Commission places CNCC on priority list

College requests money for academic building design work

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— John Boyd, Colorado Northwestern Community College president, said he's satisfied with his school's rung on the pecking order of capital improvement projects for colleges across the state.

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education placed CNCC's request for about $2 million - state money that would pay for the design of a Craig campus academic building - at 19 on a list of 32 projects requested for funding.

The commission approved the list Thursday.

"The business officer for the (Colorado Community College) System as well as our lobbyists have said that's a pretty good spot there," Boyd said. "Obviously, everything will depend on where we end up on the final list. : We're a lot closer than we were before, so I'm pleased."

CNCC is attempting to build a $34 million campus in Craig that would include the academic center, which would account for about $24 million, a career and technical center, and a residence hall that would house 24 to 26 students.

The college's slot on the priority list doesn't ensure it will receive the requested money. The priority list will be cycled through various government and Legislative committees before any money is allocated for 2008-09.

The Legislature would have the final say on CNCC's request and will make a decision at the end of the upcoming session.

Jon Karakoulakis, Commission on Higher Education spokesman, said the commission received 51 total requests. Thirty-two were placed on the priorities list, he said.

The first 11 on the list are continued projects that received money last year, the spokesman said.

One of the legislative committees that will consider the Commission's request, as well as other capital projects across the state, is the legislative Capital Development Committee. Three state senators on the CDC visited the Craig campus site this week while on a tour of proposed Western Slope projects, Boyd said.

The college president said he believed the committee members were pleased with what they learned about CNCC and the proposed campus project while on the tour.

"I think we had a very productive meeting, and I think they were very impressed with the partnerships we've created here," said Boyd, of the joint ventures the college has entered into with The Memorial Hospital and private industries.

The Commission on Higher Education also approved Thursday a proposed 5-year Capital Improvements Program for state schools covering the fiscal years 2008-09 to 2012-13.

The proposal included requests for 217 capital construction projects and listed capital needs of $3.7 billion total. Of that figure, the state has been asked for $1.7 billion with the various institutions covering the remaining sums.

"This list illustrates the very real capital needs facing public institutions of higher education," Commission chairman Ray Baker said, in a press release issued Thursday. "With construction cost inflation rising at 1 percent to 2 percent per month, it makes sense and saves money for these projects to be funded and constructed as soon as we can."

"These capital projects are crucial if Colorado is going to have the capacity to meet growing demand for post secondary education for Colorado students in coming years," added David Skaggs, executive director for the Colorado Department of Higher Education. "We'll need more facilities to prepare students for a 21st century workforce."

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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