Sen. Sylvia Allen will head a new task force aimed at moving Gila Community College into a fully-fledged college.
“This provisional designation was meant to be temporary, and it’s now been 15 years,” said Allen in a press release. “It is time to make them an independent community college.”
Gila County’s population and tax base fall beneath legislative thresholds, prohibiting it from operating a community college.
Gila college contracts with Eastern Arizona College for academic and administrative services. Gila advocates say the operating agreement awards Eastern too much power with too little oversight, and are working to either renegotiate the contract or allow Gila County to operate an independent college.
Senate President Bob Burns named Allen as the task force’s head.
“I think this is great news and it’s going to allow a comprehensive review of the statutes and the possibility of Gila County having its own community college,” said board member Tom Loeffler.
Allen added, “We want GCC to grow, and it’s important to have local control. Making it independent will also really reduce overhead expenses,” said Allen.
Gila college currently pays Eastern 25 percent overhead on all expenses — from salaries to computers.
“This is much more than a Gila County issue,” said Allen. “What this task force will do will affect any future community college, and will have a strong positive impact on rural Arizona and education.”
The task force will include members from the college, the county school district and other community leaders. The first meeting is set for late May.