Trimming back

State budget cuts forcing CNCC to reduce programs, staff despite expected local surplus

State funding cuts have resulted in program and staff cuts at Colorado Northwestern Community College, school officials said.

Students are seeing fewer classes and less frequent course offerings. Also, five local positions aren't being filled after employees left, and one position has been cut.

Colorado Northwestern Community College-Craig Vice President Dean Hollenbeck has announced his resignation. He will stay until December, after which he'll move to Kansas to take the position as president of Fling Hills Technical College. "The college he's going to provides a great opportunity for him," CNCC interim President Bob Rizzuto said. "It sounds like a good fit, but he's definitely going to be missed in Northwest Colorado." Rizzuto said it's too soon for college officials to know how they'll go about filling Hollenbeck's position. "It was a shock to me," he said. "It caught me off guard. We really haven't had a lot of time to think about how we move forward." Rizzuto is here only through the end of the year, too. "We lose somebody who was really one of the true leaders of the college. He helped build several new programs and build up the Craig campus. We have some huge shoes to fill there." -- Daily Press staff

State budget cuts have cut into CNCC's general fund to the tune of $1.35 million from 2004 to 2006, school officials said. Nearly $900,000 was cut this year.

Interim President Bob Riz-zuto said CNCC's cuts were larger than many comparable schools. The state is attempting to get the school in line with other rural colleges in terms of funding.

CNCC's general fund covers operating costs for the Craig and Rangely campuses, as well as outreach programs in other communities. "We don't support Rangely, nor does Rangely support us," said college district board of control member Kandi Kropinak. "The state supports both of us."

The state subsidizes 55 percent of CNCC's general fund. The remainder comes from tuition and student fees.

"We've had to make some hard decisions," CNCC Vice President Dean Hollenbeck said. "Collegewide, we've had some reductions. We've had to look at all of the college and all of its staffing."

CNCC's general fund is used to pay employees, fund established programs and meet operating costs. The Moffat County Affiliated Junior College Dis-trict levies a property tax that can be used to pay for new programs, facilities, student assistance and some staffing. It cannot be used to pay professors.

That means that even though the mill levy is expected to bring in nearly $128,000 more this year than in 2004, those funds can't be used to offset the state funding cuts.

The result is that there are no business courses being offered at the Craig campus this fall, nor are there any mine-training classes. An administrative assistant position that served the nursing program part time has been cut.

"It has been difficult," Nursing Program Coordinator Marilyn Bouldin said. "Those duties have been added to what teachers do."

A volunteer now helps offset the workload.

Hollenbeck said staff members work hard to keep up morale when facing budget cuts and staffing changes.

"All the staff has a full load," he said. "We're all having to do things we haven't had to do in the past."

In other instances, Hollen-beck said, the college is working to save money by offering fewer sections of a single class.

"It has worked fairly well for the most part," he said. "Classes are bigger, which is good because we needed that."

On the other hand, the times classes are offered isn't always as convenient for students. It's something that's re-evaluated at the beginning of each semester, Hollenbeck said.

Finding teachers is another difficulty the college is facing. Darlene Ringhand, who taught business courses, left this year, and officials are working to fill the void and bring back the business classes.

"Those courses are coming back," Hollenbeck said. "It's not a permanent cut."

Other courses have been canceled because of a lack of participation. The state sets a specific number of students who must be enrolled for a class to be held, Kropinak said.

"If we found a program to be weak at this point in time, we would probably cut it, but that doesn't mean we can't bring it back," Kropinak said.

The Moffat County college district board appropriated $25,000 this year for recruiting and professional development, something it hasn't done in the past.

The local board also designated $60,000 for program development. Hollenbeck said several new programs are being considered, but most likely, power plant technology will receive the funds. Hollenbeck is working with officials with Tri-State Generation and Transmission.

Money also was set aside for marketing, scholarships, and a tuition buy-down program, in which local tax revenue is used to offset tuition costs for Moffat County residents.

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