It is important that I clear up some misinformation found in the Opinion section of March 21 and March 25. First, the college did not de-emphasize or eliminate the fine arts classes to focus on occupation-related programs. We have many of the same classes, with the same instructors who chose to continue to teach after the Eastern Arizona College contract ended. There are art courses for personal development, as well as courses which fulfill general education requirements for degrees. That has not changed.
The part that has changed is that the classes are no longer "free." Many seniors believe that the classes at the college were free or paid by federal grants. That is not the case.
Although seniors did not pay tuition from their pockets as they registered, they paid, as all Gila County taxpayers paid, by funding the "scholarship" line of the college operational budget. They paid a second time in the form of an out-of-county tuition charged by EAC. Then, it was a part of the state tax-supported reimbursement for enrollment.
Many students of various ages with low and/or fixed incomes are also attending college. They have to pay taxes on those incomes, and are trying to raise families. Like the seniors who are trying to have a better life through learning, their goals are to improve their lives through education. The college is trying to serve all the residents of Gila County in a fair and equitable way, and hopes to have many new learning opportunities available as the College grows.
Barbara Ganz, President, Gila County Community College District