The Colorado Mountain College board of trustees unanimously approved a ballot initiative to ask voters to annex the area served by the Salida School District into the CMC taxing district.
The board took the action Wednesday at its combined annual planning retreat, work session and August meeting, a press release stated.
The language on the November ballot will ask CMC tax district voters:
“Without increasing taxes to the current residents of the Colorado Mountain College District, shall the Colorado Mountain College District be enlarged to include property within the boundaries of Salida School District Number R-32-J?”
The Salida School District board voted earlier this month to ask its own voters whether they should join the CMC district.
For the annexation to take place under state law, both voters in the district being annexed and those already in the college district must vote in favor of the annexation.
Jennifer Visitacion, president of the Salida school board, said, “We are pleased to hear that the CMC board of trustees passed their ballot language and are moving forward with the next step regarding Salida’s annexation into their district and pleased that we can move forward in community conversations about annexation.”
Salida Superintendent David Blackburn said he was really excited that the district and CMC are in unity.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for Salida,” Blackburn said.
Among the reasons CMC trustees have said they support the annexation of Salida School District following a feasibility study are:
- The Salida School District is a viable community for annexation into the CMC tax district.
- The area has educational needs similar to much of the CMC district.
- Adults living within the school district have more education than the state average, which mirrors other CMC communities.
- The community is growing faster than the rest of the state as a whole.
- The birth rate in Salida is growing faster than the death rate, suggesting that the community is becoming younger and attracting younger professionals with children.
- The Hispanic immigrant population in Salida and Poncha Springs is growing steadily and significantly. The expected growth in this population indicates strong potential enrollment across programs.
- The only age group in Salida with negative growth is 18- to 20-year-olds, suggesting that high school graduates generally leave the community for college outside the region due to the absence of postsecondary opportunities in the community.
- Unlike most other mountain towns, Salida has land to grow and thus should expect to experience sustained growth in the coming decades.
Currently the Salida School District is within the college’s three-county service area but not its six-county taxing district.
Residents living within the service area pay tuition of $170 per credit hour, while those living within the taxing district pay $80 per credit hour.
The lower tuition rate is because taxpayers within the CMC district pay a 3.997 mill levy that supports the college, a mill levy that has not changed in several decades.
If the Salida School District were to join the CMC district, those taxpayers would pay the same mill levy.
However, adding the Salida School District to the CMC district would have no impact on current taxpayers within the CMC district.
The last school district to be successfully annexed into the CMC district was the Steamboat Springs School District in 1982.
In other Chaffee County-related business, CMC trustees voted unanimously to approve that management make final arrangements regarding a requested drainage easement on the property of the Chaffee County Academic Center in Buena Vista.