Higher education in Colorado gets boost | AspenTimes.com

Higher education in Colorado gets boost

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Standing before a giant hole in the ground that will soon be a new science center on the Auraria campus, Gov. Bill Ritter signed a bill Monday that will give higher education $200 million for one-time construction funding from a new law governing oil and gas revenue.

The governor said the bill also will provide money for 11 other college construction projects across the state.

“Higher education is about hope and promise and opportunity. That’s why we are here today. This hole in the ground is going to be filled with a world class building that will provide opportunities for thousands of students so they can achieve their full potential.

“This hole is a metaphor as well. When our state fell into a recession in the early part of this decade, progress was put on hold. Budgets were cut and building projects were canceled. To be sure, there is still much work to do, but we are making real progress. We’re getting higher education back on track. We are climbing out of the hole,” Ritter said as a giant crane hummed in the background.

State legislators stunned Auraria campus leaders earlier this year when they pulled $37.5 million in financing earmarked to help build a science building on the Auraria campus that had already broken ground. Lawmakers said there wasn’t enough money in the capital construction budget to finish the project.

University of Colorado president Bruce Benson said the current science building was so unsafe that pregnant women are advised not to take classes there because of fumes from science experiments.

Ritter also signed a bill that sets up a scholarship program for teachers in high-demand subjects, including math, science, special education and English language training.

“Scholarships for student-teachers are an effective way to address teacher shortages in high-demand areas such as math, science, special education and English Language Acquisition,” Ritter said.

Sen. Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, said the bill will increase the number of teachers in high-demand subjects.

Study after study shows us that high quality education starts with high quality teachers. Today we are removing barriers for prospective educators by offering incentives to complete their teaching degrees. This is a win for students, for teachers and for the future of Colorado,” Shaffer said.