Fifteen minutes after the Gila Community College governing board meeting was to start Tuesday, two members were still missing.
The chairs for Tom Loeffler and Larry Stevenson sat empty in a Payson campus meeting room as a half-dozen citizens filed around the room.
In Globe, the rest of the board and staff waited.
With considerable new business to cover, from board policies, budget concerns as well as establishing a meeting schedule, it was a surprise Loeffler was absent, especially since
he had put two of the items on the agenda.
Loeffler later explained he did not attend because he had not received a complete meeting packet. Information did not arrive at his home by mail until afterward. Stevenson was out of town on business.
“I cannot go to a meeting and vote on them without seeing them,” he said. “I believe a board member should come prepared.”
With Loeffler and Stephenson absent, the board decided not to act on new business.
When the board will hold another meeting is unknown, but they have to act quickly.
By June, the board needs to establish a new budget and with a painful drop in revenue expected, this could affect class sizes, tuition and staff.
“We should have a work session to work on budget concerns before our next meeting,” Loeffler said. “Then we can come into the next meeting with a united front.”
Staff at GCC Tuesday said they were worried about the upcoming budget and anxious for a decision. Already one part-time janitor has been laid off.
Besides budget concerns, the board still needs to iron out new policies and procedures.
While the board could have passed the new polices without Loeffler and Stephenson present Tuesday, they decided to wait on new business until all were present.
“I think this is an excellent idea because it gives us all time to express our opinions on how the college should move forward,” said member Armida Bittner.
By contrast, in December the board went ahead and erased all its policies and procedures although Loeffler and one other board member were absent.
The move allowed board president Bob Ashford to run for a sixth term. Loeffler and Stephenson objected to the decision and have since contacted attorneys in the Valley to see if the board is violating state law.
Just after the board’s last meeting in March, Loeffler asked attorney Bryan Chambers, with the Gila County attorney’s office, to investigate whether the repeal of the rules and procedures violated state law. Besides allowing Ashford to run again for president, Loeffler believes the board breached half a dozen state statutes when it did not replace the old policies with new ones.
Loeffler hopes at the next board meeting Chambers will present his findings.
With all new business on hold, the board went ahead and approved old business, including a resolution to join a technology consortium. The move gives GCC a cheaper rate on Internet access and extra bandwidth.
At the March board meeting, the governing board did not vote on the issue because they did not have enough members present. At the time, however, the majority of the board expressed support for the State of Arizona-Counties Communication Network, or SACCNet. The goal of SACCNet is to expand broadband access to all rural communities, said Gila County Superintendent of Schools Linda O’Dell. This includes public safety, community institutions, county governments, state agencies, libraries, schools and health care organizations.