CNCC survey results don't surprise officials

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That employees said they were overworked and underpaid didn't surprise Colorado Northwestern Community College Regional Advisory Board member Kandy Kropinak. Neither did students' plea for better classrooms or business leaders' requests for additional classes.

"All the issues raised didn't surprise the board," she said. We're aware of those."

The suggestions were made in response to a survey given to community members, business leaders, students, staff members, educators and elected officials in the CNCC service area. The survey was distributed in November, and the results were released Tuesday. They are available online at www.cncc.edu/strategic_planning/survey_summaries.

The results will be used to update the college's three-year strategic plan.

"We'll take these results, analyze and prioritize them and plug what we can into next year's budget," CNCC President Bob Rizzuto said.

In each survey category, the majority of surveys were returned from Craig, something that didn't surprise Kropinak.

"Craig is very active in their community college," she said. "Individuals are very supportive of the college and interested in it."

Rizzuto attributes the discrepancy in part to Rangely's lack of service clubs. There are none. In Craig, surveys were presented to service club members. Many surveys were returned online. All of Rangely's community surveys were returned on paper, which could indicate a lack of Internet access, Rizzuto said.

From the business sector, 36 of the 71 surveys returned were from Craig and 27 from Rangely. From community members, 93 surveys were returned from the Craig area and seven from Rangely.

Most striking, though, Rizzuto said, is that returns seem to represent an "either/or" mentality. Either people know the school well or they know nothing about it.

"There are a lot of people who use CNCC and like what we do," he said. "There are also a lot of people who don't know us. It's kind of a broad spectrum."

For example, 49 of the respondents in the business category market "don't know" in response to a question about the CNCC Foundation and its activities.

Overall, responses were positive with affordability, small class sizes and a caring, supportive staff noted as things people liked about the college.

Weaknesses included a lack of variety in course offerings, a need for more flexibility for working adults and budget constraints.

"We agree with everything they say," Kropinak said. "If we can just hang on and get past this economy, I know we'll do OK.

Seventy-nine surveys were returned from educators. The major suggestion was for CNCC to increase the number of vocational opportunities and that communication between the college and the school district should be enhanced.

Only one elected official from Craig returned the survey -- a Moffat County commissioner, who rated customer service and quality of education high.

Kudos were given for the Craig campus' nursing and cosmetology programs.

"Local residents help support those programs so much through the mill levy," Kropinak said. "We have to thank them."

One staff member wrote that the "devastating budget cuts that have been made have been brutal on morale. The double and triple duties that many people are having to do as a result of the cuts" are CNCC's main weaknesses.

A suggestion was made that the CNCC Foundation be expanded from a scholarship program to a grant-seeking, donation-collecting entity to help offset some budget cuts.

The college's next step is to give the survey to the Strategic Planning Committee for review and recommendations.

"We'll pick out areas that are weak and try to strengthen them and take our strengths and make them better," Rizzuto said.

The next step for the Craig campus is the possibility of a space analysis, which could lead to construction should funds become available from the state.

"Capital construction is a way down the road," Rizzuto said. "It's a dilemma because you have to grow and shrink at the same time."

Overall, he's happy with the survey results, but hopes in the future to get more returns, particularly from the Rangely area.

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