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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news May 26, 2016

1/22/2014 2:57:00 PM
UPDATE: Bob Oliphant resigns from Yavapai College board
'No one addressed what I consider to be a major gap in our education opportunities over here'
Bob Oliphant: “You sort of see the situation as being one of hopelessness, and you work very hard and prepare thoroughly, but I simply give up. I have these other engagements that are very important to me that need more of my time.”
Bob Oliphant: “You sort of see the situation as being one of hopelessness, and you work very hard and prepare thoroughly, but I simply give up. I have these other engagements that are very important to me that need more of my time.”
Evolved, not wasted: College says funding, economy influence programs

Staff Reporter

The Yavapai College board is looking for a new member to fill in until a November election after Robert Oliphant resigned this week over the school's plan to eliminate several rural programs over the next 10 years.

Yavapai College Board Chair Ray Sigafoos said in a statement that Oliphant's "different point of view" was helpful to the decision-making process.

"I've enjoyed working with Bob over the past year," he said. "He injected ideas into our discussions that we might otherwise not have considered."

Oliphant was the only no vote in December when the board voted 4-1 to pursue a 10-year plan that eliminates programs created by a $69 million taxpayer-supported bond passed in 2000. He pointed to the Camp Verde, Chino Valley and Sedona campuses, among others.

The plan recommends the Sedona film school and Chino Valley Paulden campus be sold in the next 10 years, proceeds going toward funding the rest of the $100-million proposal.

This is the first of a three-phase process to get the plan approved, according to a statement released Wednesday afternoon by Yavapai College spokesman Mike Lange. Board members are now focusing on phase one projects and developing a financial plan.

He said if the school decides to pursue a bond, taxpayers are not responsible for the type that will "likely" be used to finance the other half of the campus master plan's price tag.

"We funded the last CMP with general obligation bonds, a portion of which are still outstanding," he said. "Since the last Campus Master Plan in 2000, the Arizona legislature has expanded the types of projects for which revenue bonds can be used - most notably classrooms can now be financed through revenue bonds."

This move by the legislature shows that the state acknowledges that community colleges "needed additional tools to address their capital needs."

Still, Lange said this is only one of many types of bonds being considered. Unlike a revenue bond, the general obligation bond passed in 2000 had to appeal to voters in all areas of Yavapai County.

Projects created in rural communities using the $69-million bond evolved over time, Lange said.

The Camp Verde Campus, opened in 2003, was closed less than 10 years after opening due to low enrollment and "markedly decreased state funding" in 2010-11, Lange said.

A partnership with Mayer High School is still working to provide Cordes Junction with "needed classes in this area," using 2000 general obligation bond funds. The 2000 campus master planned anticipated a 6,000-square-foot facility along the HW69 corridor, but Lange said the population did not grow as expected.

"We now have a 1,440-square-foot facility there," he said.

The Northern Arizona Skills Center has evolved, but continues to "be used to provide science and other pre-nursing and Allied Health coursework as part of the new Campus Master Plan."

Yavapai College did spend about 80 percent of the general obligation bond money on the Prescott and Prescott Valley campuses, but Lange said this alone is misleading.

He said the school has invested more per full-time-equivalent student at the Verde campus, at $75,000, than at the Prescott, $37,000, or Prescott Valley, $25,000, locations.

This is in addition to $18.7 million invested in the school over the past two years from bond money and the college's savings, as well as completing the teacher winery later this year, a cost of $2 million, he said.

"The Verde Valley campus is a beautiful, state-of-the-art campus that is poised for growth," he said. " ... We do not foresee the need for major additional capital improvements until the student body grows significantly."

The Prescott Valley campus, however, is projected to see the most growth out of all the campuses in the next 10 years. A $37-million Center for Excellence in Nursing and Allied Health is planned at that location as a result, along with housing Emergency Management Systems and Emergency Medical Technology programs.

"Prescott Valley is centrally located to county populations," he said. "The new campus will serve the needs of the whole county without the added cost to taxpayers of creating multiple versions of the most costly career programs, such as nursing."

Yvonne Gonzalez
Staff Reporter

The sole 10-year facilities plan dissenter on the Yavapai College Governing Board has resigned after members decided 4-1 in December to move into the budgeting phase of the process.

Robert Oliphant was the only member to vote against continuing to support the current draft of a facilities master plan that spells out $100 million in capital improvement projects and was first discussed by the board in November.

Oliphant was one year and 20 days into a six-year term that started Jan. 1, 2013.

"I thought that I could be a strong voice for the people in the third district who have been badly underserved, in my judgment," Oliphant said. "That was my primary motivation, to try and more effectively serve the people here in the Verde Valley."

A bond issue in 2000 allocated $69 million in taxpayer-backed money to capital improvement projects. Oliphant said in order to appeal to the whole of Yavapai County, funds were slated for the college to expand to rural areas.

These programs and the funds used to get them up and running, Oliphant said, were "seemingly wasted."

At least three programs that were started using bond money approved in 2000 are being eliminated by the new 10-year plan. The Camp Verde campus has been opened and closed, the Sedona campus will no longer offer the film program, and the Chino Valley-Paulden campus with its Agribusiness and Science Technology Center will soon be closed.

The Sedona campus was outfitted using bond and federal dollars to be a cutting-edge film school in 2008, and may transition again to house a culinary program.

A Cordes Junction partnership with Mayer High School was supposed to create a 6,000-square-foot educational center, but Oliphant said this was never opened.

The $3.1 million Northern Arizona Regional Skills Center was set up at the Verde campus in 2004 using bond money and federal funds.

"About three and a half years later, it simply vanished," Oliphant said. "No one has explained. Why was the Camp Verde campus open and closed in such a short time? No explanation."

To develop the Southwest Wine Center, Oliphant said it was "very clear" that a dormitory or some kind of student housing facility would be needed, but this was not part of the 10-year plan.

The 10-year, $100-million capital development budget sets aside $37 million for a Center of Excellence for Nursing and Allied Health in Prescott Valley.

He said the Prescott campus "already" has a range of programs, including a three-year Prescott Valley bachelor's program in partnership with Northern Arizona University that was started in 2010, and a vocational training center.

"The vocational training development is fantastic, but it's not accessible to any high school student on this side of the county," he said.

The new 10-year plan emphasizes growing the Career and Technical Education Division, either by purchasing 4 or 5 more acres of land in Prescott or expanding to Prescott Valley. Oliphant said asking students to make a 90- to 150-mile round trip to access quality vocational training is unreasonable.

"No one addressed what I consider to be a major gap in our education opportunities over here," he said. "It's something this side of the county should have been working on for the last 40 years."

Half of the $100 million cost to make these improvements could come from the sale of campuses as spelled out in the master plan, and the other half will likely be drawn from some sort of bond.

The Daily Courier in Prescott reported in December that Herold Harrington, YC governing board spokesman, said the college might pursue revenue bonding. Unlike a general obligation bond that is repaid through tax dollars, and therefore must be approved by voters, revenue bonds are paid back using funds generated by a revenue-producing enterprise and, as a result, carry higher interest rates.

Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter announced and is accepting applications for the Yavapai College board's third district spot. Carter is accepting letters of interest from potential candidates to fill the vacancy.

Only District 3 residents can apply, among other restrictions, and letters of interest must be submitted by Feb. 14.

Candidate information will be available Feb. 17, with interviews before a five-person committee Feb. 19-20. The public can provide input during the Yavapai County Board of Supervisor's Feb. 21 meeting in Cottonwood from 2 to 4 p.m.

The term runs from Feb. 24 through Dec. 31, with the candidate with the most votes during this November's election serving the remaining four years.

Retired from law since 2006, Oliphant writes legal textbooks and has held leadership positions in the community. A Yavapai County Schools news release cited "family commitments, work schedule, and publication deadlines for legal books" that he authors as the reason for his resignation.

"I'm sure that the superintendent will find someone who will fill my seat who will be well qualified and who will hopefully have a better experience than I had," Oliphant said.

Work deadlines take precedence over the low return Oliphant said he was getting on the effort and preparation required of a board member.

"It was clear that there was nothing I could do to alter that decision," Oliphant said. "You sort of see the situation as being one of hopelessness, and you work very hard and prepare thoroughly, but I simply give up. I have these other engagements that are very important to me that need more of my time."

A statement from Yavapai College was not available Tuesday.

Follow the reporter on Twitter @ymgonzal and Instagram @Verde_News

Taylor Waste
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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, January 25, 2014
Article comment by: Why doesn't it matter

Here's to you, Mr Oliphant. The other people on the board must not have anyone of college age or near college age. Why doesn't the Verde Valley matter? Good job for what you have attempted to accomplish. I'm sure you'll go on to a better job. This college always seems to have a broken leg and you attempted to fix it. Thank you.

Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014
Article comment by: Please run for COCSD board Bob

Looks like Bob learned the lesson most of us who've been around for a while already know: the Verde Valley is completely dominated politically and financially by Prescott.

Meantime, let's hope Bob puts his considerable skills and abilities where they will most benefit: the hapless COCSD school board, arguably the least effective of any elected body in the Verde region.

Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014
Article comment by: Um, to

I don't mean to be rude, but the Prescott College Campus Village Apartments have nothing to do with Yavapai College. Prescott College is a private, school for liberal arts, the environment and social justice (for the uber-rich). Ain't irony a beautiful thing?

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: Get Real

Does anyone really think worldwide interlopers are invading online courses at Yavapai College? Have you heard of in-state tuition? Arizona law allows any student with residency to attend a state supported college or university at a lower rate. Out-of-state students pay higher raters. And about your taxes, you pay for K-12, fire districts, and the library, even if you "don't use them." Maybe you "use" the nurse, mechanic, computer technician or paralegal who earned their certificate or degree at Yavapai College. Get a grip.

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: To guess how expensive Dorms are...

Yavapai College knows how how much a dorm cost to build. In 2012, Prescott College’s Campus Village Apartments—open in Fall 2012. Here, at our on-campus housing for first-year students, you’ll get the chance to ..... And they are extensively renovating the existing dorms as I write. Why does Prescott have all the dorm housing???

Oh, that's because we live in the Verde Valley

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: Truth Be Told

Yavapai College recieves a huge portion of their PROFITS from us local tax payers, it is taken out of our property tax regardless if we attend college or would choose to support it or not! They are dumping classes and campuses that would serve the local community because they are less profitable than classes they can fill by online classes by people all over the world! That's what their focus is for the future, a growing online presence for students in other places because it's more profitable. How is it remotely ethical to place a financial burden on our community for a BUSINESS that is focusing its services on customers that don't even live here?? I'll give you a hint, it's NOT! This is the real story that will never see any ink!

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: Quitter Quitter


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Wait a Minute

. . . so he ran for a 6-year term, expecting to re-focus a County-wide system with his lone, few, NO votes? Guess how expensive dormitories are! Would he like to have some next to his Del Webb subdivision? I guess the big, white horse he rode in on must have broken its leg. Maybe he can go back to hassling the City of Cottonwood.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Deb McCasland

I am so sorry to see Bob Oliphant leave the college board. He researched the issues and questioned the staff on their presentations. The tax payers of Yavapai County need more people like Bob on the YC governing board, not rubber stamps.
During Bob's tenure as the President of the YC Verde Campus Foundation he revived a defunct committee, started scholarships for the Verde Campus and was a successful fundraiser. He is a leader and has been a great asset to Yavapai College.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Something is Fishy

Something is fishy about all this. Like him or not, Mr. Oliphant is on to something. From what Yavapai College has published, a mere 3% of the $82.5 million in improvements in the 10-year plan is slated for the Verde Valley ... and the biggest chunk of that is for a $2 million green house. Aside from the green house, we get some new signage ($150,000) and "general open space" improvements ($300,000). Just how does this serve the educational needs of the Verde Valley for the next 10 years?!

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