The staff of Ark Valley voice endorses the Salida School District Annexation question, that would bring the Salida School District into the boundaries of the Colorado Mountain College. We encourage our readers to educate themselves on the facts and vote in the Nov. 5 General Election.

Our decision to endorse has been made after listening to the community, reading the extensive amount of information provided by CMC, the Salida School District and by the group calling itself Friends of Salida Schools.

Colorado Mountain College Logo Photo courtesy of LinkedIn

The passage of the CMC ballot question represent a way forward for this valley to retain our high school graduates (the only demographic with a negative growth rate in the Arkansas River Valley), by offering post secondary education in a more comprehensive way.

A vote to add the Salida School District to CMC District boundaries is a vote to significantly lower the cost of student credit hours for Salida students. In fact, CMC is on record as offering the lowest cost Bachelor’s Degree in Colorado, with in-district tuition as low as $80 per credit hour.

A community’s support for higher education opportunity within its boundaries is a decision that other communities within the CMC service district say is a boon to their local economies. It attracts business, and in cases such as Salida where there is room to grow, that growth can be expected to be sustained over time.

In Salida, as in the rest of Chaffee County, not only is our area growing faster than the rest of the state, but the inflow of significant numbers of college-educated retirees to Chaffee County means a strong adjunct faculty pool, and extended interest in lifelong learning. Better and more cost-affordable access to higher education can help improve the economic disparity between median household income and median house value. Higher education is becoming more important to attain family-supporting positions and careers that allow families to stay in the valley.

As most of our readers know, when we launched, AVV went on record to say that it would not endorse individual candidates for office, and would only occasionally endorse specific ballot questions. In this case, our endorsement of the Salida School District Annexation question is not just an editorial decision. It is an endorsement made by the entire AVV crew of writers, tech support, copy editors, advertising dept. and support staff. The majority of us live and work within the Salida School District, and the rest within the Buena Vista School District.

We believe that access to education offers immediate and long-term opportunity for individuals, for young families, for those looking to shape new career paths, and for the businesses of Chaffee County. Education is the tide that raises all our boats.