Despite Arizona’s minimum wage hike and cuts in state funding for community colleges, Yavapai College’s budget is looking pretty stable. This is partly why the college is considering putting more money in the pockets of students who need it most.
The Yavapai College District Governing Board (DGB) has long expressed interest in finding ways to increase access to education for the underserved lower socioeconomic populations within the county.
At its regular monthly meeting on April 18, the discussion came up again, and this time, suggestions were provided by Gerry Garvey, fellow associate of Prescott College’s Institute for Sustainable Change.
In a presentation to the board, Garvey reviewed a study she conducted recently that detailed poverty indicators and an assessment of resources, as well as possible next steps in Yavapai County.
Of all the indicators in the study, which included housing, predator protection, job opportunities, transportation, health services and leadership, educational services scored the best among survey participants. That said, it was still only considered to be “somewhat inadequate,” whereas the other categories were scored to be either “inadequate” or “less than adequate.”
“I think the somewhat inadequate was about people being burdened with school loans,” Garvey said.
Board chair Ray Sigafoos said he believed the board should be providing additional support to students in need of financial aid by offering more institutional need-based scholarships.
“I’ve made the point the last 10 or 12 years, that when we increase the tuition, we ought to be putting aside a bit of that tuition toward some sort of institutional scholarship, so we can keep those people who need those extra dollars,” Sigafoos said.
The college was offering more institutional scholarships several years ago, but was forced to reduce them in order to balance the budget, said Clint Ewell, vice president of Finance and Administrative Services for YC. That may now reverse in the coming years due to the board’s interest in increasing access.
“Based on the feedback we received from the Board on Tuesday, we will work to develop some alternatives to create additional institutional scholarships as part of the FY (fiscal year) 2018-19 budget,” Ewell said.
Ewell noted that the college does, however, already provide financial support to many of those students with the most need.
“The YC Foundation offers roughly $450,000 a year in need-based scholarships,” he said.
Other board news
The board approved four Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) between Yavapai College and the following entities:
• Sedona Oak Creek Unified School District, to invest in or upgrade the Sedona Performing Arts Center.
• Humboldt Unified School District, to provide on-site nursing training through March 19, 2018.
• Yavapai County Superior Court’s Juvenile Court Center, to provide a Youth Summer Training and Enrichment Program.
• Mayer Unified District, for the lease of property at Mayer High School through May 2022.
The board also approved moving forward with a brief survey to Yavapai County residents to gauge the public’s support of the DGB’s stated ends of Education, Economic Development and Cultural Enrichment, as well as the public’s satisfaction with the college’s services. The survey will be administered in the coming months, and the results should be presented to the board in August.
Ewell presented a detailed review of the FY 2017-18 Preliminary Budget for the board’s discussion. Highlights of the presentation are as follows:
• The preliminary budget does not include a tax levy increase.
• Tuition is purposefully set at least 20 percent below the national community college average to reflect the Yavapai County median income which is 20 percent below the national average.
• The proposed budget reflects a decrease of more than $300,000 compared with the previous fiscal year.
• The state is expected to contribute $160,000 less in operating aid as well as a decrease of $135,00 in science, technology, engineering and math funding compared with the previous fiscal year.
• A 3 percent compensation increase is proposed for faculty and staff, which includes a 1.3 percent increase in hours.
• The budget includes several capital projects including the completion of the Sedona Center Culinary Arts renovation, the renovation of space for Performing Arts and Visual Arts on the Prescott Campus and the completion of an Allied Health Expansion at the Prescott Valley Center.
The board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget on Tuesday, May 9, at 1 p.m. on the Prescott campus, 1100 E. Sheldon St. The board’s next regular meeting will take place at 1:45 p.m. on the same date and at the same location.
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