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Community voices concerns over closing two CR sites

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EUREKA- Dwindling enrollment numbers and a tight budget is forcing College of the Redwoods to consider closing two of their instructional sites for the 2014-15 school year. The college's Board of Trustees met Tuesday afternoon to discuss the potential closure.

College of the Redwoods President and Superintendent Kathy Smith made a recommendation to the board that the school suspend instruction at the two sites, in Fort Bragg and Garberville for the upcoming school year. The recommendation is to deal with the increasing financial costs of the college and shrinking enrollment.

"We don't take this recommendation lightly. It was with a lot of thought and a lot of data collected," said Smith.

According to the staff report both schools have had low enrollment numbers and do not have enough students to support the services. "We're in a district wide fiscal crisis. We're trying to make the decisions that will keep the college alive," said Smith.

Smith is recommending that the college close the campuses down for the upcoming school year while the college look for alternatives, like increasing access to distance education, offering classes through dual enrollment programs and increase life-long learning classes.

"A suspension gives us time to get back, regroup and analyze what we need to do," said Smith.

Thirty members of the community sat in on the meeting Tuesday afternoon. Several attending traveled three hours from Fort Bragg in order to voice their concerns over the potential closures.

"Support the students on the Mendocino coast. Support them in any way you can," said Fort Bragg Mayor, Dave Turner.

Turner said the college gives community members in the area a chance to attend college if they can not afford to travel or move. Turner said he hoped the college would allow students who are currently enrolled to finish.

Laura Smith is a student at the Fort Bragg site and said she only had two classes left to finish her Associates Degree. "It's heartbreaking," said Smith.

College of the Redwoods plans to hold a meeting in the two communities impacted by the potential closure.