the joint meeting of the Colorado Northwestern Community College boards.

After the board pondered how to trim $420,000 from CNCC's budget to meet a state mandate, nursing student Laurel Causer asked about expanding the nursing program.

Causer has completed her prerequisites and has been accepted to the program, but in a best-case scenario she would not start nursing classes until fall 2006.

"It is not possible for me to go anywhere else and to keep my scholarships. I must take 12 credits, which leaves me with nearly two years of classes out of my field," Causer said.

"In light of the shortage of nurses in the state and nationally and how successful the program is here, it makes sense for the boards to look at expanding the program," she said.

Causer is one of 42 students on a waiting list. The school doesn't have enough qualified faculty or clinical sites to move students through the program faster, said Marilyn Bouldin, director of the nursing program. The program also is costly, and the college's budget restraints won't allow for an immediate expansion.

Plus, "we're still in the infancy of this program and we need to get it right before we think about expanding," Bouldin said after the meeting. "We're very concerned about maintaining the quality of instruction for the students."

Nursing instructors are required to have master's degrees or be working toward them. There is a student-to-teacher ratio of eight or fewer to one when students are doing clinical rotations. Dean Hollenbeck, vice president of the Craig campus, said it was impossible to compete with the salary of the instructor versus that of a master's level nurse working as a nurse.

Bouldin invited Causer to become a student member of the Nursing Advisory Board.

Bouldin said the topic was being addressed at the state level. She said students on the waiting list would be put into a pool and notified about openings at other schools. She said such students would be notified about changes.

"We are raising the grade point requirement along with all prerequisites (that) must be completed prior to acceptance," she said.

Members of the Moffat County Affiliated District Board of Control, the Rangely Junior College District and the Advisory Council to the state Board of Colorado Community College and Occupational Education held their regular meeting from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Beef and Peppers restaurant. Early in the meeting, the boards discussed the state's mandate to cut CNCC's operating budget next year. The boards are expected to discuss the cuts for several months.

Interim Chief Financial Officer Bob Rizzuto showed members in a slide presentation how dollars coming into CNCC are spent. He said a student's education at CNCC costs $6,400 per full-time equivalency, which is a $4,200 drop since 1999.

In other business, the boards were told about new program progress and capital projects. The next joint meeting is in Rangely on Jan. 19.

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