It has only been a week since voters approved the Salida School District being annexed into the Colorado Mountain College district, and CMC Vice President Rachel Pokrandt is already deeply engaged in the work that needs to be done to put programs, staff and services in place to add value to the community.

“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,” Pokrandt said.

“We have a roadmap for the future, projecting into the next five years,” she said. Last spring, the college and Salida School District completed the Salida Annexation Feasibility Study, which provides a detailed overview outlining financials, academics, demographics, and political and community support for establishing a CMC campus in the Salida area. To see the feasibility study and more information go to

Immediate plans

Now that the election has been completed, Colorado Mountain College can implement plans to bring more educational opportunities to the area.

On Wednesday, Nov. 6, the college began completing the internal work of adding a new location to the district operations. “There is a lot of background work that needs to be done to ensure smooth operations for students,” said Pokrandt. 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.

The first order of business on the ground in Salida is to apply to the Colorado Board of Nursing for a program in partnership with the Heart of the Rockies Medical Center. “This is a lengthy, one- to two-year project so we want to get started right away,” she said.

In addition, she said, thousands of dollars will be saved by the 56 students who are currently enrolled at CMC who have R-32-J addresses. Those are dollars that can now be spent on goods and services in Salida and Poncha Springs.

In January, the campus will form a CMC advisory committee specifically for the Salida and Poncha Springs area. The committee will provide a forum for community members to share ideas, express workforce and educational needs, and help guide the development of the campus and activities. Every CMC district campus has an advisory board and they act as champions and leaders for CMC in the community.

In spring 2020 Pokrandt will be working on building out the staffing by hiring several positions that will support academic, community and workforce programming as well as adjunct and full-time faculty. Pokrandt also said the college is looking to offer new community education classes in the spring, and planning has already begun to expand concurrent enrollment opportunities at the high school and full degree program offerings in fall semester 2020.

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