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 Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2011 
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Feature

CNM Governing Board

By Christie Chisholm
Education Election Guide

UNM Regents get all the attention. You rarely hear about the CNM Governing Board, even though the school now has more undergraduates than any other higher education institution in the state. Seven elected members sit on the board for four-year terms and represent districts from Bernalillo and Sandoval Counties. They determine all policies that govern the large college. This year, Districts 2 (Southeast and Northeast Heights), 4 (South Valley and Southeast Heights) and 6 (near Northeast Heights, North Valley and Corrales) are on the ballot.

CNM is getting a lot of attention due to Gov. Susana Martinez’ proposed budget cuts to the school, which if passed would ax 17.7 percent from its state funding. This at a time when CNM is experiencing a 20 percent increase in students over the last couple of years.

Two of the Governing Board candidates are incumbents running unopposed for re-election: John Mondragón in District 2 and Penny Holbrook in District 6. In District 4, incumbent Carmie Lynn Toulouse is battling with challenger Mark Armijo for the seat. The Alibi spoke with all of the candidates about the future of CNM.

Also on the Ballot

CNM Bond Issue

This bond would not raise taxes. But it would provide renovations to buildings, energy-efficient upgrades and updated tech, among other things. See a full list and explanation at: cnm.edu/2011localbond.

Here’s the exact wording on your ballot:

“Shall the Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) issue its general obligation bonds, in one series or more, in an aggregate principal amount not exceeding $70,000,000 for the purpose of erecting, furnishing, constructing, purchasing, remodeling and equipping buildings and utility facilities and making other real property improvements or purchasing grounds throughout the CNM District?”

John Mondragón

John Mondragón

District 2

Occupation: Education consultant, part-time professor at New Mexico Highlands University, professor emeritus at the University of New Mexico

Qualifications: Taught English-as-a-second-language courses at CNM in the ’70s; worked in APS as a teacher, principal and deputy superintendent, along with other positions; served on the CNM Governing Board since 2007, acting as its secretary for the last two years

Why he’s running

“I’m dedicated to it. I bring a lot of experience to it. I understand the business of education.”

On budget cuts

If they come to pass, CNM has to try to protect the staff and the faculty, and he hopes the cuts aren’t as severe as Martinez’ proposal. If necessary, programs will have to be consolidated, but faculty salaries and positions should be addressed last.

On CNM’s record enrollment

“To this point, we’ve been able to handle it even though we’ve had to reduce the budget for the last three years.” One way the school’s accomplished that is by freezing salaries. Mondragón doesn’t believe capping enrollment is an option. “There’s a need in the community. We have a responsibility to provide that service.”

On the biggest problem facing CNM

“The budget is the big one. We’re trying to provide as much service as we possibly can to all of these students. ... We need to continue the balance of career and vocational education and the academic courses.”

Mark Armijo

Mark Armijo

District 4

Occupation: Programmer analyst in the IT department at the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority

Qualifications: Served on Nuestros Valores Charter School’s Governance Board for 10 years, currently its president

Why he’s running

“I think I can do the job and make a difference.”

On budget cuts

“I can’t say exactly what needs to be cut. They need to look at consolidating programs, a reduction in personnel primarily through attrition. They have to be creative with finances to minimize the impact on classrooms and students.”

On CNM’s record enrollment

The school needs to make sure the necessary programs and facilities are in place to deal with the large number of students. As examples: having enough parking spaces and keeping classroom sizes small enough to be able to compete with the University of New Mexico. “They may have to look at capping enrollment if they don’t have the facilities or faculty and staff to handle the enrollment.”

On the biggest problem facing CNM

“From what I can see, the budget is the biggest problem,” and student achievement and graduation rates are other large issues to be addressed. Programs that are working should be expanded, such as dual-credit classes available to high school students.

Carmie Lynn Toulouse

Carmie Lynn Toulouse

District 4

Occupation: Retired bureau chief from the New Mexico Human Services Department

Qualifications: On the CNM Governing Board since 1999; also on the Association of Community College Trustees Board of Directors

Why she’s running

“Because there’s some things I still want to get done for the Southern side of Albuquerque, which I represent.”

On budget cuts

“At this point, it’s up to the executives to decide.” If necessary, the school will be forced to lay people off, increase class sizes and/or limit enrollment, which would be a huge change for the open-enrollment institution. “We’ve already done a lot of administrative tightening,” and the essentials are really the only things left to cut.

On CNM’s record enrollment

One way the school has dealt with a large influx of students is with part-time faculty. “Right now, we think we have a breather because spring enrollment has leveled off. It gives us time to review if we need more full-time instructors, which is a much more rigorous interviewing process.”

On the biggest problem facing CNM

“It’s the very rapid increase in students,” coupled with a 13 percent funding decrease from the state. “People need to understand that CNM is one of the real jewels of education in New Mexico.”

Penny Holbrook

Penny Holbrook

District 6

Occupation: Retired director of Community Connections, Inc.

Qualifications: Served on the CNM Governing Board since 1999, served the last two years as vice chair

Why she’s running

“Because I am so deeply involved with CNM, and I care about it so much, and because this is a time when we are under so much pressure with finances being the way they are and our school growing so rapidly, I want to make sure I have a hand in making sure it goes well.”

On budget cuts

Holbrook calls CNM President Katharine Winograd a “genius at working with the budget,” but she’s not sure there are any more places to cut. “We’re doing everything we can to avoid cutting wages or making people take furloughs. We’re already working hard to see where we can be creative and find where we can merge things and cut costs without severely wounding any programs.”

On CNM’s record enrollment

The student base has grown so quickly, CNM has had to hire 200 more faculty members in the last two years. The biggest challenge as a result of the influx is students “getting lost in the crowd,” which is why the school announced CNM Connect. The program, expected to launch by the end of the year, is intended to create a center on every campus where students can go to have all their questions—about classes, careers, financial aid, etc.—answered.

On the biggest problem facing CNM

“Making sure that students get on the right path academically and know where they’re going and why.”

By Christie Chisholm
 
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