SUMMIT COUNTY - Colorado Mountain College is one step closer to realizing a hefty goal - to offer four-year baccalaureate degrees to its mountain-town students. Governor Bill Ritter is set to sign the CMC baccalaureate bill at the Breckenridge campus Thursday, which will OK the initiative at the state level. The signing presentation is scheduled for 3 p.m. in the new building's amphitheater, and Ritter will be accompanied by state Sen. Dan Gibbs and state Rep. Christine Scanlan."I'm really excited that this bill will be signed in Summit County," Gibbs said. "The public is welcome to attend."Currently, the college offers only two-year associate's degrees. Once the bill gets a signature, CMC must then take the necessary steps for accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and the blessing of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. To get final approvals, CMC must be able to demonstrate the need for new degree programs, as well as its ability to administer and fund them.CMC hopes to offer preliminary upper-level classes as early as fall 2010, and a limited number of four-year degree programs could potentially be in place by the following fall."They're looking at different programs for different campuses, depending on what will make the most sense," Gibbs said of choosing what majors could be offered. "They'll do survey studies of current students on what programs they'd like to see get offered, and community surveys as well."
While CMC readies to move forward on its four-year degree program, the college board of trustees is also readying to approve its 2010-11 draft budget. CMC's draft budget currently plans for its total projected revenues to total $65,538,900, and expenses will equal its revenues. The vote on the proposed budget is set for June 21 at the CMC campus in Aspen."The next three years are very uncertain for state and property tax funding, and the college and board of trustees are budgeting very conservatively in preparation for expected shortfalls," said CMC public information officer Debbie Crawford.For the 2010-11 school year, CMC officials have factored into its draft budget the potential for a drop of approximately 50 percent in funding received from the state. This determination was based on the legislative language in the Higher Education Flexibility bill, Crawford said. The community college is also expecting a decrease in property-tax collection funding. In response to possible shortfalls, CMC plans to raise its tuition "moderately," by $4 per credit hour for in-district students, $7 per credit hour for in-state students, and $53 per credit hour for out-of-state students."We project our revenue from tuition to increase because of both higher enrollments and increased tuition rates," Crawford said.Money is also being set aside for CMC's facility master plan, which includes replacing an old structure in Steamboat Springs and the expansion of its building in Edwards. "Our budget for next year calls for putting another $8.6 million toward capital construction, and nearly $3.5 million for minor maintenance and remodels," Crawford said. "Unlike all other colleges in the state except one, we don't receive funding from the state for buildings, so we must save ahead and work with our communities to replace or remodel aging structures."CMC's Breckenridge Campus last year moved to a newly constructed building off Coyne Valley Road, and the Dillon Campus is undergoing an expansion.CMC's draft budget can be viewed at www.coloradomtn.edu. Click on the following pull-down menus for access - "Communities & Friends," then "Board of Trustees," and then "Budget & Audit." Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at email@example.com.