Well, it is not exactly the declaration of independence, but we’re still encouraged by the latest word out of the task force trying to finagle a way for Gila Community College to slip its shackles.
Initially, we were worried that Sen. Sylvia Allen was just playing politics with the hopes of the advocates of a healthy, independent vital community college.
The Snowflake lawmaker does represent district five, which includes Rim Country — but she didn’t seem to show too much interest in the outrageous plight of GCC until Safford Rep. Bill Konopnicki decided to run against her in the Republican primary. Konopnicki has been publically dismissive of the odds GCC will ever win independence, which seems suspicious since he’s so closely linked to Eastern Arizona College, which has benefited from its blatantly unfair, sweetheart contract to run GCC.
However, with help from GCC Board Member Tom Loeffler and others, Allen has worked hard at coming up with a politically viable solution that will treat GCC taxpayers and students fairly.
Allen’s task force already has been discussing some creative ways to confer independence, without creating big budget problems. Even making GCC eligible for smaller pots of money like work force development could provide a badly needed budget boost.
Voters would likely approve any creation of a new district, along with a new board with fair boundary lines based on the latest census information. Such a board would finally gain control of the program and hopefully give the public the confidence to raise the current 53 cents per $100 property tax rate, which currently ranks as the second lowest in the state.
So we applaud the advocates of a fair and dynamic community college system here for their persistent and creative efforts on behalf of this community.
It may not rank alongside the “shot heard round the world” on the Concord green, but it’s certainly worth a happy toast and rising hope.