County supervisors hear college advisory pitch

Photo by Tom Tracey<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Bill Regner, Tim Carter, Al Filardo and Carolyn Fisher discuss their Verde Valley education needs analysis after leaving the county supervisors meeting.

Photo by Tom Tracey<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Bill Regner, Tim Carter, Al Filardo and Carolyn Fisher discuss their Verde Valley education needs analysis after leaving the county supervisors meeting.

COTTONWOOD -- The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors had their chance to catch a pitch by the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee -- but the supervisors tossed-out a few ideas of their own.

College advisory committee members presented their view of Verde Valley-specific needs, such as improved access to courses, sustainability of programs and bolstering the local economy through a better-educated workforce.

Meanwhile, county supervisors pitched two ideas not-yet considered by the committee: Using existing elementary schools for night classes and taking-over the baton from the advisory board.

Board member Al Filardo, a former process improvement consultant and ASU dean, opened the committee's presentation by linking educational preparedness with an improved economy for Yavapai County.

Filardo noted "a $41 trillion gain in the U.S. economy over the lives of generations born in 2010 by boasting U.S. test scores just 25 points, according to the OECD."

He was followed with a presentation by fellow board members Janet Aniol and Carolyn Fisher, both representing unincorporated areas of the county.

Access and sustainability were two key components of their recommendations to Yavapai College.

"Barriers (to accessibility) are lack of transportation. I come from Oak Creek. We have no public transportation," said Fisher. "Janet comes from Beaver Creek. She has no public transportation."

"When people don't have transportation, can we find ways to get to them through technology? I think broadband is a big factor," Fisher said.

Both Fisher and Aniol also pointed-out the difficulty of filling seats in the Verde Valley. Two ideas included boosting in-class attendance with online participants and adding more "2+2" programs to encourage bachelor degree completion.

As for sustainability, Aniol would "encourage capital projects be funded through bonds, rather than raising taxes, tuition and fees."

Paul Chevalier, the chair of the advisory committee, then took to the podium.

"A third of Yavapai College students lived in Verde Valley before. Now, 17 percent are in the Verde Valley. The amount of students has halved, but still a third of the money goes to Yavapai College," said Chevalier.

"Our biggest problem is the rule 15 students to have a class. It's easier there than our side of the mountain. It gets cancelled because they don't have money or gas or time to do it," Chevalier said.

After the presentations concluded, the county supervisors contributed their constituent viewpoint.

"Not everything pencils," said District 2 Supervisor Thomas Thurman, Dewey Annex. "It's the responsibility of government to educate and incarcerate. We don't like to put a deputy in the boonies, but we have to do it. Education is prime."

Thurman also contributed a suggestion to the advisory committee.

"As far as elementary schools, go open a classroom at night. That was very common 20 years ago," Thurman said.

Another member pressed the advisory committee for funding ideas.

"I have issues in my district which is highly rural. How do you plan to pay for transportation?" asked Craig Brown, chairman and district 4 supervisor, administration building.

Chip Davis, vice-chairman and district 3 supervisor, Cottonwood Annex, noted current contributions made by taxpayers.

"Broadband is coming thru the 260 (highway improvement) project. We contribute to public transportation (CAT and LYNX)," said Davis.

When talk turned to extending the advisory committee's term, Davis had an alternative idea.

"I don't know that you need to officially call yourself the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee," Davis said.

"Your board has the same district boundaries as ours. Our board has community meetings, so we have our ear on our citizens. That's what being elected is all about," Davis said.

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