Next Step: Provisional College District

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Editor:

The exciting new partnership that Gila County recently has negotiated with Pima Community College District is just the first step in improving our post-secondary educational opportunities in Gila County.

We, at the Industrial Development Authority, are strong supporters of the county's vision because we believe better opportunities will mean more of our youth will be able to progress in their education after high school without leaving home. We look forward to a system with increased class offerings, better counseling services and greater retraining options for us older folks, too.

The second step toward this goal will be on the November general election ballot, when Gila County voters will be able to say, "Yes, we want local control of our post-secondary opportunities." The creation of a Gila County Provisional College District will mean that Gila County can keep $1 million that it now must pay other community college districts when a student goes to school outside Gila County's borders. A write-in candidate for supervisor made some erroneous assumptions in an article in The Silver Belt, Aug. 14, 2002. The elimination of out-of-county tuition will not increase the cost to parents or students who choose to attend classes in other districts. That's just plain wrong information. Arizona's community college system is reciprocal. That is, any county that has a community college system can send its students to another county's community colleges without paying out-of-county tuition. Gila County pays extra because we don't have a provisional college system.

We think it's also important to note that the ballot item will set the tax rate at 63 cents there will be no hidden tax increase, as the candidate also alleged.

The creation of the provisional community college district will allow us to set our own agenda for the post-secondary educational opportunities Gila County residents need. We'll be able to decide if we want to offer nurse training programs in the future and/or we think the job market needs more auto mechanics. We'll be able to work closely with high schools in Gila County to bring high school seniors into community college classes where appropriate.

We have a very exciting opportunity. We feel sure that if people just get the facts, they're going to be as excited as we are.

Fred Barcon, President, Gila County Industrial Development Authority

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