Still short a board member and now coping with the impact of a big tuition cut, the Gila Community College (GCC) board at its last meeting decided to join the Arizona School Board Association (ASBA) and increase payments to Payson for janitorial services.
Absent from the meeting, Globe member Robert Ashford.
“There is an urgency for a new board member to be present,” said Armida Bittner, one of the three board members from the Globe area.
Board President Larry Stephenson said Gila County Superintendent of Schools Linda O’Dell has not yet picked a new board member to replace Tom Loeffler, who resigned after the board voted to cut tuition rates overall and restore tuition waivers for seniors.
The district’s enrollment subsequently rose 15 percent, although its tuition revenues declined.
By law, O’Dell must find a replacement board member.
The lack of a board member has begun to hobble the district. At the Oct. 17 meeting, the three members present shelved approval of a lobbying contract until it has a full roster.
Yet, the board did unite to vote to join the ASBA.
“I hope we can gain consensus of the board to join the ASBA,” said Sam Moorehead. “As members, the board could go and receive additional training in open meeting law ... it’s an excellent source for school policies that we can tailor to fit GCC policies.”
Bittner supported Moorehead’s suggestion by saying she had been a member of ASBA for 16 years as the founder of a charter school.
“Premier is the word and leader is the word,” she said to describe the organization. “They just have so much that they clarify and advocate.”
The GCC board also voted to increase its payments for janitorial services to the Town of Payson through an intergovernmental agreement (IGA).
“This IGA supports our fire science program,” said Steven Cullen, dean of the college. “They found that the time they needed for janitorial services increased the amount they needed to ask for ... you know, kids will be kids, I think what is being asked for is reasonable (and) NAVIT will split the cost.”
The contract with Payson will shift from a flat $2,500, to a sliding scale based on enrollment. If one to 15 students enrolled, the cost would go to $5,000. If the numbers increased to between 16 and 21 students, reimbursement went to $6,500.
“This is not the invention of a new wheel,” said Moorehead. “This IGA has been in affect before.”
The board approved the increase unanimously.
But the board members also listened to a financial report that stated revenues from tuition have fallen 15 percent below projections. Meanwhile, the number of seniors seeking free classes has doubled.
“We know enrollment is up, but does that mean only our seniors are enrolling or are we getting younger students as well?” asked Moorehead. “That would be important information to show that we are being responsive to the public’s question and my own.”
Cullen said he is in the process of compiling a list based on the demographics of students enrolled.