I would like to respond to the "Young Minds need to be well rounded" letter printed on March 25, 2003. The letter had nothing to do with the problems confronting our local School Board by unfunded Arizona mandates. Our school board has a thankless and unappreciated job of providing our children with the best education and paying teachers what they deserve, with less and less money.
The letter focused on PCCC's policy to treat all students equally, including payment of tuition. EAC, which was run by Graham County, offered free classes to senior citizens. Their tuition was not paid for by a federal grant, they were paid by property taxes collected in Gila County, which went to Graham County. Graham County also collected additional funds from the federal government.
The use of Gila County property taxes by the contracted party to run the Payson college campus was one of the motives for seeking a more financially equitable contract for Gila County. Ron Christensen spearheaded an exhaustive search to achieve this goal. Pima County was selected because it offered more advantages at a lower cost for Gila County residents. I commend Ron Christensen, Lionel Martinez and Dr. Barbara Ganz for their hard work in striving to improve our local college. I am grateful for the excellent teaching staff and administration at PCCC. The teachers at PCCC are especially appreciated because of their interest and devotion to helping students succeed in their class. They are one of the unique benefits that Payson offers.
The fundamental purpose of a college is to educate. Students are provided with the opportunity to: obtain an Associate Degree, transfer to a University, earn a Certificate for specialized employment opportunities and continue learning for personal development.
If enrollment is down at PCCC because tuition is charged to all students, the fault belongs to those who feel they deserve more than other students. One could argue that students who have been paying tuition were being discriminated against strictly because they were not a senior citizen. Many programs exist to augment retired citizens' lives at no cost, such as Senior Circle and the Senior Center. Volunteering also provides personal edification, social interaction, and improvement in the quality of the volunteer's life.
Rather than pontificate on what we don't have, we need to be thankful that we do have a college campus that is beginning to offer a more diverse curriculum to try and meet the needs of the majority of Gila County residents.
Michele Knoell, Payson