Despite cost saving moves including reducing staff, closing campuses and eliminating programs, officials with Coconino Community College (CCC) still need to find ways to save money over the long term.
A combination of state budget cuts and limited revenue sources has prompted CCC President Dr. Leah L. Bornstein to ask community leaders to examine the college's finances and make recommendations to address the college's future financial plans.
A citizens' review panel has been studying the college's finances in a series of meetings.
Beginning in 2008, the college identified more than 100 cost-savings initiatives designed to cut nearly $4 million from its budget. CCC reduced staff by 15 percent, eliminated some certificate and degree programs, implemented energy saving initiatives, and most recently closed the Williams campus. At the same time, the college raised student tuition to protect essential programs and services or students.
"The measures have so far helped us survive the recession and state aid cuts, but are just not sustainable long term," said Jami Van Ess, CCC vice president for business and administrative services. "Deferring maintenance of buildings and cutting back on staff and faculty eventually takes its toll."
The options the panel considered include raising tuition in the future and eliminating more programs. Ultimately, the panel examined asking voters for a seven-year property tax override, the college's only other revenue option beyond further raising tuition, which is already the highest in the state.
The panel will present its preliminary recommendations at a series of community open house events. The panel hopes to gather comments from Coconino County residents on the recommendations and the college's situation.
The first open house is from 4-7 p.m., May 1 at the CCC Lone Tree campus, 2800 S. Lone Tree Road.
The college will also put on open house events at the former CCC campus in Williams, 636 S. 7th St., and at the Page/Lake Powell Campus, 475 S. Lake Powell Blvd. in Page from 4-6 p.m. Thursday.
After the open house events, the panel will develop its final recommendation for Bornstein and present that recommendation at the May 28 CCC District Governing Board meeting at 5 p.m. at the CCC Lone Tree campus. The governing board will review and discuss the recommendations at its May meeting.
All governing board meetings are open to the public and the college encourages the public to attend.
"The panel is doing an outstanding job, carefully considering our situation, there was an excellent dialogue and lots of tough, probing questions. The panel's preliminary recommendations are based on careful consideration of all the facts," Bornstein said.
Members of the Citizens' Review Panel include:
Chris Bavasi, former Flagstaff Unified School District Board member;
Richard Bowen, director of Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona;
Coral Evans, Flagstaff City Council member;
Brynn Johns, O&M Manager of Cost Services at Salt River Project-Navajo Generation Station, Page/Lake Powell;
Mandy Metzger, Coconino County Board of Supervisor for District 4;
Eva Putzova, director of Institutional research/policy analyst for Northern Arizona University;
Leroy Shingoitewa, Hopi Tribe Chairman; and
Russ Yelton, president/chief executive officer of Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (NACET).
CCC is an educational institution based in Flagstaff, Ariz. that provides more than 60 certificate programs and two-year degrees in various fields including nursing, fire science, law enforcement and child development. Established in 1991, CCC has served the residents of Coconino County for more than 20 years.
CCC operates three campuses -Flagstaff Lone Tree Campus; Flagstaff Fourth Street Campus and Page/Lake Powell Campus - and also offers classes in Fredonia, Grand Canyon/Tusayan and Tuba City. The college offers campus, online and interactive TV courses, most of which are transferable to four-year universities. More information is available at www.coconino.edu.