Archive for Yavapai Community College


 Overall, it appears the College had $10,579,719 more to spend in 2017-18 that it did in 2008-09 and an overall student body taking accredited courses that had shrunk by almost 30%. 

The fiscal year for the College ended June 30, 2017.  This is the detailed information given the Governing Board about its financial and enrollment situation when it ended the fiscal year in June 2017.  It is worth reviewing as we close out the calendar year 2017.

  1. The College estimated in May it will lose an estimated $330,000 in 2017-18 state aid because of the decline in the number of students taking accredited classes. This estimate should change because student enrollment has leveled off.

  2. The aviation program, which has already lost more than a million dollars in tuition and fees over the past two years, will lose another $160,000 in 2017-18 because of the continuing decline in enrollment in that particular program. So far, there is no indication this estimate will change.

  3. County property taxes will not be increased in 2017. 2017 is the second year in a row the Governing Board has not increased the tax rate. Recall that a majority vote of three on this Board can increase the tax rate on the property taxes of Yavapai County voters. (And there is no oversight and no appeal.)

  4. Tuition was increased for 2017-18 by about 5%. This is far above local  inflation. The Governing Board has increased tuition in some form every year over the last decade. The tuition increases have far outpaced inflation every year.

  1. What is called the County “new-construction tax” will bring in about $680,000 in additional revenue to the College in 2017-18.

  2. When comparing student headcount from 2008-09 to 2015-16 (the last formal report from the College) there are 3,894 fewer students taking credit courses (14,139 vs. 10,245). This is a drop of 27.5% in student enrollment. The decline continued in 2016-17.  While the Governing Board received a prediction in May 2017 that enrollment would decline by 4% in 2017-18, it actually increased slightly.

  3. When comparing student tuition and fees 2008-09 to 2017-18 the College will be collecting $4,678,500 more in tuition and fees in 2017-18 than it did almost a decade ago despite the huge drop in student enrollment. ($6,927,300 vs. $11,605,800).

  4. When comparing primary property tax revenue from 2008-09 to 2017-18 the College will be collecting $8,683,119 more in property taxes in 2017-18 that it did in 2008-09 ($35,227,381 vs. $43,910,500). Almost all of the increase is used to support capital expenditures.  Traditionally, the College had to persuade voters to approve a General Obligation Bond before revenue was expended for capital improvements. The Bond was repaid by assessing a County-wide secondary property tax.  The College now uses primary tax revenue, which was once intended primarily for programs and staff salaries, for capital projects.  This keeps County citizens from asking questions about the projects; the process also gives the Administration almost total discretion to build and renovate whatever it desires  without justifying the project to the citizens (and the expenditure of their tax money) or  explaining the overall efficacy of the project to them.

  5. Note that in 2008-09 state aid accounted for $4,761,000 in revenue coming to the College. It is estimated that in 2017-18 the College will receive about $1,979,100 from the state of Arizona in total support. That is a difference of $2,781,900.

  6.  Overall, it appears that College will have $10,579,719 more in revenue to spend in 2017-18  that it did in 2008-09 and a student body taking accredited courses that has shrunk by almost 30% (using headcount) over the past decade.



McCasland consistently outvoted during workshop as she sought greater transparency and better understanding for citizens of the Governing Board process

The workshop held by the four Yavapai Community College Governing Board members on Monday, December 11 on the Prescott campus (Irwin was not present) was remarkable in the determination by President  Penelope Wills and Governing Board members Pat McCarver and Ray Sigafoos to keep Governing Board reporting standards as vague and abstract as possible. Deb McCasland fought a losing battle as she argued that the reporting provisions should be more transparent and provide greater detail so citizens and Board members could better understand and apply them.

The consultant hired by the Community College had rewritten many board policy statements associated with the goals that applied to President Wills. If adopted, the consultant’s suggestions would have provided greater clarity and understanding to Board members and the public. Consistently, McCarver, Sigafoos, and Wills vigorously opposed providing greater clarity. Third District representative Connie Harris joined with the West County representatives in opposing most of the clarifying statements. She showed little willingness to support McCasland’s effort to bring greater transparency and understanding to the Governing Board process.

The following is an example of a kind of clarity McCasland wanted. The suggestion came from the consultant and the discussion about it involved  the limitations on President Wills treatment of employees. The free speech provision read:

The statement was rejected as a provision to insert into the Governing Board governing process by Wills, McCarver, Sigafoos and Connie Harris. They claimed it was contained in summary fashion in a long, vague overarching statement made earlier during their discussion.


Exhibit by Nathaniel Foley on view until September 15

The Yavapai Community College Verde Valley Campus Art Gallery is  featuring an exhibit by Nathaniel Foley entitled, “flight of obscurity XII.” The Exhibit will be at the Art Galley until September 15.

The Community College describes the exhibit as sculptures “consisting of cones integrated with spires held together under tension, supported by utilitarian containers. This fragile relationship of forms exposes the delicate balance between grace and imminent danger, like the fleeting ballet of courting birds or hostile dogfight between foes. Referring to aeronautical form, the sculptures communicate tension and dance in direct opposition to fundamental forces.”

The Art Gallery is open from Tuesday through Friday from 10 AM to- 3 PM. It is closed Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The Gallery is located at 601 Black Hills Dr. F-105, Clarkdale, Arizona 86324.


Verde Valley and Prescott politicians dual to persuade the State Junior College Board each side has the “best” location

The Blog has attached a short essay that portrays the early political struggle between the Prescott and Verde Valley politicians over the location of the first Community College in Yavapai County. This was the first of many political confrontations between the two sides of Mingus Mountain over Yavapai community College.

The dispute began in 1965. Both sides recognized the significant impact of locating a community college in their community in terms of its economic impact and overall impact on the residents. As with almost all political battles over the past 50 years involving Yavapai Community College, Prescott came out the big winner.

The essay below is in PDF format and may be downloaded by you if you choose to do so.




College says enrollment was too low to open any of the courses

Verde Valley Executive Dean James Perey reported that he has been forced to cancel all hospitality certificate courses offered at the Sedona Center prior to the start of the 2017 fall semester. His report came during an interview with Zachary Jernigan, whose article about the Center appears in the August 30 2017 edition of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

Perry was quoted in the article as saying: “We need to regroup and evaluate what happened. … Look at our demographic and who to target.” Perry is also apparently considering partnering with Northern Arizona University’s hospitality program to align coursework at the Sedona Center with offerings at NAU.

Perry was also quoted in the article is saying that the College “can’t do this without business and industry … Partnerships” in the local community.

The Blog recommends a small blue-ribbon committee of Sedona business and political leaders be immediately assembled to help the College assess the reasons for the failure of this certificate program to obtain sufficient enrollment.


No formal explanation of absence from office March 21 to April 11

The cloak of secrecy around the whereabouts of Yavapai Community College President Penelope Wills from March 21 to April 11 is odd.  Staff, faculty and Board members either don’t know where she was or when asked refuse to disclose her whereabouts during that period or the purpose of her visit. 

Three sources have claimed to the Blog that she was in Auckland, New Zealand during a portion of that time. They also claim that Verde Campus Dean James Perey will visit New Zealand this summer–something about wine. 

It also seems odd that at neither the April nor May Governing Board meetings that Wills’ reported on the three-week absence from the District.  While her travel during the academic year is of little actual significance, the ability to cloak the travel and its purpose from the public illustrates the ease with which a bureaucrat paid about a quarter million dollars a year who runs a publicly financed entity can keep matters from the public.  The incident also illustrates the power Wills’ exercises over her subordinates to keep something as mundane as her travel from the public.   Obviously, this kind of behavior raises questions about what else is being kept from the public?


Hearing disability advocate questions absence of adequate facilities for deaf and hearing impaired

Hearing disabilities advocate Jack Clevenger asked the Governing Board to look into the situation at the Performance Hall for those with hearing disabilities.  Clevenger reminded the Board that the Americans for Disability Act requires facilities for the hearing impaired.  He also suggested that the 11,000 residents of Prescott with hearing impairment would begin considering attending concerts and other events if the facility fully complied with ADA.

The Board did not indicate it was going to put the issue on a future agenda. It was silent. (It might.)  Query:  Is the College in violation of the ADA?  Should the College be more receptive to persons with disabilities like Jack Clevenger? The Blog believes that President Penelope Wills should specifically address those concerns at the March Board meeting.

You may view Mr. Clevenger’s three minute presentation below.





No benefits to enclosing Center area

The Governing Board was told November 1, 2016 that Sedona residents oppose spending $1.7 million to enclose the outside area of the Sedona Center.  The dispute over spending this amount of money is between the College staff that wants the space enclosed and the citizens who do not.

money-flowing-like-water-3Citizens argued that the unnecessary expenditure and unnecessary enclosure will “irrevocably destroy the architecture of the building.” 

They also argued that for taxpayers of the County that the college is making an extremely poor financial decision. According to the taxpayers, enclosing the Center area increases by at least 40% the total cost of the culinary program. It does this without adding any programming or educational benefits to the students—young or old.

The video presentation made to the Governing Board on this issue can be viewed by clicking here.


Legislators writing guest editorial used faulty information

An editorial published in the Verde Independent on November 1, 2016 contained false and misleading information about Yavapai College’s commitment to the Verde Valley. Click here to read the editorial.  The editorial was allegedly authored by the two Arizona District 6 representatives, Bob Thorpe and Brenda Barton.

false-informationThe Blog suspects that they either did little or no research before they jointly authored the editorial or were intentionally provided misleading information by a source they thought they could trust.  Either way, the editorial was incredibly inaccurate.

In a letter to the Verde Independent of November 6, 2016, Mr. Paul Chevalier, the head of the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee that has studied the College’s commitment to the Valley for the past two years, commented on the lack of accuracy in the editorial allegedly written by Thorpe and Barton.  He wrote:


Re: Commentary by Reps. Bob Thorpe and Brenda Barton: This story sounds impressive but the facts are wrong and I wonder why the political authors didn’t do some fact checking before putting their names to it.

I chaired the recently shut down Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee for its full existence of just under two years. Our Committee, after much study, found very different facts from those quoted in the article above.

The facts we uncovered showed that, with the exception of a two-year period when extra money was used to finally remodel a decaying campus in Clarkdale, less than half the money annually paid a) by the taxpayers of the Verde Valley and b) by the students for tuition and fees for classes on the Verde Campus, are used in any way for the benefit the Verde Valley.

The 89-percent figure quoted by the authors was ONLY for those two years when the campus was significantly remodeled. The fact is the Verde Valley is Yavapai College’s major “cash cow.” They use our money on the other side of the mountain.

Secondly the $1.5 million quoted as required to create/maintain a separate administrative college is a number the College President came up with in response to a question at a DGB meeting without any kind of a study to back it up.

This is in contrast with what the public of the Verde Valley have requested several times, which is an independent study to determine the costs of having a separate administrative college for the Verde Valley.

This was requested some months ago by Al Filardo, who was our representative on the DGB (and just resigned in frustration), then it was again requested through our committee formally supporting Al’s request and, most recently, it was requested again through the Verde Valley Forum, NAU is equipped to do such a study but the College District Governing majority from the other side of the mountain has refused it.

People who write stories citing facts, especially politicians, should fact check with more than one source before putting their names to the story.

These facts are so incorrect that it feels like two good representatives have just been used by whoever gave them this misinformation.

They have a right to be upset.

Paul Chevalier

You may read Mr. Chevalier’s letter in the Verde Independent by clicking here



College spin-masters use OLLI to explain decline

OLLI is independent nonprofit Institute with separate governing committee

OLLI exists on Yavapai Community College because of a two million dollar grant that was given to the College to set it up.

The Community College spin-masters seem to be using OLLI as their next excuse for the loss of 6,000 students (by audited headcount) in the last decade.  They use it because few in the County understand how OLLI was created and what it does.  Here are the facts.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes are found on the campuses of 119 colleges and universities from Maine to Hawaii and Alaska. Each provides a distinctive array of non-credit courses and activities specifically developed for seasoned adults aged 50 or older who are interested in learning for the joy of learning. 

OLLI operates free of College direct interference. It is a self-directed membership organization within Yavapai College, which means it has a  Governing Council and its own curriculum, finance, long range planning, policies and procedures and social committees.

The OLLI administration receives operating income from the $2 million dollars Yavapai holds in trust for it.  OLLI faculty are not paid.  OLLI accepts donations that are tax deductible because its is separate from the Community College.  Students receive no college credit for attending an OLLI program and normally pay a registration fee for the program that goes toward operating OLLI. Students are 50 or older.

OLLI states that “We are a membership organization within Yavapai College, created to meet the needs and interests of local retirement-age people.” The OLLI program has a staff in Prescott and a separate staff in Sedona. According to OLLI, “Our learning groups are discussion groups conceived, created and facilitated by our own members, who volunteer their time. There are no tests, grades, or college credits associated with our groups. Our members are excited about learning and sharing knowledge and thoughts. They gain a great deal of satisfaction in the process of stimulating and stretching their mental capacities.”

In an article appearing August 18 in the Verde Independent (click here to read the article), it was suggested the decline in students at Yavapai College was because “students who only took non-credit courses five years ago are taking courses through the college’s OLLI [Osher Lifelong Learning Institute] program.” 

Because of OLLI’s mission (stated above), the above quoted statement is puzzling.  Moreover, because headcount is based on students taking credit classes, that has little to do with the student decline.  That decline was measured using credit courses–the original reason Yavapai Community College was created.