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home : opinions : commentary April 29, 2016

2/27/2014 9:44:00 AM
Commentary: Yavapai College priorities shortchange the Verde Valley

By: Ruth Wicks
My Turn

One hundred and three point eight million dollars ($103, 800,000) is an extraordinary amount of money, and when you realize it will be spent in our county for postsecondary education, it is most exciting. Our citizens will be able to advance themselves economically and socially. Our communities will have a vibrancy unseen in so many other parts of our world.

Yavapai College District Governing Board voted 4 to 1 on Dec. 11, 2013, on a Ten Year Campus Master Plan, of which less than 3 percent will be used in the Verde Valley; the rest of the $103.8 million will be spent on upgrading existing locations and constructing a new campus serving Prescott and Prescott Valley area.

Furthermore, after closing the Camp Verde campus in 2007 the college plans to close and sell the Sedona and Chino Valley campuses, and move several programs, including nursing, EMT and Fire Science, from the Verde Valley campus to a new campus in Prescott Valley.

These centers were financed by bonds approved in 2000 by the voters, and are still being paid for. The proceeds of these sales will help to finance the construction of the proposed 80-acre campus in Prescott Valley. This means that those voters who supported and financed the Sedona and Chino Valley centers will no longer have convenient access to educational programs as promised by the bond they approved.

Has the college lost its way? Is it living to its mission? The mission of the community college system established by our state leaders in the 1960s is to offer affordable, accessible, quality education to the residents of each county. Indeed, the mission of Yavapai College as stated on their website is "to provide quality higher learning and cultural resources for the diverse populations of Yavapai County." The Yavapai College Ten Year Plan is centralizing two thirds of the postsecondary education in a county the size of Connecticut!

Do the college board members know of the hardship they put on our citizens by requiring them to drive an hour and half or more each way to the campuses in the Prescott area in pursuit of postsecondary educational programs? There are many who simply do not have the means to do so.

When Yavapai College District Board can approve of spending a million dollars on refurbishing tennis courts at the Prescott campus while making an investment of less than $3 million over the next 10 years in postsecondary education in the Verde Valley, one must ask. "Is this equitable and or even prudent to deny access to 80,000 residents of Yavapai County?"

This plan is especially disconcerting when one considers that at least $13 million in property taxes are paid by the residents of the Verde Valley each year for the express purpose of supporting Yavapai College. What are these citizens getting for their contributions? Certainly not their fair share.

Why is there no outcry about these injustices and lack of services in our area? Our county Board of Supervisors, superintendents in our various school districts, our civic leaders in our towns and cities and the very citizens who are to pay for this plan with their tax dollars have been kept in the dark. Now it is time for not only our leaders, but each person to understand the impact of this poorly conceived "Ten Year Plan" that the college has approved.

With knowledge there is power. Be courageous! Speak out! Let the leaders of Yavapai College know what you think about this plan. You can help to set a new course for educational opportunities in our valley.

Ruth Marie Wicks is a retired educator.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Article comment by: Maybe I missed something

That is funny, Alice. Obviously, you don't know much about education or degrees.

My courses at Yavapai College were less expensive, more comprehensive and better taught. The teachers were always prepared and the material was relevant. I did the majority of my degree at Yavapai, right here in Clarkdale.

When I went on to NAU to complete the last year of my BA in education, the courses were $800 plus fees, many were poorly taught and not even relevent. I had to commute, which made it more expensive and then there were the snow days. I spent a summer on campus to finish up.

A computers in education course where we did nothing but correct business letters.

A literature class where we did nothing but create lesson plans.

An educational law class where we handed in current event articles and completed a vocabulary list of over 200 terms.

Not to mention the bureaucracy . . . lost payments, lost forms and NO ONE seems to be accountable. Constant threats if the proper paperwork was not turned in by the deadlines. I started sending it registered.

I got my degree, even a masters in Educational Leadership. But my courses at Yavapai College were by far the better value.

Ruth Wicks has been a part of Yavapai since I went way back when . . . she should hold her head high for being part of my education (in her capacity) and the tens of thousands of students who got a quality education from Yavapai College in the Verde Valley.

Looks to me she is still fighting for our community's secondary educational needs . . . you would be wise to heed her words.

Posted: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Article comment by: Tack it on -

A previous comment really drives it home... the back of the napkin math on the added cost of having a class 'over there' is not insignificant.

As far as the nursing program that seems to have vanished- maybe the local hospital can swing a deal with Coconino Comm. College since it is based in flagstaff?

If nothing else at least this got the communities attention... a day late and dollar short but maybe in time to correct some issues.

Posted: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Article comment by: Alice Hollenbeck

An NAU degree gets some respect by employers, a Yavapai degree not so much. If you can afford NAU or UA, FSU you'll be better off in long run.

Posted: Monday, March 3, 2014
Article comment by: Gary Mialocq

To the Yavapai College student and "Can you". STAY IN SCHOOL.

Posted: Monday, March 3, 2014
Article comment by: Faithful Educator

@yc student, just to set the record straight, you are right, the campus is beautiful. Problem is that all the money spent on the campus was for landscaping and heating/cooling. The reality is that after spending around 19 million, which is still less than 20% of what was spent District wide, the Clarkdale campus actually LOST classroom teaching space to make room for offices which support ONLINE education. Also, the Southwest Wine Center, which is one of the greatest addition to the Verde Valley, is COMPLETELY community supported through contributions and Foundation support, which is also contributions. NO taxpayer dollars are being used to bring this great opportunity to this campus.
@ Can you, read the above. Go ahead and continue to spread half-truths, numbers are hard to refute, and your days of bending these fabrications are coming to an end, as everyone becomes more aware of the truth behind these stories. As for spending tax-payer dollars to support our campuses and programs, go ahead and give us what we are paying for, we will gladly continue to support this institution, but close our campuses and spend everything on the other side of the mountain and watch your support die on the vine, along with the futures of our youth.

Posted: Monday, March 3, 2014
Article comment by: Yavapai College Student

For all of those that have questions about the Verde Valley college campus being so-called "short changed", I highly suggest that you drive to the campus and tour it to see for yourself how the recent (2 year old) 20 million dollar renovation has changed this wonderful campus.

And while your at it, take a look at the multi-million dollar Southwest Wine Center project now under way.

LOTS of taxpayer dollars are being poured into this campus to ensure its position in the community for future generations.

Sorry Ruth, but this story is full of non-truths. Time for you to enroll in the college to get an education.

Posted: Sunday, March 2, 2014
Article comment by: Can You?

Oh, gosh, Ruth! Can you look yourself in the face every morning in the mirror? Didn't you strongly advocate for the Southwest Wine Center at the Verde Valley Campus? Why don't you disclose the nearly $20 million dollars spent on the Verde Valley Campus the past two years? Were you outraged that we were getting "more than our due"? Do you genuinely want to confuse people about the difference between capital and operating budgets? The Sedona Campus sits amid a bankrupt conglomerate. How much more taxpayer cash should be injected? Use your leadership for good, not distorted evil.

Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014
Article comment by: Is This A Board Of Equals ....

or WHAT!?

Got to watch the Yavapai College District Board
on cable TV recently and heard nothing more
that what you would expect to hear at an old
Soviet Union legislative meeting.

"...The board will be 100% in agreement with
every issue/act it votes on...every member
will ignore the interest/needs of the district
they represent..."

After hearing those words rolling out of one of
the sitting member (with no objection from the
full board)...I immediately pulled out my old and
dusty "das Capital", Communist Manifesto, Mao
red book,..., etc...to re-learn how to be an
obedient party member...

We have got to be kidding. What is the 'charter'
and or rules and laws that spells out the duty of
the Yavapai College District Board. What is
their parliamentary rules/procedures. If I was
on that board, the cushy comfort we-know-better
attitude toward the voters, who support their
questionable activity of what they call 'college
education', would come to a constructive halt.

Frank Henry

Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014
Article comment by: Natalia Molina

Ruth, you and Bob are an inspiration! I heard you speak recently at MUHS. Great information session.

May I ask what you might be pursuing as next steps to move this conversation/process forward in a positive direction for the benefit of the community?


Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014
Article comment by: Right on, Ruth!

The 10-year Plan is unbelievably short sighted. Thank you for spelling out its deficiencies so well. And thanks to both you and Bob Oliphant for devoting your very valuable time to bring them to Yavapai Community College "stakeholders" attention.

I hope the Verde Valley is listening and ready to roar. But there has been so much to roar about lately, frequent growlers may be running out of grrrrr. Has anyone asked Mingus sophomores how they like the idea of commuting over the mountain for duel enrollment classes that have fled west?


Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014
Article comment by: Joe Biafore

I worked for the college for 12 years in facilities and they are really ripping off the taxpayers with the way they are wasting their money. If these people worked in industry they would be fired with the way they waste money and i never heard anyone say your wasting that money. They just figure oh well the taxpayer will pay. They need someone that does not work for the college to look at what they are doing

Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014
Article comment by: Winifred Bohall

I know the language is inappropriate, but ever since I came to the Verde Valley in 1975 (and worked at Yavapai College), this side of the mountain has been referred to as "the bastard stepchild."

Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014
Article comment by: My prediction is that Yavapai College in Clarkdale is going to shrivel up and die

It's obvious that with the generous 3% of the budget going to Clarkdale is that we are the unwanted stepchild. No growth for the college and taking away classes/programs is going to drop enrollment significantly.

My daughter had decided to go Yavapai College Clarkdale but at the last minute, filled out a NAU application. She has been taking dual enrollment classes at MUHS/Yavapai College Clarkdale during her senior year so is familiar with the campus. She has changed her mind though, and will be going to NAU Fall 2014. She is concerned that there won't be enough students at Clarkdale to interact with.

Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014
Article comment by: Tired of getting ripped off

All properties owners in the Verde get socked big time by Yavapai College. Just check your property tax bill and see. Yet we seem to have no say in how they spend our money.

If I'm understanding this correctly, over the course of Yavapai College's 10 year plan Verde Valley residents will pay at least $130 million, yet all they return to our region is a measly $3 million and change.

I for one am tired of getting ripped off by Yavapai College.

Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014
Article comment by: Darold Smith

Thank you Ruth that is perfectly said.
I asked the question " when and whey were the words Community College removed from the name of the College to just Yavapai college"?None of the governing members at the meeting seem to know when.it happened.
So the connotation is, this is not a Community College anymore it is Yavapai college located in Prescott.

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