Yavapai College update stirs council meeting
Sept. 1 meeting on Verde Campus
As reported in the June 2015 Villager, the Verde Valley Advisory Committee (VVAC) for Yavapai College's District Governing Board (DGB) has been gathering information since November 2014. We received presentations from many of the College's faculty and administration personnel.
At the May 19, 2015, DGB meeting, the VVAC recommended four actions including, "Do not raise property taxes this year."
At the June 9, DGB meeting, however, the property tax raise passed by a 3-2 vote, with the dissenting votes from board members representing the Verde Valley. This is in addition to a raise in tuition fees.
The college's budget can be viewed at http://yc.edu. Since its revenues come from property taxes, there has been increasing concern among many in the Verde Valley that a disproportionate amount of the taxes we contribute are being spent on building projects for the Prescott campus.
At the June 9 meeting of the DGB, the Advisory Committee presented recommendations for inclusion in the Strategic Plan that were specific and focused on the issues of access, sustainability and structure.
We are encouraging the college to explore ways to expand the reach of their online and ITV (interactive TV) courses to our remote communities, where transportation is a barrier to attending classes on campus and broadband connections are not available. Although we know it's not the responsibility of the college - or even the county - to solve these issues, we do believe there are opportunities to partner with other entities (like schools and libraries) to improve the access for these courses. The committee is exploring reasons for steadily decreasing enrollment on the Verde Campus and possible approaches to ensure our residents have adequate access to the classes they need to continue their education.
This fall the college is adding four new certificate programs at the Verde campus: Culinary Arts Fundamentals, Hotel/Restaurant Management, Enology (wine production) and Film/Media Arts. We are convinced the Verde population base cannot sustain these courses over the long term, so we are encouraging the college to increase recruitment and marketing outside the county, as well as within it. For that to succeed, there may need to be additional capital investment to make affordable housing available for out-of-area students.
Under the structure recommendation, the committee is including the need for plans and actions that would reflect the unique nature of the Verde in both course offerings and foundation and fund-raising activities, which provide scholarships and support.
When I looked at the draft Capital Improvement Plan of the over $11 million for 2015-17, less than $3 million was planned for the east side. I suspect while the college may have spent $21 million on the Verde campus, in that same time frame they spent considerably more on the west side.
We encourage you to attend our meetings (usually held the first and third Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. and mostly on the Verde Campus), as well as DGB meetings (the Sept. 1 one will be on the Verde Campus at 1 p.m.). Or, provide feedback to me at email@example.com.