Thanks to Colorado Mountain College writing a grant to support the Salida School District, Salida High School is receiving a $50,000 grant from the state of Colorado. The funds will allow the school to expand its concurrent enrollment program.

David Blackburn, Salida School District superintendent, said, “This grant will allow us to further integrate college and high school, as well as better support our teachers financially.”

The concurrent enrollment partnership between Salida High School and Colorado Mountain College gives students the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school. In concurrent enrollment courses, students can get a jump-start on their college education, at no or minimal cost to their families.

The cost and academic expectations of going off to college can seem daunting to many. Concurrent enrollment lessens those barriers and offers students a more familiar, accessible and friendly starting point. When students can take college courses taught by teachers they are already familiar with, the barriers can drop even more.

But to teach a college-level course, high school teachers need to also be credentialed to teach at that higher level. This grant will offer support for teachers to gain the higher education needed to teach for Colorado Mountain College, without having to take on extra debt.

“The Salida School District has amazing teachers who are dedicated and highly qualified in their field of study,” said Rachel Pokrandt, CMC vice president and campus dean for Leadville and Salida. “These grant funds will go directly to those educators to further invest in their career. This is just one of the ways that CMC and the Salida School District can partner to serve the whole community.”

Blackburn said that details are still in the works, but he is hopeful the funding for professional development to bring high school teachers to that college-teaching level will be available by summer.

“This offers greater efficiency with tax dollars,” said Blackburn. “Salida K-12 and Colorado Mountain College Salida are both collecting taxes. By credentialing our high school teachers to also teach college courses, we are paying one person to teach for both institutions.”

The opportunities this grant will bring to the community, the Salida School District and Colorado Mountain College are going to be far reaching, said Blackburn. “This is one more example of why bringing Colorado Mountain College into Salida was the right thing to do,” he said.