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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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3/6/2014 2:38:00 PM
Yavapai College Debate Continues
Verde Valley residents make pleas to keep Sedona campus
Sedona mayor, former college board member among those to speak
Yavapai College Governing Board Chair Ray Sigafoos swears-in new board member Albert Filardo during the board’s meeting in Sedona on Tuesday. Filardo will serve the remaining term for Robert Oliphant, who resigned his seat in opposition to the college’s new 10-year master plan. Patrick Whitehurst/The Daily Courier
Yavapai College Governing Board Chair Ray Sigafoos swears-in new board member Albert Filardo during the board’s meeting in Sedona on Tuesday. Filardo will serve the remaining term for Robert Oliphant, who resigned his seat in opposition to the college’s new 10-year master plan. Patrick Whitehurst/The Daily Courier
By Patrick Whitehurst
The Daily Courier

SEDONA - While no decision has been made to sell the Sedona Campus of Yavapai College, the matter has become contentious.

A number of Verde Valley residents turned out for the college governing board's regular meeting Tuesday, including Sedona Mayor Rob Adams and former Yavapai College Board Member Robert Oliphant, to oppose plans to sell the campus.

College officials, meanwhile, said no decision has been made to sell the property and move the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute to a new location. The digital film school, also located on the Sedona campus, will be closed after the current school year while school officials examine its viability for the future.

Mike Lange, Yavapai College spokesperson, said there are no plans to end the OLLI program, but their address could change depending on the outcome of negotiations with the owners of the Sedona Cultural Park, where the Sedona campus is housed.

"We own the building and a five-foot circumference around the building," Lange said. The college does not own the parking areas and other areas used by the school, he said. Yavapai College also owns a five-acre parcel on the site, which is not connected to the current Sedona campus.

"The negotiations have to find their own way, but we're eager to get something nailed down," Lange said.

OLLI classes are currently offered in Cottonwood, Sedona, Prescott and Prescott Valley.

"Nothing is happening with OLLI. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is very successful and obviously very popular," Lange said. "It is clearly one of the most popular things the college offers in Sedona. There is no danger of the program going away."

Board members could not speak to the concerns during Tuesday's meeting per open meeting law, but could listen to the public.

Oliphant, meanwhile, questioned the board's motives when it comes to a new 10-year master plan and said Verde Valley residents were losing faith in the community college.

Board members approved the 10-year plan in December. Oliphant, who served on the board at the time, later resigned in opposition to the plan.

"You say in this new plan that you're going to close only a part of the nursing program and move it to Prescott Valley. With that you're taking away some hope. You say that you're going to sunset the digital film program in Sedona. With that, you're taking away some of the hope over here on this side of the mountain," Oliphant said.

The sale of the Sedona campus, he added, also removes hope from Verde Valley residents.

"The citizens of Sedona and the greater Verde Valley are asking you this. Can you give us the opportunity to participate in the Sedona and Verde campuses in a full and meaningful way before they die? If they die, let us bury them, but first give us hope," Oliphant said.

Like Oliphant, Adams also commented on the college's master plan.

"As some of you may know, or not know, Sedona is completing our community plan amendment. That took us three years to get through that process," Adams said, adding that many weren't aware of the college's planning process and therefore questioned the new master plan's outcome.

"I think this is one of the real deficiencies in your 10-year plan. Quite frankly, I don't remember an ad or any kind of notification in Sedona that there was any kind of meeting here. I know there were some meetings that took place over at the Yavapai campus in Clarkdale," Adams said.

Selling the Sedona campus without due process, he said, would be a mistake.

"I think you've come to a conclusion that is erroneous," Adams said. "I ask you to reconsider. I ask you to take the sale of the Sedona campus off the table in your 10-year plan."

Tuesday's meeting counted as the first for Albert Filardo, Verde Valley representative for the college.

Filardo, a 15-year resident of the Verde Valley, will hold the seat through Dec. 31.

The four-year term expires this year and will be up for election in November.

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, March 9, 2014
Article comment by: It seems to me:

There were more problems with the Sedona Film School than declining enrollment.

Dan Gordon, founder of the original Zaki Gordon Institute for Independent Filmmaking, wasn't happy with the changes Yavapai College made to his program and left in 2012. Yavapai College wasn't happy with the school's insistence on full-time students only, with no opportunity for Mingus students to take dual enrollment courses, no extension courses, and few local employment opportunities.

Bob Oliphant's energies might be better focused in areas with less complications and more benefit to the community at large.

With the area's major health network based in Cottonwood and Flagstaff, the decline and relocation of the nursing program is both odd and troubling. The Clarkdale campus needs more sustainable local career paths for local students, not fewer. The Verde Valley does seem to be short-changed in funds needed for promising new programs and continuing mainstays.

But reorganization of the Sedona campus could be an opportunity for the City of Sedona and local filmmakers. Rather than fighting to keep Yavapai College in film courses, the alumni, faculty, and students could be working to get the Sedona Film School out of community college administration, take it private, and rebuild its reputation.

Posted: Saturday, March 8, 2014
Article comment by: Just Saying

Isn't it up the college to provide programs that will bring the students to the campuses so they DON'T have to close them?

Why not find out what the communities need/want and work to provide that?

Posted: Saturday, March 8, 2014
Article comment by: Bob Hope(less)

I attended a public meeting at Mingus High School where Mr. Bob put on a weird slide show with a lot of "facts" that didn't seem very real. Then he was at Sedona for the governing Board meeting, where he went on and on about the Verde Valley being "hopeless." I think it's a good thing that he resigned. Maybe he wasn't able to be a strong advocate for community college with that outlook. Why does he keep asking for dormitories, performing arts, athletic fields and a swimming pool for the Verde campus? He should get a membership at Cottonwood Rec Center, and let the college focus on education. I think he means well, but his Midwest ministry to our masses just isn't playing out that well.

Posted: Friday, March 7, 2014
Article comment by: College & Trade Schools ...

Maybe the county ought to encourage private
sector to get into College & Trade School

Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2014
Article comment by: Bill Lumberg

"Can you give us the opportunity to participate in the Sedona and Verde campuses in a full and meaningful way before they die? If they die, let us bury them, but first give us hope,"

What? What is he taking about? Who talks like that?

Low interest is the reason the Verde Nursing and Sedona Film programs are being shuttered. There weren't enough students to even do a spring semester program start. More than half the nursing students on Verde are driving over from P and PV.

If you see the big picture you'll see the College is making the right decisions given the resources at their disposal, their declared mission, the varied interest in their offerings and their commitment to the people of Yavapai County.

Running an institution of higher learning, cultural contribution and economic development requires rational decisions made using data. Mr O's emotional pleas are a Red Herring and not in the best interest of the students of the college.

All hacks off the stage.

Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2014
Article comment by: Regina Felange

Wasn't Oliphant on the board? So we are to believe this guy's "hopes" went only as far as participating until he no longer got his way on the board, and then he resigned so he could throw rocks from the outside? Has it occurred to him that maybe the reason they are not agreeing to continue to sink money into the Sedona and VV campus is because they do not have the enrollment to support the expenditure. Good lord, it's not personal -it's business- look at the numbers!

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