Yavapai College Governing Board blindsides local efforts, suspends Verde Valley Advisory Committee

Much has happened since my last article about the progress of the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee to the Yavapai College District Governing Board. Friday evening and all day Saturday, Sept. 9-10, about 100 people attended the Verde Valley Forum on "The Future of Post-Secondary Education in the Verde Valley." It was a tremendous gathering of stakeholders from school districts, businesses, cities and towns, Yavapai College staff, students and interested citizens from around the county.

We came up with five specific areas we wanted to focus on in the next year or so, including access, connections and communication through a Verde Valley Consortium, and creating a "Cradle to Career" culture. The Forum is planning opportunities in the various communities throughout the Valley during October to discuss the results and plans.

The College's DGB met on Monday, Sept. 12, for their annual retreat and, in the last 20 minutes, voted to "suspend" the VVBAC. This vote followed the 3 to 2 split we have seen on many occasions - the 2 "no" votes were the members representing the Verde Valley. Most of us did not find out about this vote until we attended the DGB's monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016.

The Committee members were blindsided, to say the least. Our final meeting was held the next day, as previously scheduled. While we are not officially done until September 30th (and thus are subject to Open Meeting Laws until October 1st), I don't think you will see us "suspend" our efforts. We have spent a lot of time and energy learning about the issues and advocating that more of your Yavapai College tax dollars are used for resources on the east side of the county (Verde Valley) rather than for non-educational amenities on the west side of the county.

On a positive note for this quadrant of the Verde, I recently met with Dr. James Perey, Executive Dean of the College's Clarkdale campus: Dennis Garvey, Dean of Lifelong Learning; and Debbie Jones, Principal of Big Park Community School, to discuss establishing classes (probably OLLI initially) in Big Park/Village of Oak Creek. This would be a good step forward to increasing the access to the college in this corner of the Verde. I hope many of you will add your voices to this issue either through the upcoming Forum feedback events, directly to the College or through the Big Park Regional Coordinating Council. I will continue to be active in ensuring the Future of Post-Secondary Education (for credit, non-credit and OLLI offerings) in the Verde Valley.

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