For 45 years, the focus has been on Prescott to the detriment of the Verde Valley
Occasionally, a skeptic appears who questions the view that the Verde Valley is being underserved by Yavapai College. To this doubting Thomas, I say: “Just look at the facts.” If you do, you will find an unmistakable 45-year pattern of underservice. In fact, since the beginning of the County Community College system in the late 1960s, the goal has been to build a first-class community college in the Prescott area while simultaneously underserving the Verde Valley.
A combination of political domination, cynical public relations manipulation, and unimpeded opportunity have allowed Prescott to achieve the goal of creating a thriving community college climate on the west side of the county while quietly but effectively suppressing significant development in the Verde Valley. Along the way, the administrators have mined the Valley for excess property tax money while grabbing local student tuition and state aid to use on Prescott projects.
In the last decade, the administrators have reduced classes in the Verde Valley by around 80 percent, closed the Camp Verde campus, and attempted to close the Sedona campus. They have consistently built educational facilities and developed educational programs for Prescott area citizens to the exclusion of Verde residents. This pattern of underserving the Verde Valley continues to this very day as the analysis that follows makes so clear.
For example, the Prescott-based administrators have developed a terrific music program. The fall registration College catalog lists 87 separate courses of music instruction, and 16 areas of music concentration. However, of the 87 courses, 85 are taught only on the Prescott campus; two music courses exist at the Sedona Center for Arts and Technology campus.
The fall registration catalog also lists 18 Allied Health Services Classes; but only one of the 18 is offered on this side of the Mountain. There are 41 business administration classes offered. Seven of those courses located on the Prescott campus have an in-class opportunity; only one in-class opportunity exists on the Verde campus. The remainder are online courses emanating from Prescott (two from Chino Valley).
There are 15 nursing courses listed for the fall with six of them available on the Verde campus. However, the Prescott administrators have promised to move some of those remaining Verde courses to its side of the Mountain in the not-too-distant future.
There are 50 aviation courses listed with not a single one offered in the Verde Valley. The fall catalog lists 15 automotive courses, nine welding courses, 12 offerings in electronic technology, and 8 courses in video game development. Once again, not a single course is taught in the Verde Valley — and I could go on, and on, and on.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Over 200 high school students in the Prescott area are estimated to enroll this fall in vocational training classes at the Prescott CTEC campus. Some of them will seek an electric line worker certificate and almost immediately after completing the two-year course, they will be hired at a lucrative beginning salary. Not a single Verde Valley high school student will be enrolled this fall.
When you examine how the College has encouraged campus student organization development, you discover that there are 16 student organizations listed this year (spring, 2014) with 15 on the Prescott campus and one on the Verde campus. A decade ago, the Verde campus had 10 thriving student organizations.
Other than the two music courses offered at the Sedona Center for Arts and Technology, there are no credit courses offered at that facility this fall. In the past couple of years, the Prescott administrators successfully stripped the Center of its programs and courses including the film school, which was moved to Prescott.
They anticipated selling the Sedona property for a tidy profit and using the money to build another campus over there. They also anticipated continuing to receive about $6.6 million dollars annually in property tax support from the Sedona taxing district without a whimper in opposition to closing the campus.
However, an unimagined outpouring of outraged citizens from Sedona and the Verde Valley plus strong, educated political leadership in Sedona blunted the effort to sell the Sedona Center. Despite this setback, it did not dampen the College administrators’ enthusiastic determination to eliminate the for-credit classes being offered there.
STUDENT HOUSING, ATHLETICS, CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
Over the years, the College has built student housing, indoor swimming pools, tennis courts, athletic fields, a basketball arena, and a multi-million dollar performing arts center exclusively on the Prescott campus. These facilities and the programs associated with them are out of reach of most citizens in the Verde Valley.
Consistent with Prescott thinking, expending 97 percent of the $119 million 10-year 2014-2024 capital development on projects in the Prescott area is thought to be “serving” the Verde Valley. Apparently, 3 percent development (maybe less) is considered more than sufficient for Verde Valley residents.
These facts and many more are available to anyone willing to take the time to look for them. They provide overwhelming hard evidence supporting the view that now and during the past 45 years the Verde Valley has been badly underserved by Yavapai Community College. For those in the Verde Valley who are waking up to these facts, it is hard to believe that this has happened. The challenge is this: what do the citizens of the Verde Valley do about it?