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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news May 26, 2016

4/17/2014 9:09:00 AM
Verde Valley wants its own college: State laws make scenario unlikely
New college board member Al Filardo said,
New college board member Al Filardo said, ""In order to accomplish the main intent of the committee that's, for lack of a better terminology, raising Cain about creating a new college, they would really have to create a new county."
Contributing Reporter

PRESCOTT -- Discussions for a proposed Verde Valley community college, largely separate of Yavapai College, were dismissed Tuesday by members of the Yavapai College Governing Board.

The idea for a separate administrative district stemmed from concerns raised by former Yavapai College board member Robert Oliphant over the college's 10-year master plan. Oliphant vacated his seat in January over concerns that the Prescott and Prescott Valley campuses were receiving more financial attention than the Verde Valley campus. Verde Valley representative Albert Filardo replaced Oliphant in February.

A new community college would keep Verde Valley tax dollars in the Verde Valley, said Sedona City Council Member Jessica Williamson, who clarified she wasn't speaking for the council. Williamson said she agreed with other speakers present for the meeting in supporting a separate administrative structure for the Verde Valley.

"I think it's time to address this issue," Williamson said. "It's time we took responsibility for the post-secondary education of our own residents. It's a tremendous opportunity for Yavapai College to recognize the maturity of our community and the fact that we really are able to do that."

The Verde Valley, she added, needs "self-determination."

On Tuesday, Yavapai College Attorney Lynne Adams told governing board members there can only be one community college per county per Arizona Statute 15-1402.

"In terms of the creation of a community college district, statutes are centered around counties. Only a county can create a community college district. You can't have two community college districts in a single county. You can have two counties form a single community college district," Adams said.

To form a new community college, the county would have to split, in effect creating a new county, she said.

Forming a separate administration within the current district, she said, is not covered in Arizona Statute, nor does Arizona law grant Yavapai College the authority to do so. In Maricopa County, for instance, Adams said there are separate campuses, referred to as colleges, but they all operate under the umbrella of the single district.

"If you wanted to, you could call your campuses whatever you wanted," Adams said. "The budgetary powers are still with the governing board as a whole. You establish the priorities that you believe are appropriate."

Filardo said the "elephant in the room" is the desire by some Verde Valley residents to create a new publicly funded college in the Verde Valley to control budgetary matters.

"In order to accomplish the main intent of the committee that's, for lack of a better terminology, raising Cain about creating a new college, they would really have to create a new county," Filardo said.

Board members also spoke about improving communications with Verde Valley residents, which could include meetings with city council members from Sedona and elsewhere to provide a "state of the college" address.

Board members plan to further discuss the 10-year plan, as well as the Verde Valley concerns, such as dispelling rumors about discontinuing the nursing program in Cottonwood, during a special board retreat planned for September.

Governing Board members also hinted at an agreement with the owners of the Sedona Cultural Park on Tuesday, which would allow the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute to remain on the Sedona campus. On Tuesday, board members discussed the agreement in executive session, not open to the public, but authorized the board chair to execute a letter of intent regarding the park. The agreement could be finalized by August.

"After 12 years it appears that Dr. Wills and the college attorney have finally managed to reach an agreement, or at least a letter of intent, to execute a transfer of property," said board member Herald Harrington.

Follow reporter Patrick Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Article comment by: Cynthia Malla

It's simple. The Clarkdale campus would be a college within the Yavapai College District with its own president, board (hopefully folks that actually live here) and a chance in hell of keeping some of our hard earned money in our own community. The 10 year plan is based on the feedback of 57 PEOPLE that responded to the "survey" by the company hired by the college - hardly a representative sample. 43,000 people live in the Verde Valley. We can support our own college. It would take 3 board member votes to make it happen. Also, those of you that are attacking and insulting the good people that are trying to do something about this situation should be ashamed of yourselves. Those of you that don't even sign your real names - that goes double. Making fun of Mr. Oliphant's name? Really?

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Article comment by: @ Self determination

Are Maricopa County's multiple administrative districts legal under current Arizona law? Yes or No,

Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2014
Article comment by: Pak E. Derm

An elephant named desire?

Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2014
Article comment by: Self Determination

"Self determination" for the Verde Valley Campus may be worth exploring, but "self aggrandizement," as practiced by the zealots leading this cause, is a destructive, unsavory course of action. And that little county south of here with about 4 million residents, that's what you're comparing to the Verde Valley? Each "college" in that monstrous district serves a greater population base than our entire county. More layers of administration mean less money in the classroom. Let's work together to build programs for students, and not tear the district apart.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

I doubt that anyone who'd characterize Robert Oliphant as an elephant would be open to any type of reasonable argument. Ruth Wicks even less so.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: One would think

Answering Darold Smith's April 19 letter would be more effective than calling Bob Oliphant an elephant. In case you missed it:

'...Maricopa County (just south of here) has a single community college district and 10 separate colleges-each with its own president (I looked it up on the web). Or at least that is what the web sites say. And I've actually seen some of those colleges.

'Maybe those ten community colleges in Maricopa required ten separate counties. If they did, somebody better tell old Joe Arpaio.

'In the literature I've picked up from those trying to find a way to escape from the oppression foisted on the Valley by Prescott, there's a statute they claim supports establishing an administrative district. In part (I copied it), it says: "A district board shall: . . . set standards for the establishment, development, administration, operation and accreditation of community colleges in the district." AZ 15-1445 (2014)...'

Of course, if you don't have an answer, you couldn't, could you?


Posted: Monday, April 21, 2014
Article comment by: The Craziest Thing

So, if I'm reading this correctly, the same YC District Governing Board responsible for approving the current 10-year master plan, would now be charged with"balancing" needs between Prescott and Verde under the new "double down" admin plan. Mr. Elephant, err, Oliphant, how is this better??? You quit, so you could better serve? Ummm, how is this working out? Don't Arizona Revised Statutes have to be changed to effect what your are proffering?

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014
Article comment by: Fact Check

Yavapai Community College's Clarkdale campus is in Clarkdale, not Cottonwood. But maybe Patrick Whitehurst was trying to demonstrate how little the YCC Board, and its "independent expert consulting agency," really knows about the needs of communities on this side of the mountain.

That's the 900 pound gorilla chasing that straw elephant around the council chamber. They don't know and they don't care.

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014
Article comment by: Bill Lumberg

Good work. This is the first article I've seen that actually focuses on fact. The more you rationally evaluate the idea, the clearer it becomes that it is simply unworkable.

The 10 year plan was not written by the board or by the administration. It was created by and independent expert consulting agency with extensive community input. It was developed by a third party precisely because they could view the issues objectively. If the verde residents that came to speak at the meeting had actually stayed to hear the board'a discussion maybe they could understand all of this as well as this reporter did. Sadly they just came, complained and left even though this issue was on the agenda.

The real "elephant in the room" is Mr. Oliphant and his ambition in this matter. Take a close look and you'll see his purpose is political and about control. It isn't at all about helping students. He has won a small group to his cause by using emotion and obfuscation. He has told half truths to make people feel like victims. That's powerful politics but terrible policy.

I commend the college administration and the board for keeping focused on their commitment to all the students of the county and for their efforts to use our tax dollars as strategically as they can.

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014
Article comment by: The Elephant or Oliphant?

Did Filardo say "the elephant" or "the Oliphant" in the living room? Either way, it's a big burden.

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