Forty years ago, the communities of Delta and Montrose came together to establish a community college to expand educational opportunities for the secondary students in their high schools, as well as provide training for adults seeking to develop job skills.
Today, the Technical College of the Rockies (TCR) is operated solely by Delta County Joint School District #50. The college offers eight programs of focus in a service area that encompasses six counties, 28 incorporated towns and 10,000 square miles. TCR continues to evolve to meet the needs of a changing workforce. Most recently, the college unveiled a new logo to complement its new name, which is intended to enhance the college's reputation and its geographic distinctiveness.
The new logo is the result of a contest that was won by Chris Shima, a teacher in Ridgway who worked with his students to modify the design to meet the needs of the school.
In addition to the new logo, the rebranding effort included cosmetic improvements to the student center, where new handicap-accessible restrooms were proudly pointed out.
State senators and representatives invited to Delta County for the school district's third annual legislative visit had an opportunity to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the college's new name, then tour the school. Klouser and lobbyist Ed Bowditch educated the legislators about declining state funding for career and technical education. In 1971, state funding covered 58 percent of the cost of courses at the tech college; that level has dropped to 25 percent.
Career and technical training is comprised of one-third classroom theory and two-thirds practical experience, Klouser explained. To be able to provide hands-on training, the school must provide the right equipment, from diagnostic tools in the automotive department to active shooter simulators in the law enforcement academy. While the cost of instruction can be high, TCR strives to remain competitive. The college boasts the lowest tuition rates of all postsecondary institutions in Colorado.
With the high cost of a four-year degree, many students are finding they can earn comparable wages with training in one of the skilled areas that's in great demand. Klouser and his administrative team are excited about the opportunity to expand course offerings throughout TCR's service area, as well as the ENGAGE Center that will occupy the old City Market building in downtown Delta.
Programs under consideration include culinary arts, diesel mechanics and HVAC certification.