Small Town News


College funding drawing criticism from Verde Valley

Cottonwood Journal Extra of Cottonwood, Arizona

- Advertisement -

The disparity of distribution of tax funds for Yavapai College has caused some taxpayers to say enough.

"Virtually everyone recognizes that as long as Yavapai College is operated primarily from Prescott, there will be little or no serious development in the Verde Valley," stated Bob Oliphant, of the Verde Valley Community College Citizen Advocates.

"By the end of this fiscal year, at least $20 million will have been spent on renovation, improvements and new projects on the west side of the county," Oliphant added.

"Among the projects over there are these: $ 1.3 million for a professional tennis complex has been completed, when the college has no tennis team nor serious tennis program. At least $5 million has been spent to provide better seats, restaurants and turn the 1,105-seat auditorium into a dinner theater. No other community college in Arizona has used taxpayer money to create such a facility."

Yavapai College President Penelope Wills did not respond to requests for comment, despite several phone calls and her office's confirmation of receipt of an emailed list of questions.

As Yavapai College nears the beginning of another semester, the grievances lodged by Oliphant and fellow Verde Valley Community College Citizen Advocates organizer Ruth Wicks are legion. They and their sympathizers have been vocal enough to, according to Wick, shock the college's governing board into telling "half truths" about the situation. As a result, she and Oliphant began publishing their own reactions via blog.

"Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on concrete bleachers in center field of the baseball park on the Prescott campus," Oliphant continued. "About $11 million was just spent to improve the Career and Technical Education campus — a campus that is challenging to reach from the east side of the county and a campus where no high school students in Sedona or the Verde Valley can attend classes. However, high school students on the west side of the county are filling seats at the CTEC campus at a record rate.

"On this side of Mingus Mountain, the college has announced it is spending a minuscule $33 million of the $84 million budget by leasing space from Camp Verde High School for an eight-credit 'fundamental' culinary program. It is also offering as new programs a Hotel/Restaurant Management Certificate and an Enology Certificate. Neither program will cost the college any significant money. Neither will require a capital infrastructure investment and they will use existing classrooms and facilities."

Meanwhile, Oliphant stated, the west side of the county continues to move forward to develop and innovate their own resources.

"The college has decided to annually subsidize the line worker program to the tune of $200,000, a program only west county high school students may take. It is offering almost 100 music courses on the west side of the county; four on the east side. It is moving quickly ahead on renovating and building a $5.5 million fine arts center."

According to Oliphant and Wicks, there are also few for-credit courses currently scheduled for the Sedona Center. No written strategic plan has been created for the development of either the Sedona Center or the Verde campus.

"The west side of the county controls the governing board as evidenced by the June 3-2 vote on increasing property taxes, with the east county representatives arguing for no tax increase," Oliphant stated.

"It is clear that the west side of the county intends to do as little as possible for the east side of the county when it comes to serious development. It will sprinkle a few projects over here to keep the residents from a full-scale revolt. However, they will be minuscule when compared to the enormous development on the west side of the county."

For more information on these and related matters, visit Oliphant and Wicks' blog at eyeonyavpai

Zachary Jernigan can be reached at 282-7795 ext. 125 or

"As Yavapai College is operated primarily from Prescott, there will be little or no serious development in the Verde Valley."

Bob Oliphant

Verde Valley Community College Citizen Advocates

Copyright 2015 Cottonwood Journal Extra, Cottonwood, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: July 15, 2015

More from Cottonwood Journal Extra