CMC board to discuss ESL fees
SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit’s representative to the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees wants a hearing on whether the college should start charging for English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction.The courses are now free, but the college administration wants to charge non-native students to take the classes starting in January 2006 to defray expenses and create a sense of value that might result in more consistent attendance.”It’s the board’s responsibility to establish policies for the college, and this is a little different than more traditional kinds of courses,” said CMC’s Summit County board member, Dick Bateman. “In addition to that, it is my belief that the college needs to meet the needs of the community, and English as a Second Language (instruction) is one of those needs, especially in a community like ours,” Bateman said.Friday’s Summit Daily News reported the college’s trustees were not scheduled to address the issue, since ESL classes are noncredit courses, which generally don’t fall under their purview. The proposed fees are not a stand-alone agenda item for the board’s July 11 meeting. However, some board members have notified board chair Doris Dewton that they plan to add it to the meeting’s agenda.Bateman doesn’t think the college should implement fees for ESL classes, but said he’s “willing to listen to the arguments before I finalize my decision.”The CMC administration has not yet proposed how much the charge would be, and there is some disagreement on why fees are necessary and how high they should be.In Friday’s Summit Daily News, Peggy Curry, dean of CMC’s Vail/Eagle Valley campus, said the fees might be as high as $100 for a 15-week course.”I think there was some opinion that it shouldn’t be so small that it didn’t cover the additional cost of collecting the money,” Curry said Friday during a phone interview.However, CMC president Bob Spuhler argued a charge of $8-24 would be more appropriate.”If we thought for a minute that this would raise a fence and create a financial barrier, this would have been a very short discussion,” Spuhler said Friday.And Spuhler’s reasons for considering the fee differ somewhat from those of Curry, who asserted that the college needs to cover some of the ESL program’s cost. In Spuhler’s mind, the fees might alleviate some attendance and administrative issues.”Attendance is very good for some students,” Spuhler said. “Others just come and then float away. The hope is that, by charging a minimal fee, people would take attendance more seriously.”Spuhler also said that some ESL students register multiple times in the same semester, creating confusion about enrollment numbers. And requiring payment at the time of class registration could cut down on multiple registrations by the same student.Furthermore, Spuhler said that surveys of Latino students have indicated that they would be willing to pay for ESL classes.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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