College puts ESL fees on hold |

College puts ESL fees on hold

Julie Sutor

ASPEN – Students learning English in Colorado’s mountain communities won’t have to open up their wallets in order to open up their textbooks – for the time being, at least.The Colorado Mountain College board of trustees has voted unanimously to hold off on charging for English-as-a-second-language classes. Instruction will remain free, pending further analysis.”When we started this program, I don’t think anyone in western Colorado could have foreseen the changes in the populations of our communities,” said board chair Doris Dewton. “And as a community college, our core mission is to meet the needs of our entire community.”The board’s vote supersedes an earlier decision by the college administration to begin charging for English-as-a-second-language classes, beginning in the spring semester of 2006. The community college’s council – made up of all seven campus deans and senior college administrators – voted in May to start charging students, citing concerns over program cost and student attendance.Since the May vote, several committees have begun to study the fee idea along with sources for financial aid and other potential implications of charging tuition.According to the terms of the college’s grant that helps fund basic adult education like English-as-a-second-language courses, any fee charged must be reasonable and students must not be denied access. To keep access available for anyone seeking instruction, the college has offered such classes free of charge. “I believe we need to extend these people a helping hand to get started in our community,” said Dick Bateman, the board member for Summit County. “It’s to the betterment of our community to get people to a point where they can speak English and better participate in our community and our society in general.”Bateman said the college’s English-as-a-second-language classes serve a wide spectrum of students, from those who already have college educations in their native languages to those who are not literate at all in any language. Vail, Colorado

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