369 How do you feel about the new GCC rates?

Comments

Tom Garrett 8 months ago

I don't know how you feel, but it saddened me to see Tom Loeffler go, and I found part of what he had to say about his resignation from GCC to be disturbing.

Loeffler's comment that the board members from South County have apparently resumed voting as a block, making decisions without the facts to back up the changes is, if true, disturbing. I hope it is a misperception.

However, Loeffler goes on to say that when he objected to the lack of projections of figures supporting the proposed 25 percent tuition cut a month into the fiscal year, the other board members took a “‘we’ll try it and see" position.

I'm not so sure that's a bad idea. It's a courageous and innovative way to approach a knotty problem. Many other organizations, faced with similar problems, have taken the opposite approach, increasing fees and cutting services, and have not lived to tell the tale.

Who's right? Beats me, but I can tell you this much: I watched some private bus and rail companies cut routes and increase fares when private vehicles became more readily available after WWII, with the result that they went straight out of business. Other companies tightened their belts, increased service and lowered rates, and are still in business today, 70 years later.

The public is an unpredictable animal, and public relations can rarely be reduced to a mathematical formula. I've given the matter some thought and I'll go on record that my position is, "I think that making GCC more financially attractive is worth a try."

Why? Running a school without students just doesn't work.

Good luck, GCC.

Good luck to you too, Tom. We appreciate your years of selfless service and thank you for them.

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Pat Randall 8 months ago

I think if senior citizens want to go to school let them pay the regular cost. I'm sure they have more money than a high school graduate wanting to get a higher education.

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Tom Garrett 8 months ago

Pat,

I don't disagree that retirees may have a few more bucks than kids just getting out of high school, but what I need to do is to point out that what we have seen as part of the GCC discussion is a discredited method of argument often used by people who are trying to cloud an issue.

It's called a "faulty dilemma," Pat, and since you're a person who doesn't let people pull the wool over your eyes you're going to get mad when you realize what some people have been trying to do. They have been trying to make it look like there are only two kinds of people who go to GCC, and so the issue is between just those two kinds of people. That's a classic trick used in debates. It tries to get you to think there are only two choices when there are many, many choices.

Despite what some people have said, the choice isn't between high school kids and the elderly; people of all kinds use GCC, and for many different reasons. The real question is how GCC can increase its enrollment, making it possible to attract people with a wide and varied offering of classes. And the people who have been saying that it's a choice between high school kids and the elderly know doggone well that's what the real issue is.

I'll add something more to think about in a second post.

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Tom Garrett 8 months ago

Because teachers are not exactly overpaid I used to teach evening and weekends for Chapman University, the University of Phoenix, and Mesa Community. I was on the board at Chapman, and one of our big problems was courses that didn't quite make because they were one or two students short of the usual number. That meant that several thousand dollars in fees were lost.

It soon became obvious that allowing a few non-paid students made good economic sense. We were able to offer more courses, in more areas, attract a larger group of people, and do more both for ourselves and the community. Seniors were an obvious target. Being retired, they no longer needed to continue their education for the usual reasons, but taking a course now and then filled empty hours left by the loss of a spouse, or by children and families that had gone off on their own and had little time for grandma or grandpa. Taking courses kept them involved, helped them to feel that their active lives were not ended, got them thinking about aspects of life they'd had no time for while younger, and often ended up with their making new friends, or joining a volunteer group that aided the community, or a group of people with like minds and interests. All in all, it was a win-win-win situation for the school, the instructors, and the students.

That's what is really going on at GCC. It isn't some kind of competition between kids and seniors; it's board members taking a wise and carefully considered look at what is best for GCC, not just as a service to the community, but as an economically viable institution.

And don't forget another thing: A good portion of the taxes that support GCC come from those same seniors. Many of them have been paying taxes that supported GCC for a long time — and are still paying them. This isn't some large city where a large proportion of the people are of school age. In a town like Payson, where the majority of people are retired, it is their support that created GCC, and their taxes that keep it going. It's hard to see how it hurts anything to offer those folks a little return for their generosity. In fact, it seems like the right thing to do.

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don evans 8 months ago

Tom, I disagree with your statements about Payson and surrounding community seniors. I am one of them. Most of the seniors here are Boomers who have earned and retired with pensions and get social security benefits. They own their homes ( no payments), have a newer car, and some disposable income for wants. The average "Payson" senior can well afford a modest school fee to take a jewelry making class, or computer skills class etc. Should they decide on a hard academic class or educational pursuit possibly a reduced tuition rate might be appropriate. But for the viability of GCC there should be no total free ride in my opinion. The tax argument is an old one. If there is public education present in the community, your going to pay a tax for it children or no children, senior or not. That's a concern I have about the proposed ASU Campus. I have seen no projection of costs to the Town/Taxpayers for providing the necessary services for it's operation.

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Pat Randall 8 months ago

Tom, I had two grandkids wanting to go to school here and the classes they needed were not available. But it seemed there were always arts and crafts for the seniors at cut rate price. One did come back later but had to go to Thatcher and somewhere else a few times for classes. That's quite a distance to drive for a class. Think she took some classes on the internet.

I don't know why anyone would think we need what Evans has planned for us to be taxed on. Seems one college would be enough if run right. There won't be any retirees left to take any classes anywhere as they will have to move where the property taxes aren't so high. Not everyone has a retirement and SS or other income. I have SS, and other income, no retirement, if I had to live on SS me and my dog would be homeless, even though everything I have is paid for.

Don, not all retirees in Payson are like you with SS and a pension. Many are older than you and their homes are not paid for. They are leaving now. Drive around and look at the vacant houses. Many couples moved here and when one died that cut their income. So they have left to live with a family member somewhere else. They can't even afford medicine and food.

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Pat Randall 8 months ago

I don't know of any charity here in Payson that helps the elderly but we are asked every week to keep the Humane society open to take care of old, sick, and dying animals. Gather up cats, have them neutered and then dump them back in the neighborhoods. I like animals, have had cats and dogs all my life, but when they get sick and won't get well, they are put to permanent sleep. I had to do that to a little dog I had for 17 yrs. I have a dog now that I have made two trips to Mesa to a special vet. to take care of her and she is doing fine. Almost $1500. My vet here referred her to Mesa. She takes care of me by letting me know when my blood pressure is up. She did it after only having her 3 days. Was never trained to do it. She jumped on my lap and stared at me with her paws on my heart and pacemaker. BP was 201/101. If it gets high while I am asleep, she puts her paw over my nose to wake me up. Yes, there is the Senior Center where people can go to eat at low prices, if they have a way to get there but it is closed on the weekends. Yes there is meals on wheels but it all has to be paid for.

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Pat Randall 8 months ago

Tom, and Don. Read it, what parts of it were there. some things I clicked on were not there. Sounds like a bunch of crap for some investors. Not donations as explained at first. Don, you said RCEA can sue and be sued. But RCEA can not pass debt along to members. How does that work? The more I read about it the more confused I am. Sounds like a bunch of gobbeldey goop to me.
Do they still have the Chinese co. that is going to build solar equipment there? Sounds commercial instead of educational to me. Now we have hotels, conference places and what else? Doesn't sound like a college. Sounds like a bunch of investors snowed the FS and it is a commercial undertaking. Maybe I should have gone to college or been a farmer to understand.

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Tom Garrett 8 months ago

"But for the viability of GCC there should be no total free ride in my opinion."

Don, having been there and done that I can tell you with absolute confidence that in the absence of a couple or three people to fill classes where needed, and the resultant lack of a decent scope in class offerings, GCC stands a good chance of failing entirely, as did the Chapman University extension schools in Arizona when the home campus in Orange, California imposed a hard nosed fill-it-or-forget-it policy. One day there were two campuses running, filled with students, offering a wide variety of classes, paying staff and instructors, and sending gobs of money back home to the main campus. A few weeks later it was all gone. I'd like to know how that solved anything.

It is almost inevitable that the same thing will happen here if the same policies are applied. The home owners in Rim Country are under no legal or moral obligation to have any kind of college — two year, four year, or graduate level. One way or another, the people you are talking about paid their own freight when they went to school. You start telling them they are going to have to carry the burden of education for a community college by paying excessively taxes to do it and they'll tell you to take a hike.

And why not? Why do people keep avoiding the truth? Why do we keep on accepting the fact that current Arizona law makes residents of Gila County second class citizens? Address the root problem! Where is the justice, or legal equity, under the system set up by the already existing community colleges? It's a a system intended to prevent any other community college from coming into existence to compete with them for the taxes the citizens of Gila County area paid!

That's where the real problem is. You want more money? How about getting back some of the taxes we already pay to the state — taxes which are then neatly siphoned off to other counties? Just go look at the numbers if you don't know what I mean. With proper funding GCC would have no need to worry.

Right now, GCC is an experiment, an attempt to break through an improper, and possibly illegal, attempt to slam the door shut to any community college other than those which originally existed. Go check your taxes; we are already paying for community colleges all over the state with our state taxes. Why should we pay for this one in addition? Why don't we get the same share back that any other county gets?

I think the move to keep the good will of the retirees is a wise and intelligent move. It will get us through a rough period until we can become a full fledged community college.

No support from seniors? No GCC! In this town, seniors ARE the town.

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Tom Garrett 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I was truly happy to read that GCC's decision to reinstate free classes for seniors and lower tuition rates for others kept our community college in the black.

The other approach? Raising prices and lowering service?

That's a good way to close your doors.

If people aren't coming to you at your current rates, what makes you think they will come to you if you raise your prices?

The bottom line?

At the end of the fiscal year GCC has a surplus of $500,000 to roll over into the next fiscal year.

Good news, isn't it?

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Pat Randall 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Tom, Are the HS graduates getting anything out of this except higher tuition to pay for the seniors lower tuition?

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Tom Garrett 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Pat, I'm happy to be able to tell you that HS graduates are paying less than before. This was a brilliant plan, one that followed the give-them-more-and-they-come-through-your-door practices of successful businesses, as opposed to businesses killed by bean counters. It has worked out to the financial benefit of ALL students.

Here's something you will enjoy reading:

In 2009, tuition was increased and free tuition for seniors was ended. As a result:

• By 2013, senior enrollments dropped from 1,162 to 359.

• High school enrollees dropped from 611 to 528.

• College age enrollees dropped from 779 to 588.

• Middle age enrollees dropped from 981 to 593.

• Total enrollment plunged from 3,533 to 2,068, just 58% of former enrollment

• GCC was in financial straits and not running a full slate of courses.

What you may have missed in the July 27, 2013 article is the fact that GCC does not operate solely on tuition; it receives state aid as well. I am greatly simplifying here for the sake of clarity, but that aid is determined by a formula based on the number of students, a formula independent of whether or not students are free or paying. The state provides $410 for each eligible student.

What it amounts to is this: Even though a senior pays nothing, if lowered tuition rates plus high enough enrollment brings in sufficient state aid to cover operating expenses, everyone wins.

At the time the proposal to lower rates and restore free senior tuition was made the higher rates and decreased enrollment had cost GCC $300,000 in state aid. GCC now a $500,000 surplus to roll over into next year's budget.

High school students, along with everyone else are paying less tuition.

Brilliant!

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