Feb 242012

By Teri Walker —

As Northland Pioneer College (NPC) prepares to begin its annual budget process, college staff members have secured permission from the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board to consider tuition and fee increases for the coming years.

At this week’s governing board meeting, Vice President of Administrative Services Blaine Hatch summarized three potential tuition increases of $2, $3 and $4 per credit hour.

Hatch explained that approximately $50,000 in additional revenue would be generated for every one-dollar increase in tuition, an amount that is relatively nominal in relation to other revenue sources for the college.

Board Chairman Bill Jeffers asked Hatch if he was leaning toward a particular amount for an increase. Hatch said, based on a consultation with student government representatives and his preference to focus on property tax revenues, he would gravitate toward the $2 increase.

“In the long run, it’s not going to make a big difference on the total revenue,” Hatch said. “I think we have a very good rationale for why we keep a lower tuition.”

Hatch said his staff has developed a tuition and fee schedule that would increase incrementally, be competitive in the community college market and give consideration to the impact on students.

While the proposed in-state tuition increases would be small, the college proposes more than tripling out-of-state tuition, from $100 per credit hour to $310 per credit hour.

Hatch said the increase would cover all of the costs associated with educating a student from out of state.

Proposed fee increases in specific program areas and courses may cause a bit more of a sting for students as the college strives to capture the actual costs of providing supplies and equipment for some courses.

The only increase in Arts & Sciences course offerings is proposed for Physical Geography, which would increase from $20 to $25 in 2012-13. All Administrative Information Services courses with current fees of $10 would be increased to $15. The same goes for all business courses except three, which already assess a $15 fee.

All cosmetology course fees would be increased from $40 to $50, and the fee for the wild land firefighter course would increase from $10 to $15. Two new courses in the fire sciences department, Managing Company Tactical Operations and Fire Service Communication, are proposed to come in with a $15 fee.

In the Nursing and Allied Health program, the EMT intravenous skills course fee will increase from $25 to $50, the Basic ECG & Pharmacy fees will increase from $10 to $30, and the fees for the Paramedic Training courses will grow from $600 to $700.

Heavy Equipment Operations course fees are proposed to double from $100 to $200 in 2012-13, with an anticipated additional increase to $300 for the 2013-14 school year. Hatch explained that the staged increases would result in students eventually covering the full cost of supplies and equipment for participation in the program. Currently, the fee covers only about one-third of the actual costs to put on the heavy equipment courses, with the bulk of the expenses attributed to fuel and equipment maintenance.

Finally, fees for some Industrial Maintenance and Operations courses are slated to double from $45 to $90 next year.

In his presentation to the board Hatch said, “Proposed course fee changes are not expected to generate additional revenue beyond the increased cost of course supplies, equipment maintenance and course-specific operation expenses.”

The board will be asked to approve the tuition and fee increases during its March meeting.

In other business, the board voted to reaffirm the college’s policies on academic freedom, and equal employment and educational opportunities.

The action was prompted by ongoing controversy surrounding NPC’s Theater Department related to concerns about the content of some of NPC’s theater productions and the management of the department.

In her presentation to the board, NPC President Dr. Jeanne Swarthout said, “Given NPC’s mission, vision and values, and the standards of accreditation and academic freedom, allowing any single point of view to control what the college does would be at odds with the institution’s responsibility to prepare its students to live in a world full of diverse views. There is no evidence to conclude that student enrollment in a course or a college program, earned grades or awarding of scholarships is in any manner based on any form of discrimination.

“As a response to community concerns, the following procedures are followed: performing arts productions with adult content will be disclosed to the purchasing public as appropriate, as has been the case for several years; potential performers, at the beginning of the audition process, have full disclosure of role content, as has been the case for several years; parental permission is now required, including full role disclosures, for performing arts participants under the age of 18.”

The board also voted to approve an expenditure of about $2.4 million to re-roof the college’s learning centers in Snowflake, Winslow and Show Low, along with an additional facility in Show Low, and to replace heating and cooling systems on the buildings. The board approved the purchase of two new vans for college use at a cost of nearly $57,400; and voted to spend up to $200,637.70, plus tax, to install security cameras for the college’s four campuses in Show Low, Snowflake, Holbrook and Winslow, and the Hopi and Whiteriver centers.

Referring to the security cameras purchase, board member Louella Nahsonhoya said, “It gives me a sense of relief that this is being done, especially for the Hopi Center. It’s been a concern of mine for quite awhile.

“Crime is really increasing, especially here on Hopi, and it really worries me,” she said.

Finally, Jeffers announced a community forum on potash mining will be held Wednesday, Feb. 29, beginning at 6 p.m. in the George Gardner Performing Arts Center in Holbrook. The event, being sponsored by the Holbrook Business Development Group, will include presentations from the heads of two mining companies exploring for potash development.

“This is a topic that’s important to our entire region,” said Jeffers. “It’s an opportunity to hear up-to-date information, and from the horse’s mouth, exactly what the situation is. And, hopefully, to dispel some rumors.”

The next regular board meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 19, at the Painted Desert Campus in Holbrook, located at 2251 E. Navajo Blvd.