Once again, Gila Community College (GCC) attended an Arizona Association of District Governing Boards annual meeting, only to discover that as a provisional district it still can’t get no respect.
“We were once again invited as a provisional district to this meeting,” said GCC Board President Larry Stephenson at a GCC board meeting last week. “It was kind of enlightening, we found out we are definitely second class citizens and I’m not sure all the colleges wanted us there. We raised some questions.”
Stephenson and the board secretary Sam Moorhead both attended the meeting in Phoenix.
Moorhead admitted he asked the uncomfortable question.
“The question I raised was the request to the governor for new money; $1.5 million. It would be up to EAC to decide if Gila Community College got any of those funds,” he said. As a provisional district, GCC must rely on EAC’s accreditation and contracts with the Safford district to administer its programs.
Eastern Arizona College (EAC) and other rural districts get extra “equalization” funding denied to GCC. Those rural district have asked the governor to restore funding slashed by the Legislature during the budget crisis.
But GCC is an adopted child of EAC and pays EAC about $1 million annually for administrative services. Most of the key GCC employees actually work for EAC.
Board member Armida Bittner said she hopes things will eventually change.
“We need to be diligent, not only to show what we are doing, but to show the good example we are setting. We just keep knocking on the door,” she said.
Soon GCC will have that chance. Stephenson ran through a litany of documentation the state board requires of any community college in order to gain the accreditation to run its own programs with classes that will transfer to other schools. Right, now GCC must rely on EAC’s accreditation.
To win its own accreditation, GCC will have to show the enrollment numbers from the last two years, prove its legal status to teach in Arizona, document the school has a substantial presence in Arizona, present its mission statement, hand over audits, catalogs, job descriptions and provide a list of board member biographies along with other documents.
The board has spent months missing a member, ever since Tom Loeffler resigned last summer citing frustration with the board’s decision-making processes. But Stephenson committed to finishing up the accreditation document collection by March.
“I believe there is urgency here to get something accomplished,” said Bittner in agreeing to the date. “We will learn more and maybe clarify. I would hope we would be able to finish this by March.”