In these tough economic times, no one wants to increase costs. But with substantial reductions of nearly $2.2 million in state operating and capital improvement funding and limitations on property tax levies, the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board voted to increase tuition to $60 per credit, a $4 per credit increase, starting with the fall 2011 semester. NPC’s tuition is still projected to be the lowest per credit hour in the state.
The increase continues a trend started in 2007 to help compensate for reductions in state funding. With the elimination of state capital aid, NPC is now required to transfer $2 to $3 million, each year to purchase additional library resources, large capital items and to design and construct needed facilities.
District 4 Board member Dusty Parsons opposed the increase because revenues are currently exceeding expenditures. “Increasing tuition and taxes is not practical in this economy,” Parsons argued.
“Wise fiscal management by our staff puts us in the position to fund improvements the state no longer supports,” added Ginny Handorf. She supported comments made by Chairman Bill Jeffers from District 3 that steady increases are needed to insure the continued delivery of quality educational services in the future.
College President Dr. Jeanne Swarthout briefly outlined some of the major expenditures facing the college – increased costs related to accreditation, upgrades to the administrative computer system, relocation of the skills center and technology infrastructure from the former Hermosa campus in Holbrook and the impact of pending state legislation and federal regulations.
A.T. Sinquah, center, was honored by the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board for his service on the board from January 2007 to December 2010, representing District 2. A life-long educator, Sinquah said he enjoyed representing his constituents on the Hopi Reservation and would consider serving again once he "retired." "NPC provides an opportunity to the people to attend a community college within their district. I am proud that NPC can still provide these valuable services in times of budget cuts," Sinquah added. Recognizing his service were (left to right): Ginny Handorf, District 5; Daniel Peaches, District 1; Louella Nahsonhoya, District 2; Sinquah; Dusty Parsons, District 4; and Chairman Bill Jeffers, District 3. The certificate was presented during the board's regular monthly meeting March 15 in Holbrook.
Course Fees Approved
The board also adopted the proposed course fee schedule. Over 1,300 courses are listed in the current catalog, with approximately one-third requiring a course fee to cover instructional supplies, equipment maintenance or specialized tools.
In the Arts and Sciences Division, fees for one-credit Internet courses, such as Arizona and U.S. Constitution and Government will increase by 10 percent, to $55 per course. A fee has also been added to SPT 178, Stage Makeup, to cover costs of kits distributed to students.
In the Career and Technical Education Division, fees were increased for Administrative Information Services (AIS) and Business (BUS) courses to cover instructional supplies, such as CDs, and flash drives. CIS fees were increased to cover the costs of computer parts used in instruction. Some Fire Science (FRS) courses will see increases, while the use of more technology will allow reductions in other courses.
The largest increases were in the Heavy Equipment Operations (HQO) to more fully account for equipment maintenance and fuel costs. Revised courses are being added in the Industrial Maintenance and Operations (IMO) department, and Welding (WLD) saw increases due to raising prices for raw pipe used in the classes.
In the Allied Health and Nursing Division, fees for the Phlebotomy course doubled to $200, to help cover the cost for supplies used by students. Previously, local business partnerships had helped defray the cost of supplies. A full list of approved course fees can be found at: www.npc.edu/2011-12_general_fees.
Cosmetology Curriculum Changes
Changes to the curriculum for the Cosmetology program were also approved. The changes will bring the program into alignment with Arizona State Board of Cosmetology requirements for 255 contact hours of lecture/theory instruction and 1,345 hours of laboratory/clinical practice. Students seeking to complete the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree will now earn 68 credits. Those completing the revised 52 core credits will earn a Certificate of Proficiency (CP) and meet eligibility requirements for the state licensure exam. Those changes take effect with the fall semester.
Faster Internet Connections
Two contracts approved by the board will increase the speed of NPC’s connection to the Internet from 10 megabits per second (Mbps) from just one location, to 50 Mbps from two locations. This will result in a total of 100 Mbps of connectivity to the Internet. A three-year contract with CableOne for 50 Mbps will upgrade the existing connection from the White Mountain Campus for the same cost as the 10 Mbps connection provided by the current vendor. A five-year, grant-funded contract with Frontier Communications will add a second 50 Mbps “Point of Presence” at the Painted Desert Campus.
Together, the two connections will improve NPC’s ability to provide Internet-based instruction, especially to remote areas. Additional negotiations are underway to improve the connection speeds at both the Hopi and Kayenta centers, with those upgrades anticipated later this year.
Long-term Strategic Vision
Board members adopted a resolution supporting the Arizona Community Colleges: Long-Term Strategic Vision, developed over the past six months by the 10 Arizona community college districts. The Vision defines a common core of metrics and key indicators of progress toward three critical goals – access, retention and completion – to allow “Arizona’s community colleges, through a collaborative effort with education, business, and community partners, to significantly increase the number of Arizonans who achieve their postsecondary education and training goals, complete a degree or certificate, and/or transfer to a university.”
The Vision ensures consistent performance metrics and lines up data points with the universities and a number of initiatives on higher education, both in Arizona and at the federal level.
NPC plans to incorporate the state-wide vision into its own strategic plan, as there are shared goals and strategies, noted President Swarthout.
Board member Louella Nahsonhoya, a former Adult Basic Education coordinator for NPC and the Hopi Tribe, noted community colleges needed to stress career options with students in ABE programs.
President Swarthout responded that NPC was seeking a U.S. Department of Labor grant to integrate ABE into more Career and Technical Education programs. She also stressed the need to better align college prep programs with college programs. She also warned about a federal model to convert General Education Development (GED) programs to revenue-generating model. “This could greatly impact residents in our service area,” she noted.
2009-10 Budget Adjustment
The board reduced the 2009–10 budget by $9.388 million to reflect actual expenditures for the year. This adjustment reduces the impact of the state’s expenditure limitation and allows more flexibility in future years. The Annual Budgeted Expenditure Limitation Report (ABELR) was audited by independent auditors Heinfeld, Meech & Co. and showed expenditures were $1,307,817 below the statutory expenditure limitation. Actual expenditures for 2009–10 totaled $24,448,471.
An agreement to continue dual enrollment programs at Round Valley High School was also approved. In these programs, students earn both college and high school credits for advanced studies taught at the high school and meeting NPC course requirements.
During the board’s study session, Blaine Hatch, Vice President for Administrative Services, presented an initial budget analysis, discussed revenue trends, employee-related expenses and the financial impact of restoring the wage and salary schedules.
Hatch explained that employer costs for providing basic healthcare insurance is expected to increase 5.1 percent. State-mandated contributions to the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) by both the employee and employer will go up 0.9 percent.
“The total impact to employees will be a reduction in take-home pay,” noted Hatch. He also reviewed the Cost of Living Index increases in food (+2.1 percent) and fuel (7.3 percent) February 2010 to January 2011, the possible impact of the state delaying the fourth quarter state aid payment (due in April) and the proposed $2.2 million reduction in NPC’s state funding included in the Governor’s budget proposal. The board is expected to take formal action on employee wages and adopt a preliminary budget during its April 19 meeting.
President Swarthout also announced the appointment of Eric Martin as the college’s new liaison with the Higher Learning Commission. NPC staff members will be attending, and making presentations, at the HLC’s annual conference in Chicago, April 8–12, and will have the opportunity to get better acquainted with Martin, who replaces NPC’s former liaison, Dr. Mary Breslin, who is retiring.
Eric Bishop, who is co-chair of the Strategic Planning and Accreditation Steering Committee, distributed material about the HLC’s new accreditation criterion, available at www.ncahlc.org.
The next regular meeting of the board will be Tuesday, April 19, at the Tiponi Community Center’s Eagle Nest Conference room, 2251 E. Navajo Blvd. The regular meeting begins at 11 a.m., with a study session tentatively scheduled for 9 a.m.