CMC might charge for ESL classes


Whether Colorado Mountain College will start charging for classes teaching English as a Second Language remains to be seen.

The CMC Board of Trustees unanimously decided at its Monday meeting that more studies and discussions were needed before such a decision could be made.

"We are seeking more comprehensive input," CMC board chairwoman Doris Dewton said.

In May, CMC's College Council, which includes deans and administrators from all CMC campuses, voted to charge for ESL courses starting next spring.

After the recent review by the CMC Board of Trustees, more information will be gathered and discussed at the board's November retreat. At that point or later, the board will decide whether such charges should be put in place.

If the CMC board decides to go forward with fees, they likely would not be put in place before fall 2006, CMC President Robert Spuhler said. Exactly how much could be charged for an ESL course is undetermined, but one value that has been considered is $24, Spuhler said.

The concept of charging for ESL classes has been discussed for three or four years, he said.

Currently, the classes are free and are funded through the college's general fund, as well as through grants for adult basic education, he said. Classes were free, in part, because federal grants used in the program forbid charging fees.

However, fees now are all--owed if they are reasonable and if no student is denied access, Spuhler said.

The college does not want to put financial obstacles or barriers in front of any student population, he said. But with a small fee, the college could put money back into the program to enhance it.

The college's budget is set up so that as more teachers and classes are needed, the college receives more funding to pay for those employees.

The extra funds would not pay for teachers, he said, but would help pay for supplies, textbooks, student support, tutoring and assistance for teachers.

Spuhler said that if fees were put in place, the college would provide financial assistance to students who could not pay for the program. Anyone who expresses interest in the program and talks with CMC staff should be able to participate.

However, he said, it would take careful communication to make sure the number of people interested in the program contacting CMC in the first place did not decrease because of incorrect or insufficient information about fees.

Spuhler said he was not surprised by the CMC board's decision and that there has been no rush to start charging for the program.

Rather, the college is committed to providing education and training for non-English speakers who are learning English.

"It's been a great program," Spuhler said. "The program has just continued to grow."

The ESL program at CMC's Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs serves about 150 students a year.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail


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