HOLBROOK — The Navajo County Community College District Governing Board voted not to increase property taxes by the maximum two percent allowed by state law; instead choosing to limit the district’s levy increase to the amount associated with new construction.
The decision came following formal public hearings on May 15, where only two comments, received via Northland Pioneer College’s website, voiced opposition to increasing property taxes to fund the college’s proposed budget. The board initially was split on approving the proposed maximum property tax levy and rate, with members James Matteson and Daniel Peaches in favor and Derrick Leslie and Frank Lucero in opposition. Member George Joe was absent. Leslie then proposed going with the Truth in Taxation (TNT) rate of $1.8164 per $100 net assessed valuation, an increase of less than 1 cent. Only Matteson opposed the second motion.
College officials had developed the proposed FY18-19 budget based on the assumption, approved by the board in December, that property taxes would be levied at the maximum amount, a two percent increase in the levy plus an adjustment for valuation of new construction. Adopted as the preliminary budget at the board’s April meeting, the proposed budget was posted to the college’s website and published in local newspapers prior to the public hearings. State law allows reductions, but no increases, to the adopted preliminary budget.
The board’s decision to go with the lower tax rate and subsequently reduced levy will shrink the FY 18-19 budget by $300,872. The reduced general fund and capital improvement budgets will be presented for adoption at a special board meeting on Tuesday, June 5. State law requires the budgets to be adopted prior to June 20.
The only action item during the board’s regular meeting on May 15, was the renewal of the annual maintenance contract for the college’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Jenzabar, which provides the backbone for its student information system.
The board recognized Show Low dentist Dr. Chet Adams as the Spring 2018 Outstanding Alumnus. Adams commended the board for having a passion for NPC students and our communities. “I received a phenomenal education at NPC,” he said. | Read more about Dr. Adams at www.npc.edu/alumni.
“Our successful golf tournament on April 28 raised about $7,000 for student scholarships,” said Betsyann Wilson, executive director of NPC Friends & Family, during her monthly report to the board. Mary Koury has taken on the role of president of the nonprofit alliance, with Terry Shove as vice president and Claude Endfield as secretary.
On May 11 Wilson conducted a scholarship workshop with Phi Theta Kappa chapter president Amanda Hatch, who gave participants a student’s perspective on the scholarship application process. Hatch, who received an All-Arizona Academic Team Tuition Waiver to complete her bachelor’s degree, also was a National Coca-Cola Foundation Silver Scholarship winner. Wilson plans to record a future scholarship workshop to share with students who are unable to attend one of her free live workshops.
Promotion has already begun for the Second Annual Scholarship Disc Golf Tournament, August 11, at the Four Seasons Course in Snowflake. “The towns of Snowflake and Taylor each contributed $1,000 to the pro purse to help make this a destination event, like our successful Pedal the Petrified fundraiser, to bring more visitors to the area,” added Wilson.
Faculty Association President Pat Lopez gave her final presentation to the board. She will be on sabbatical in the fall, doing some special projects at Petrified Forest National Park. Lopez introduced Frank Pinnell, chair of the welding and automotive programs, and SkillsUSA regional coordinator, who highlighted the success of program graduates.
“52 welding students achieved national certifications, with 24 receiving their associate degrees at last Saturday’s commencement,” explained Pinnell. “Of 18 automotive graduates, 12 already have jobs lined up.” When asked about the placement rate for graduates, Pinnell replied, “98 to 99 percent, with many of the welders getting jobs paying $16 to $25 per hour.” Many of the students have to leave the area for jobs but are highly sought after by industry recruiters.
At this year’s statewide SkillsUSA competition, 12 NPC/NAVIT students received gold medals and will be competing at the national event in Louisville, Kentucky in June. Pinnell recognized the community effort involved in preparing these students for the SkillsUSA competitions, where they demonstrate their skills, pride and leadership.
Dr. Michael Solomonson reviewed the evidence being gathered to show how NPC evaluates and improves teaching and learning. Part of the college’s preparation for its November 2019 accreditation process, the Criterion 4 Report references the numerous reports and handbooks used to guide instruction, plus the annual assessment of student knowledge used for general education courses and the program learning outcomes being developed for direct-to-work career programs.
A steady decline in interest in the Education profession, plus changes in initial certification and continuing education requirements for teachers, has impacted enrollment in the college’s education program, noted Mark Vest, vice president for Learning and Student Services, during a presentation on the program review for Education and College and Career Preparation (CCP) programs. “Curriculum is being updated to meet emerging trends and requirements,” Vest noted.
Adjustments to the college’s placement process, combined with changes in the curriculum, resulted in fewer students in the adult basic education and developmental courses offered by CCP. “The new curriculum is moving students faster into regular general education courses. This was reflected in the need to hire additional math faculty this past year.”
Randy Hoskins, welding faculty and co-chair of the Strategic Planning and Accreditation Steering Committee (SPASC), reviewed the progress made on strategic priorities of removing barriers to student success and reorganization within the committee. This spring, fuel stipends and even the use of college fleet vehicles helped students from center locations attend classes required for their degrees at campus locations.
These and other barriers to student success are being evaluated as part of the Enrollment Management Plan. Work continues on improving both internal and external communication through the college’s website and MyNPC student/employee portal. The committee is also reorganizing, with the chair rotating between faculty and staff members, and executive team members serving in advisory roles.
Retiring President Dr. Jeanne Swarthout urged the board to continue working with Navajo County on legislation to mitigate the impact of the loss of property tax revenue based on the predicted Cholla Power Plant closure.
The next regularly-scheduled board meeting will be Tuesday, June 19, at 10 a.m. in the Tiponi Community Center on the Holbrook – Painted Desert Campus, 2251 E. Navajo Blvd. Copies of the agenda will be posted online at least 24 hours in advance.
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