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Feria de carreras de la secundaria del condado de Garfield pasa a manos de Youthentity

Los estudiantes observan los especímenes presentados por la mesa Vet Tech de Colorado Mountain College en la GlenX Career Expo en Glenwood Springs High School en marzo de 2019.| Chelsea Self/Post Independent archivo
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Una popular feria de carreras de primavera y otoño que ha invitado a estudiantes de secundaria de todo el valle de Roaring Fork y el noroeste de Colorado a aprender sobre posibles carreras profesionales cambiará de manos esta primavera.

GlenX Career Expo fue iniciada por el fundador de GlenX, Altai Chuluun, hace siete años y ha continuado durante los últimos cinco años bajo la dirección de Jayne Poss.

El evento ha expuesto a miles de estudiantes de una región que se extiende desde Aspen hasta Meeker a una multitud de posibilidades profesionales, en el evento de la escuela secundaria de Glenwood Springs en la primavera y en el recinto ferial del condado de Garfield en el otoño.

Sin embargo, a partir del evento en GSHS del 21 de marzo, la Career Expo, que funciona como una red, estará bajo la dirección de Youthentity, una organización sin fines de lucro de desarrollo juvenil con sede en Carbondale.

“Juntos convertimos GlenX Career Expo en una experiencia impactante y una oportunidad para los estudiantes de secundaria de nuestro valle,” dijo Poss en un comunicado de prensa refiriéndose a sus esfuerzos y los de Chaluun.

Chaluun agregó: “La misión de GlenX Career Expo es construir una comunidad más fuerte y vibrante que conecta a los estudiantes con recursos que estimularán su conocimiento de las oportunidades y les permitirán cumplir con sus aspiraciones profesionales para un futuro exitoso.”

Al pasar la antorcha, él y Poss dijeron que ambos sentían que Youthentity, como líder comunitario que brinda oportunidades para la exploración y el desarrollo de carreras a estudiantes de secundaria a través de sus programas de educación financiera y Career Academy, encajaba perfectamente.

“Estamos entusiasmados de ampliar la visión de Jayne y Altai de Career Expo,” dijo Greg Beachey, director del programa de la Academia de Carreras de Youthentity. “Nuestro plan es continuar con los excelentes programas que han construido y agregar nuevos elementos a eventos futuros.”

Beachey dijo que esperan incluir más funciones prácticas e interactivas en las exposiciones, y están trabajando para desarrollar un sitio web de búsqueda al que los estudiantes puedan acceder durante todo el año para explorar trayectorias profesionales.

“Los estudiantes pueden explorar algunas carreras posibles de antemano y planificar mejor el tiempo mientras están en la exposición,” dijo Beachey en una entrevista separada. “De esta manera, puede haber un tiempo de preparación más dirigido para los estudiantes antes de que vengan.”

El sitio web permitiría a los estudiantes realizar una evaluación de la personalidad laboral y crear un perfil profesional que pueda ayudarlos a orientarlos hacia algunas posibilidades una vez que estén en la exposición, dijo.

“Podrían encontrar algunas carreras profesionales que ni siquiera conocían,” dijo.

En las exposiciones, los estudiantes también pueden esperar no solo hablar con profesionales de la industria, sino también experimentar elementos prácticos de esas carreras, dijo Beachey.

Una aplicación móvil coordinada ayudará a los estudiantes a navegar fácilmente por la exposición, conectarse con negocios que coincidan con sus intereses e intercambiar información de contacto con posibles empleadores, también explicó.

“Esto realmente encaja bien con lo que ya hacemos,” agregó Beachey. “Youthentity trata de preparar a los estudiantes para el próximo paso en la vida, por lo que esta es una dirección natural para nosotros.

“Jayne y Altai han construido algo que es bastante sorprendente, y nos sentimos honrados de que pensaran en nosotros y estén ansiosos por expandirlo.”

Chuluun lanzó el primer evento en el 2015 en Glenwood Springs High School basado en el concepto de que los estudiantes de secundaria necesitaban una mayor exposición a carreras viables, ya sea que implicara la universidad, una escuela de oficios, capacitación técnica o certificación industrial, además de pasantías y oportunidades de aprendizaje.

“Después de dos años de organizar el evento, Chuluun encontró una mente similar en Jayne Poss, que trabajaba en Aspen Community Foundation en ese momento,” de acuerdo con el comunicado de Youthentity.

Además de exponer a los estudiantes a una variedad de opciones profesionales más amplias, sintió que era una oportunidad para que las empresas del valle compartieran lo que tienen para ofrecer localmente.

Las exposiciones comenzaron en Roaring Fork Valley y se expandieron para incluir Rifle, y eventualmente crecieron para llegar a más de 2.500 estudiantes de secundaria anualmente.

La exposición de Glenwood invita a estudiantes de todo el valle de Roaring Fork, mientras que el evento Rifle atiende a escuelas dentro de Garfield Re-2 y el Distrito 16, incluida Liberty Classical Academy, así como DeBeque y Meeker.

El programa Career Academy de Youthentity ofrece a los estudiantes del área la oportunidad de aprender sobre trayectorias profesionales en industrias como la hospitalidad, el cuidado de la salud, los servicios para animales y la industria de la construcción, incluidas las populares competencias culinarias ProStart para las cuales patrocina un equipo. Para obtener más información sobre las próximas ferias de carreras de Youthentity, comuníquese con Beachey en greg@youthentity.org, y para obtener más información sobre Youthentity, visite Youthentity.org.

Traducción por Edgar Barrantes. Puedes contactar a John Stroud, Editor Gerente Interino y Reportero Sénior del Post Independent, en jstroud@postindependent.com o al 970-384-9160.

CMC Spring Valley and Glenwood Springs campus leader Heather Exby to retire

After eight years serving the students, faculty and staff at Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley campus and Glenwood Center, Vice President and Dean Heather Exby is retiring from CMC at the end of the spring semester, the college announced Thursday.

“The Spring Valley campus has undergone a major physical transformation, thanks in large part to Heather’s leadership and the $5 million Promise of Spring Valley capital campaign that she so passionately championed,” CMC President and CEO Carrie Besnette Hauser said in a news release. “We are profoundly grateful for all that Heather has done for our students and mountain communities both at this campus and the Glenwood Center.”

Under Exby’s leadership, CMC’s Spring Valley campus constructed the J. Robert Young Alpine Ascent Center, the Outdoor Leadership Center & Field House, renovated the Sopris Residence Hall and the Paul & Shirley Bushong Student Center, constructed a new system of mountain bike trails on campus, and partnered with Holy Cross Energy to build a massive solar array and battery storage complex on campus.

Meanwhile, CMC’s Glenwood Center, located on Blake Avenue, remains a hub for community programs and nonprofit organizations including the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, high school equivalency programs and the Children’s Mini College.

CMC biology professor and CMC Faculty Senate President Kim Harding said Exby’s contributions extend far beyond just new construction on campus.

“These physical creations are only a partial reflection of Dr. Exby’s willingness to embrace new challenges and opportunities, always seeking for the betterment of our students, communities and those of us lucky enough to work under her guidance,” Harding said in the release. “When I think of her leadership, I am most struck by the level of care and engagement she provided for the myriad of activities that manifest in relation to leading a campus. She provided us with a beautiful example, and we will miss her guidance.”

Exby has worked for CMC in various roles for a total of 17 years, starting in 1986 as an admissions technician before leaving for graduate school at Harvard. She was hired as vice president and dean of the Glenwood Springs locations in 2015.

“I’ve been so fortunate to have been the kind of leader I always wanted to be and build a team that has grown and stepped up to every single challenge that has been laid before them,” Exby said. “I really care about the people I’ve worked with and about creating a learning environment for our students that is as personal and accepting as possible.”

Exby said that some of her favorite days of the year are during commencement ceremonies when she congratulates the students she’s gotten to know on campus as they receive their degrees.

“I love seeing their faces when they cross the stage, along with the faces of the faculty and staff who celebrate right alongside them,” Exby said. “I’m so proud of our students and the CMC community for helping each one of them succeed.”

Exby will stand on stage once more for spring commencement in May before she retires at the end of spring semester. CMC faculty and staff will conduct a national search for the campus’s next leader.

Garfield County high school career expos switching hands to Youthentity

A popular spring and fall career expo that has invited high school students from across the Roaring Fork Valley and northwestern Colorado to learn about possible career paths is changing hands this spring.

The GlenX Career Expo was begun by GlenX founder Altai Chuluun seven years ago and has continued for the past five years under the direction of Jayne Poss.

The event has exposed thousands of students from a region stretching from Aspen to Meeker to a multitude of career possibilities, at the Glenwood Springs High School event in the spring, and at the Garfield County Fairgrounds in the fall. 

Starting with the GSHS event on March 21, however, the networking-style Career Expo will be under the direction of the Carbondale-based youth development nonprofit Youthentity. 

“Together we built the GlenX Career Expo into an impactful experience and opportunity for our valley’s high school students,” Poss said in a news release referring to hers and Chaluun’s efforts.

Added Chaluun, “The mission of the GlenX Career Expo is to build a stronger, more vibrant community by connecting students to resources that will stimulate their awareness of opportunities and enable them to fulfill their career aspirations for successful futures.”

In passing the torch, he and Poss said they both felt that Youthentity, as a community leader in providing opportunities for career exploration and career development to high school students through its financial literacy and Career Academy programs, was the perfect fit. 

“We are excited to expand on Jayne and Altai’s vision of the Career Expo,” said Greg Beachey, Youthentity Career Academy Program Director. “Our plan is to continue the excellent programs they have built, and to add new elements to future events.”

Beachey said they hope to include more hands-on, interactive features at the expos, and are working to develop a searchable website that students can access year-round to explore career paths.

“Students can explore some possible careers beforehand and better plan for the time while they are at the expo itself,” Beachey said in a separate interview. “This way there can be more directed student preparation time before they come.”

The website would allow students to take a work personality assessment and build a career profile that can help direct them to some possibilities once they’re at the expo, he said.

“They might find some career paths that they didn’t even know about,” he said. 

At the expos, students can also look forward to not only speaking with industry professionals, but also to experiencing hands-on elements of those careers, Beachey said.

A coordinating mobile app will help students easily navigate the expo, connect with businesses that match their interests, and exchange contact info with potential employers, he also explained.

“This really fits well with what we do already,” Beachey added. “Youthentity is about preparing students for that next step in life, and so this is a natural step for us to take. 

“Jayne and Altai have built something that’s pretty amazing, and we were honored that they thought of us and are looking forward to expanding on that.”

Chuluun launched the first event in 2015 at Glenwood Springs High School on the concept that high school students needed greater exposure to viable careers, whether that involves college, a trade school, technical training or industry certification, plus internship and apprenticeship opportunities.

“After two years of running the event, Chuluun found a like mind in Jayne Poss, who was working at Aspen Community Foundation at the time,” the Youthentity release states. 

In addition to exposing students to a variety of broader career choices, she felt it was a chance for valley businesses to share what they have to offer locally. 

The expos began in the Roaring Fork Valley and expanded to include Rifle, eventually growing to reach more than 2,500 high school students annually.

The Glenwood expo invites students from throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, while the Rifle event caters to schools within Garfield Re-2 and District 16, including Liberty Classical Academy, as well as DeBeque and Meeker.  

Youthentity’s Career Academy program offers area students the chance to learn about career paths in industries such as hospitality, health care, animal services and the building industry, including the popular ProStart culinary competitions for which it sponsors a team. For more information about the upcoming Youthentity Career Expos, contact Beachey at greg@youthentity.org, and for more information about Youthentity, visit Youthentity.org.

Post Independent interim Managing Editor and senior reporter John Stroud can be reached at jstroud@postindependent.com or at 970-384-9160.

Tuition rates at Colorado Mountain College are increasing

Colorado Mountain College is increasing tuition, but only slightly, a Thursday news release states

The Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees unanimously voted to increase tuition for in-district and in-state by $5 per credit hour, and non-resident tuition by $30.

Every January, the board reviews their prices on everything from tuition to room and board rates and adopts recommendations for the next fiscal year, the release states.

This decision was made at the regularly scheduled meeting at CMC’s Vail Valley at Edwards campus on Jan. 24. 

Beginning in the fall 2023 semester, students should expect to see rates increase from $95 to $100 per credit hour for in-district rates, $195 to $200 for in-state and $480 to $510 for non-resident. 

With these increases, CMC leaders still expect that the college will continue to have some of the most affordable tuition and fees in the state and the nation, the release states.. 

The board also voted unanimously to increase the food service rates by $200 per semester at Spring Valley at Glenwood Springs, along with Leadville and Steamboat Springs due to food cost increases.

On a lighter note, there was a unanimous vote to approve a contract to purchase a property for employee housing in Glenwood Springs, for the relief of local students.

All votes were approved unanimously during this meeting, including an approval to increase rates for the actions sports industry, construction trades and healthcare classes. 

And although room rates for double-occupancy rooms were not increased, single occupancy rooms went up by $400 per semester. 

The board also approved an adjustment to a contract for construction of a teaching kitchen at the CMC Aspen campus, a contract to purchase equipment for the future dental hygiene program in Edwards and the second quarter financials for 2022-2023, the release states.

Funding, teacher retention, and safety biggest issues Colorado educators aim to fix, according to statewide report

A state of education report released by the Colorado Education Association, which is the state’s largest teachers union, revealed challenges and concerns facing today’s educators. The biggest issues addressed were funding, teacher shortages, and safety.

Public schools can’t operate without funding, and, although Coloradans pride themselves on being progressive and championing inclusion and the public good, CEA President Amie Baca-Oehlert said the state’s budget tells a different story when it comes to education.

“We live every single day as educators with an understanding of how budgets oftentimes are not reflecting the values that are expressed by so many who say they support public education,” she said.

Colorado educators make 35.9% less than a comparable educated professional, according to the report. Brooke Williams, Jefferson County education association president, said they have seen many educators leave the profession, which causes an increased workload for the remaining educators.

“We really want to see an investment in our educators, so that we can support our students and give them the education that they deserve and attract and retain our educators,” she said.

Both physical and mental safety were addressed in the report, as well. According to Baca-Ohlert, the three most often cited factors harming the well being of students and educators are lack of mental-health support, lack of LGBTQ+ acceptance and inclusion, and preponderance of access to firearms.

Kacey Ellis, president of the Cherry Creek Education Association and a middle-school teacher, said they recently had 14 teachers complete mental-health and first-aid training through the state. The goal of the training was to aid in identifying educators who may be struggling and help them to access mental-health strategies.

“We are caretakers, and we want to take care of our students, and we neglect to take care of ourselves; and, oftentimes, we hit a crisis point we don’t realize (that) we’re there,” said Ellis. “This training really helped myself and the other 13 people who trained with me to see early symptoms and maybe be able to intervene early.”

According to Baca-Ohlert, 85% of LGBTQ+ educators are not out at school or in the workplace.

“Though our focus is on educators, it’s important to understand that these statistics on how welcome or unwelcome our LGBTQ+ educators feel at their schools provides a mirror for how our LGBTQ-plus students feel at their schools, as well,” she said.

Dave Lockley, president of the District 12 Educators Association and an Adams 12 school district social-studies teacher, said many staff are not comfortable coming out because of the lack of systems and structures in place to support staff and build an inclusive environment.

The release of the report also revealed that 67% of educators are “very” or “somewhat worried” about a mass shooting at their school. Of the educators surveyed, 69% said that they would not feel safer if they were allowed to carry a gun.

“The vast majority answered that educators would like their schools to prioritize more mental-health supports, as opposed to hardening the school situation,” said Kevin Vick, vice president of CEA and a social-studies teacher in the Colorado Springs area.

Although progress has been made over the years, Baca-Ohlert said there is still a lot of work to be done.

Rep. Meghan Lukens, a Democrat from Steamboat Springs, is co-sponsoring a bill that would streamline the process to make Colorado teacher licensing more efficient for educators coming from out of state.

“We can come together as Coloradans, as policymakers to do better for the students and educators of Colorado. And, that is where we look to setting forth our legislative priorities on the things that we can do to change these statistics around and to ensure that all our students and educators have the schools that they deserve,” she said.

To reach Audrey Ryan, email her at aryan@aspentimes.com.

Superintendent’s Corner: 100+ days in, a look at some accomplishments and next steps

At the time of this publication, I have been the proud superintendent of the Roaring Fork Schools for 134 days. It is hard to believe that next week I will celebrate my seven-month anniversary! As I near this milestone, I want to share with our community some of what I’ve learned during my tenure as superintendent and what I recommend as next steps for our district.

Last spring, during my visit to the Roaring Fork Valley as a candidate, I spoke with stakeholders about context-sensitive design. It is the decision-making process used to construct the highway through Glenwood Canyon that allowed stakeholders to engage in the design process by sharing what natural beauty had to be preserved if a highway was to be constructed through the canyon. Not to mention, building a highway through a canyon was once deemed impossible, so preserving the natural beauty would also require creativity and innovation in engineering.

It seemed appropriate and serendipitous to me that I would adopt a similar approach to my work this year, as superintendent, if selected.

As a candidate, I created a 100-day entry plan. Succinctly, my entry plan was, and remains, to: listen and learn about what we must preserve, where we must innovate, and to create a long-term plan that is community-informed to fulfill our mission. I have had the opportunity to hear from staff, parents, students, and community members in a variety of ways and there have been some emerging themes–both in what we must keep but also, where we must try new things.

In my entry plan, I shared my personal beliefs and core values, which are central to who I am as a person and as a leader. Since becoming superintendent, I’ve had the opportunity to formally share these with our community but also, my hope is that I have been able to demonstrate these through my actions and throughout my interactions with staff, students, parents, and community members at large.

Beliefs and core values

The following are the five goals that I set out to achieve this year:

1. Nourish a trusting, productive, and collaborative relationship with our Board of Directors.

2. Ensure a strong transition in leadership with a focus on accelerating achievement.

3. Implement listening and learning sessions in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

4. Learn about the values, norms, expectations, and culture of our three municipalities and district at large.

5. Focus on narrowing differences in achievement between student subgroups and increasing the achievement of all students.

I am proud to say that I have mostly succeeded in accomplishing the expectations and goals outlined in my entry plan. Some of the key actions that I have taken toward those goals have been:

  • Conducting small group meetings with staff vía appreciation lunches
  • Reviewing the current strategic plan and general overview of its implementation
  • Conducting 1:1s with identified key stakeholders and organizations
  • Analyzing 2021-22 academic achievement and growth data
  • Visiting every school in each community multiple times
  • Hosting community forums for parents and community members through coffee chats
  • Learning and evaluating how our current organizational structure supports the vision of our district
  • Starting instructional rounds with instructional team and campus leaders

Based on these actions and from listening to, and learning from, our community, I am recommending the following next steps for our district to our Board of Education:

  • Launch strategic planning process this spring by co-constructing a district-wide Portrait of a Graduate & District Core Values, then engaging in a more extensive strategic planning process this fall;
  • Continue our focus on policy updates, such as our graduation requirements, because as superintendent, one of my key responsibilities is to carry out policy through the development and implementation of regulations;
  • Adopt our recommended Learning Acceleration Plan that will strategically support teachers and school leaders in narrowing the difference in achievement between students and elevating the achievement of all;
  • Prioritize housing solutions for current and future staff so that we can attract and retain our talented educators
  • Identify our instructional priorities for 2023-24 to help guide our Unified Improvement Plan process for 2023-24, including informing our strategic priorities and initiatives.

Each of these recommendations come from carefully listening and learning to our community — from our community’s many anecdotes that support these recommendations for next steps.

I will present these recommendations to our Board of Education at our next Wednesday board meeting. Additionally, our Chief Academic Officer will be presenting our Learning Acceleration Plan, which the Board will take action on, at an upcoming board meeting.

Even though the days of my entry plan as superintendent have come to an end, I remain committed to listening and learning to our community and I look forward to implementing these recommended next steps with you in order to fulfill our mission that we will ensure every student develops the enduring knowledge, skills, and character to thrive in a changing world.

Dr. Jesús Rodríguez is Superintendent of the Roaring Fork District schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

PHOTOS: This Carbondale school has its very own winter wonderland to promote physical activity

Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale has its very own winter play park, complete with a mini ice rink and cross country ski tracks. The facilities are regularly used during the colder months for physical education classes, under the watch of longtime CRES P.E. teacher Marty Madsen.

A combination of parent donations and other fundraising allowed the ice rink to be built four years ago. Continued fundraising goes toward maintenance of the facility, as well as ice skates and skis. Cross country skiing has been part of the P.E. program at CRES for more than 15 years.

Crystal River Elementary School fourth graders Tatum Rice, left, and Celeste Revilla Serrano look to corral the puck in the corner of the CRES ice rink on Monday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
A group of Crystal River Elementary School third graders carry their skis to the baseball field on Tuesday where the school cross country ski course is set.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School fourth graders Siena Katzenberger, left, and Yoanna Garcia work on their ice skating form at the CRES rink on Monday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School third grader Fernando Chimal Medina takes off for a lap around the school’s cross country ski course on Tuesday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
A group of fourth grade students at Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale enjoy some outdoor physical fun on the school’s ice rink.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School third graders, from left, Kenya Rodriguez Hernandez, Victoria Miner and Carlos Garcia make tracks on the school’s cross country ski course Tuesday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School fourth graders, from left, Celeste Revilla Serrano, Liam Sisneros and Sammy Palomera-Dominguez jockey for the puck on the school ice rink Monday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School third grader Lili Baiardo sets out for a cross country ski lap on Tuesday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School physical education teacher Marty Madsen clears snow from the school ice rink during a class on Monday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School third grader Harbour Stephens makes tracks on the school’s cross country ski course on Tuesday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School third grader River Smith sets out for a cross country ski lap on Tuesday.
John Stroud/Post Independent

CMC Board of Trustees selected for national John W. Nason leadership award

The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges has selected the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees as one of five boards — one public college, two private universities and two public college or university foundations — nationally to receive its John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership

According to a news release, the AGB and presenting sponsor TIAA partner to present the Nason Award, established in 1992, to higher education governing boards across the country that demonstrate exceptional leadership and initiative.

“The nation is home to some 4,000 colleges and universities and nearly as many governing boards, and yet, there are few boards that deserve special recognition more for their courage, wisdom and foresight,” CMC president and CEO Carrie Besnette Hauser said in the release. “CMC is more relevant to and celebrated by its communities than ever before, in large part because the courageous and thoughtful individuals that comprise its elected governing board.”

Each recipient was recognized for its justice, diversity, equity and inclusion-related programs and initiatives as well as its efforts to enhance student success, the release states.

According to its nomination materials, the publicly elected CMC Board of Trustees received the award because of its significant commitment to actively address the needs of students and the region the college serves through multiple institutional initiatives. These include investing $45 million for affordable housing and leveraging this funding to expand four critical projects in high-cost mountain towns; expanding academic programming and technology for high-demand fields like nursing; and growing concurrent enrollment opportunities for high school students throughout CMC’s region.

The CMC board in recent years has also advocated for public policy changes, including modifications to the state’s constitution to strengthen CMC’s financial health and its support for underserved students.

The CMC Board of Trustees is one of five boards receiving this year’s Nason Award. Other recipients include the Holyoke Community College Foundation Board of Directors, the Texas Christian University Board of Trustees, the Utah State University Foundation Board of Directors and the Xavier University of Louisiana Board of Trustees.

The Nason Award is named for higher education leader John W. Nason, who served as the chair of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council and helped nearly 4,000 interned students continue their college studies across the nation during World War II.

Meal debt continues to grow at Garfield Re-2

Debt accrued from families not paying for student meals continues to grow for the Garfield Re-2 School District, an official said last week.

Numbers presented by Director of Nutrition Services Mary McPhee to school board members show meal debt service increased from about $24,578 on Oct. 25 to $35,511 on Jan. 11.

A big reason why meal debt continues to inflate is because district families who still qualify for free-and-reduced meals are simply not filling out their applications, McPhee said. 

Despite November’s vote to pass Proposition FF, which implements universal free meals in Colorado schools by the 2023-24 school year, Garfield Re-2 is still responsible for paying for the meal debt they accrue this year.

“Because even though this is going to start next school year, we still need to get free-and-reduced applications more than ever before,” McPhee said.

This growing debt is pushing the school board to consider using collections services or putting families on monthly payment plans to help cover outstanding bills. School Board Member Jason Shoup worried, if nothing’s done, the district could incur as much as $60,000 in meal debt by the end of the school year.

“Then we’ve got a really big elephant in the room,” he said.

“I’m 90% sure it’s the same families that are struggling, but how can we fix that?”

There are right now 980 district students who owe money for meals. Another 1,800 owe nothing, while 2,000 students at Garfield Re-2 are positive in their accounts. 

The district has also served 14,835 breakfasts, 53,879 lunches and another 19,186 faculty/guest meals since Oct. 25, McPhee’s numbers show. That’s 70,992 total meals in less than three months.

Amid all these served meals, McPhee said families aren’t filling out free-and-reduced applications because they might be uncertain of where the information goes or that they’re perhaps not meeting the thresholds to qualify.

“If you make $1 over you don’t qualify,” she said.

According to the application, a family household of four making less than $51,338 may qualify for free-and-reduced meals.

At one point in December, an anonymous “lunch angel” donated $2,675, which, at the time, completely wiped out the entire student meal debt at Elk Creek Elementary School in New Castle. By Jan. 11, that school’s meal debt grew back to $177.

McPhee said a focus group made up of members from the Colorado Department of Education, Colorado school district chief financial officers, social workers, nurses and more are currently developing recommendations on how at-risk funding will be paid to Colorado school districts.

Those recommendations are set to come out by the end of January. Online free and reduced applications, which are also in Spanish, can be found at https://www.garfieldre2.net/our_district/food_nutrition/free_and_reduced_lunch_info

Guest column: CMC is a college on a (dual) mission

If you live in or travel to Colorado’s high country, it’s likely that you routinely pass a Colorado
Mountain College campus. CMC plays an important role in educating and training students of all
backgrounds for jobs and careers in the central mountain region. It is also helping lead a national
conversation about making college more accessible, innovative and relevant to modern learners
and employers.

Founded nearly 60 years ago specifically to serve remote mountain towns without a college or
university nearby, CMC has always been responsive to regional needs. At its founding, long
before the internet and internationally accessible airports, this meant building campuses from the
ground up and training students to be typesetters and ranchers. Today, CMC specializes in the
needs of the modern tourism and outdoor-industry-based economies, educating students to
become first responders and nurses, experts in sustainability and digital media, ski area
operators, avalanche scientists, teachers, entrepreneurs and more.

In the post-pandemic world, CMC is focused on training the workforce of today and looking
ahead to meet the needs and interests of all learners, regardless of their station in life. CMC is
adaptable, teaching virtually and in-person, in blocks of time that better fit the needs of students
and employers. And while remaining highly affordable, the college is investing resources into
infrastructure that delivers high value to local economies, opportunities enabled by the college’s
unique role and purpose.

Under state law, CMC is officially Colorado’s only dual mission college or university and one of
an estimated 400 nationwide. Dual mission institutions most often serve rural communities and
are the only physical postsecondary option where they are located. They intentionally offer both
technical training and liberal arts programs and a mix of degree offerings aligned with local and
regional workforce needs. They are neither a so-called “two-year” or “four-year” college — they
are both.

CMC offers what its communities need and demand — just as it did on its first day of classes.
Today this is a blend of bachelor’s and associate degrees, specialized certificates, concurrent
enrollment classes for high school students, and continuing education and community courses.
CMC recently hosted the annual National Dual Mission Summit, drawing together an engaged
mix of delegates and presenters — including Gov. Polis and representatives from national
philanthropic and policy organizations, business and industry, and other dual mission institutions
— to discuss successes in innovations, common stumbling blocks and shared dreams for
revolutionizing higher education.

Importantly, while CMC and institutions like it are adapting quickly, it is challenging to turn a
giant ship. The Carnegie Classification System, for example, is a 50-year-old framework for
categorizing American colleges and universities. The Carnegie system organized colleges into
fairly generic buckets by the types of degrees they confer and the amount of research money
gathered and spent. In the ’70s, there was not a “bucket” for dual mission institutions (there still
isn’t). Consequently, colleges that strive to be nimble, innovative and a “both/and” not only have
to adapt their internal systems, but must push to reform external ones as well.

While much of these policy conflicts are rightly of minimal concern to the average person, the
misalignment between CMC’s internal goals and the realities of external systems illustrates why
the status quo often doesn’t work for rural communities. It didn’t work in 1965 when the college’s
founders blazed new educational trails in the high country, and it doesn’t work in the 21st century
with local economies that demand employees with specialized skills and adaptability.

Because of its unique funding and operating model, CMC is fortunate to be in a position to
effectively adapt to new challenges and accommodate new opportunities. Ever focused on
programs with strong demand and high wages in mountain towns, CMC recently added three
high-fidelity nursing simulation labs, is contemplating programs in oral health and radiology, and
launched bachelor’s degrees in human services and ecosystems science and stewardship to meet
explicit requests from area employers. And, later this year, the college will open new student
housing opportunities in Breckenridge, the Vail Valley, Glenwood Springs and Steamboat
Springs.

The realities of the modern higher education marketplace are exceedingly challenging and
require innovation, adaptation and courage. Thanks to a gutsy board of trustees and talented and
adventurous faculty and staff, CMC has continued to achieve success in spite of major changes
underway nationally. Together, we will boldly storm and non-conform with the same hopeful,
steadfast conviction that defines CMC’s past, present and future.

Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser is president & CEO of Colorado Mountain College. She can be
reached at president@coloradomtn.edu or @CMCPresident.