CNCC student numbers up, administrators continue to cut costs

Cosmetology coordinator hopeful budget cuts won't impact program

Amy Hamilton

Tracy Caddy worries everyday about future funding for her program.

As the coordinator for the budding cosmetology program at Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC), Caddy pays strict attention to her enrollment numbers–just one way the college gauges how it should doll out dollars.

“I think about it all the time,” Caddy said. “The budget cutbacks have already had an effect. But I think if we keep getting students, it should be OK.”

Caddy and the almost two-year-old CNCC cosmetology program are somewhat lucky.

Student numbers in the beauty program are so far keeping up with last year. Caddy estimates a current average of 30 full-time equivalent (FTE) students spread across her three programs where students can earn degrees as a cosmetologist, esthetician or a nail technician.

A FTE student represents a 12 credit hours course load per semester.

On the Craig campus, student enrollment is up almost 9 percent, or by about 10.6 FTE from Sept. 22 of last year.

And district-wide enrollment is up 22.8 percent since last September.

While CNCC’s student numbers are on the rise, it may be too soon to tell if the state budgets cuts will again have a trickle down effect on the school. Vice President Dean Hollenbeck said it seemed hopeful the college would escape the gouging state cuts this year that plagued CNCC in the last year and a half.

CNCC cut its budget by $1.3 million in the last 18 months, Hollenbeck said. The move claimed 22 staff positions spread throughout the district campuses. Those positions were cut from areas that administrators thought would have the least impact to students.

Still, day-to- day operations have changed as all departments, “have become more frugal,” he said.

“That’s kind of the statement of the day,” Hollenbeck said. “Save more money. We still need to come up with more money to make everything work right.”

Mary Shearer said she’s recently taken on a larger role with her position as director of public information for the college.

“We all have a lot on our plates,” she said of the increased workload of CNCC employees. “At one time I just promoted the Craig campus. Now I take a more institutional approach and do advertising and work that carries over to the whole district.”

Because of a district-wide hiring freeze, Caddy finds herself donating extra work hours to simultaneously balance her duties as an instructor and an administrator. Last year, Caddy lost one of her instructors and the position wasn’t refilled due to the cost savings of attrition. Now with two full-time and two part-time instructors including Caddy, the loss of another teacher would be devastating, she said.

“If I lost another instructor it would kill us,” she said.

According to Hollenbeck, the college is facing the challenge of balancing enrollment increases against funding.

The school should have a more clear picture in the coming months of how much money it will receive from the state, he said.

“I’m not anticipating cuts this year but that could change based on the governor,” Hollenbeck said.

In the wake of the school’s extreme budget and staff cuts, administrators hope for a smoother year this year.

“It’s always a challenge to work with reduced staff,” he said. “We’re looking at everything frugally.”

If cuts are inevitable, CNCC President Peter Angstadt said those changes would be made at the end of the school year “because you don’t close a business when you still have people in it.”

Because taxes from Moffat County residents pay into the college, which helps fund many student scholarships, CNCC is better off right now than a lot of other schools.

“We’ve been really blessed that we’ve had the taxing district in place,” he said. “It’s really helped us weather the storm.”

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or

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