Welcome to Colorado Mountain College, Salida
It’s been 35 years since Colorado Mountain College expanded its district to include a new community. On November 5, voters overwhelmingly chose to annex the Salida and Poncha Springs into CMC’s district. Now, Salida and Poncha Springs locals who live within district boundaries pay CMC’s low in-district tuition rates.
Along with Salida’s community leaders and educators, Colorado Mountain College staff are now hard at work developing and expanding academic programs and course offerings for the Salida area.
In August 2018, the Salida School District (SSD) approached Colorado Mountain College (CMC) to inquire about annexation into the CMC district. As part of the college’s service area for the past 50 years, Salida has received limited educational services as set out in state law. Joining the CMC district with the associated property tax mill levy would increase CMC services to the community at one of the state’s most affordable tuition rates – and make Salida a true college town.
Since the school district approached the college in 2018, the community, the SSD and CMC have engaged in a community-wide conversation regarding growth, workforce development needs, community education options and the opportunities that might open up to the community if voters approve the annexation.
A CMC Feasibility Study outlined what the financial, programming and partnership structure would look like if the Salida and Poncha Springs communities joined the CMC district. The CMC Board of Trustees voted to accept this study because it saw Salida as a viable community for annexation.
On August 13, the Salida School District voted to place an annexation measure on November’s ballot. With the passage of this measure, the Salida School District is now part of the Colorado Mountain College district.
The ballot measure read:
Shall the property within the boundaries of Salida School District Number R32J be included in the boundaries of the Colorado Mountain College District, and in so doing expand the availability of low cost college degrees and certificates; continuing education and lifelong learning; tuition-free concurrent enrollment for high school students; and skilled trades and industry-specific training, on behalf of the residents of the Salida School District Number R32J?
At the August 28 meeting of the CMC Board of Trustees, the board also voted to place an annexation measure on November’s ballot inviting the Salida School District into the CMC tax district. This question appeared on ballots in the existing CMC district. It read:
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 R32J?
HOW ANNEXATION WORKS
Colorado Mountain College was founded in 1965 and started offering classes in 1967. The original charter included a provision for communities – as defined by K-12 school district boundaries – to annex into the college district. Therefore CMC comprises a collection of school districts across 12,000 square miles.
By state law, annexation required approval of voters of both SSD and the existing CMC district. Now that voters approved annexation, property owners’ tax bills include a new 3.997 mill levy to pay for CMC services.
In addition to enjoying the same, highly affordable tuition rate that others in the district enjoy, Salida School District residents can access increased programming that reflects the needs of the community, its students, its school district and its businesses and employers.
THE CMC BUSINESS MODEL
Colorado Mountain College, a unique local district college, is primarily funded through local property taxes, much like a school district. This community support makes it possible for CMC to run courses with smaller class sizes, offer enriching lifelong learning classes to local residents, and offer programs that otherwise might be costly to deliver. Larger colleges and universities in the state’s more urban areas rely on large numbers of students to fund their tuition-based business model.
In order to run a college in rural mountain areas, where populations are smaller and therefore enrollments lower, CMC’s business model helps it respond to community needs first and foremost.
Colorado Mountain College is governed by a locally elected board of trustees, from represented school districts. That means residents of SSD will vote in future CMC Board of Trustee elections.
CMC is proud of its service to students and to the district communities. Please see the CMC Facts Page for more data regarding CMC demographics, class sizes, enrollment, performance metrics and labor market outcomes.
This web page is intended to provide factual background information to those in Salida and Poncha Springs, as well as to those within the existing CMC district.