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Pueblo Community College Bayfield site to close this summer

Location terminated after just five years
Pueblo Community College Bayfield opened in 2019 in part to get Bayfield High School students dual-enrolled in college courses. (Durango Herald file)

Pueblo Community College has said it will vacate its Bayfield location on June 30.

In an interview Thursday, PCC President Patty Erjavec said the COVID-19 pandemic never allowed the site to reach its full enrollment potential.

“We had a great plan and framework in place, and then COVID hit,” she said. “We lost a lot of the momentum and then as we came out of COVID, we lost a lot of students.”

The site, located at the former Bayfield Primary School, opened in 2019. It offers classes for high school students interested in college classes and adults furthering their education. It was developed to further build a workforce pipeline in the rural areas near Bayfield and east of Durango.

But Erjavec said Bayfield School District also struggled to fill enrollment necessary to make the location financially viable.

“I think the value proposition of higher ed has been under terrible scrutiny since the pandemic and so there are a lot of individuals who have switched to online or remote synchronous (learning),” she said.

Many potential students are questioning whether a degree is worth the cost compared to the starting salaries for positions that don’t require a college degree, Erjavec said. Despite the college’s attempts to educate potential students about the benefits of earning a degree, some industries have become desperate for workers and won’t require a degree for employment, she said.

“Both the Bayfield School District and PCC went into this venture with the best of intentions,” she said. “And unfortunately, when COVID hit, we lost the momentum. And everything changed.”

The closure will result in the elimination of one full-time staff position. The PCC Southwest campus in Mancos and its Durango site will not be affected, according to a news release.

“I wish to express our sincere appreciation for PCC’s efforts in Bayfield, recognizing the challenging decision to vacate the site,” said PCC Southwest Executive Dean Lisa Snyder in the release.

“We remain optimistic about the future, inspired by PCC’s dedication and innovative spirit,” she said. “While the closure is regrettable, it encourages us to seek alternative ways to serve our communities effectively. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that all students have access to the education and opportunities they need to thrive.”


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