Ken Brenner: Passage of 4B will protect public investment in CMC |

Ken Brenner: Passage of 4B will protect public investment in CMC

I serve you as one of your trustees, elected to protect Colorado Mountain College and the investment you have made in higher education in Northwest Colorado for the past 50 years.

The 1982 Gallagher Amendment, combined with Colorado's convoluted tax system and explosive growth on the Front Range, has again punished CMC and Western Slope local governments. This year's correction will take away approximately 6 percent of CMC's property tax revenues.

CMC's new leadership has been very prudent in responding to the revenue decreases experienced since the Great Recession with a thorough reorganization, implementing operational efficiencies and modestly increasing tuition. Ballot question 4B will allow the CMC trustees, after all cost-saving strategies have been thoroughly explored, the discretion to protect the historic funding levels for the college and address the state-mandated revenue decreases caused by the Gallagher Amendment.

Colorado Mountain College has just celebrated its golden anniversary of providing Northwest Colorado with associate degrees, professional certificates, GED, ESL, lifelong learning and specific training for the workforce in our mountain communities. During the last five years, the college has both developed and implemented four-year degree opportunities at CMC and increased emphasis on Concurrent Enrollment Program Act — CEPA — opportunities with our K-12 school districts.

Baccalaureate degrees in nursing, education, applied science, business and sustainability ensure a clear path forward for students in our district. Upon completion of a bachelor degree, students not only find jobs but often a professional career tailored to the needs of our mountain resort communities.

Last year, CMC was nationally recognized as the lowest cost for a baccalaureate degree in Colorado and third lowest in the nation.

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Also, CMC has championed CEPA programs — college curriculum, taught by college faculty, eligible for both high school and college credit — to assist district high school students earn college credit while still attending high school. The results have been amazing. No less than 1,200 high school students in our district have taken at least one CEPA class.

Each year ambitious students will complete an associate's degree, prior to their high school graduation and with limited expense to the family. For every parent concerned about the steadily increasing cost of higher education and the advantage it will provide for their children, CMC offers an excellent alternative for families in the district.

I ask your support for ballot question 4B.

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Ken Brenner

Colorado Mountain College board trustee, Routt County