With the annexation of Salida School District R-32-J into the Colorado Mountain College district, the next stages in the partnership are beginning.

Following voter approval of the annexation, Colorado Mountain College can implement plans to bring more educational opportunities to the area.

The college has begun completing the internal work of adding a new location to the district operations.

“Salida has now become one of 12 CMC campuses and locations in the state’s Rocky Mountain region, and we are excited to create the student and community experience that we are known for around our district,” CMC Vice President Rachel Pokrandt said.

“We have a road map for the future, projecting into the next five years,” she said.

“There is a lot of background work that needs to be done to ensure smooth operations for students,” Pokrandt said.

The first order of business in Salida is to apply to the Colorado Board of Nursing for a program in partnership with Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center.

“This is a lengthy, one- to two-year project so we want to get started right away,” Pokrandt said.

She noted that CMC students living in the Salida and Poncha Springs district will immediately see a drop in tuition rates from $170 per credit hour to $80.

In January, the campus will form a CMC advisory committee, specifically for the Salida and Poncha Springs area, to provide a forum for community members to share ideas, express workforce and educational needs and help guide the development of the campus and activities, a CMC press release stated.

Every CMC district campus has an advisory committee.

In the spring Pokrandt will begin hiring for several positions to support academic, community and workforce programming as well as adjunct and full-time faculty.

The college also plans to offer new community education classes in spring.

Planning has already begun to expand concurrent enrollment opportunities at the high school and full-degree program offerings for the 2020 fall semester.

“The college takes very seriously the opportunity to serve Salida and Poncha Springs,” Pokrandt said, “and we are already fully engaged in the work we need to do to bring exciting programs and services to students in the area.”

Salida School District Superintendent David Blackburn said the district is excited to develop a multi-partner pathway. The next step for the district is to develop a strategic plan to lay out the process with CMC.

Part of that process involves community meetings and listening.

While some minor certification programs are planned to go into effect in the 2020 spring semester, such as in the building trades program, more changes and expansions in programming will occur in the 2020 fall semester.

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