By Nick Worth
A proposed two percent faculty pay hike was presented Tuesday to the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board Tuesday.
Northland Pioneer College Vice President for Administrative Services Blaine Hatch briefed the board on the ongoing budget development process, and guided them through first readings of the wage and salary schedule, and tuition and fee schedule.
Earlier in the meeting, Cynthia Hutton reported to the board that the faculty association is requesting a 3.5 percent salary increase.
Hatch told the board state funding is expected to decrease by $260,000 next year due to declines in both enrollment and a gap in the rural net assessed valuation average.
Board member James Matteson questioned Hatch about the budget figures.
“Given that the legislature is still in session, how accurate are these calculations?” Matteson asked.
“You can’t take it to the bank, but we try to be as accurate as possible,” Hatch replied. He went on to say he expects a statewide decline in enrollment in the coming year.
Hatch said the current year net assessed values for Navajo County total $845 million.
He told the board, they may have to look at an increase in the property tax rate from $1.48 to $1.66 per $100 of assessed value.
“That’s the maximum tax levy,” Hatch explained.
“Do you have an idea of the effect of the closings in Snowflake?” asked board member Frank Lucero, referring to the Catalyst Paper Mill closing. Hatch replied there was a 7.5 percent decline in assessed valuation from the closure.
“I did a rough estimate on the increased tax levy for my house and it comes out to about $14,” said Matteson. “That’s not even a lunch out.”
Hatch then told the board the largest portion of the general fund goes toward wages and benefits.
“Staff recommends a two percent salary increase,” Hatch said.
Board member Prescott Winslow asked Hatch if there were any new grants to be made available within the next 46 months, and Hatch said the Department of Education would soon announce a grant which would pay $650,000 per year for the next seven years, which would be routed to K-12 education.
“Is the grant about the money, or about building an enrollment pipeline?” asked Winslow.
Hatch said it was aimed toward building enrollment. He also noted NPC would have to compete for the grant and its award is not a sure thing.
He then told the board of plans for a tuition hike and said that in making the recommendation, he kept three things in mind, namely concern for the students, possible impact on enrollment and student retention rate.
“Our recommendation is to set the tuition rates for the next three years,” said Hatch. The recommendation is to raise tuition by $2 per credit hour per year for those three years for Navajo and Apache county students, and by $10 per credit hour for out-of-state students.
Hatch said tuition rates are currently set at $64 per credit hour for in-state students and that if the board decided to accept the proposed raise in rates, tuition would rise to $66, $68 and $70 per credit hour over the next three years.
The out-of-state rate would go from the current figure of $305 per credit hour to $315, $325 and $335 over the same period.
Board member Daniel Peaches asked Hatch how the raises would be applied to members of the Navajo Nation who live on the reservation in Utah.
“Members of the Navajo Nation who live on the reservation get the in-state rate, no matter what state they’re in,” said Hatch.
Hatch also laid out four different tuition proposals for the board to consider.
The first would offer students last 12 hours of classes before their degree at no tuition. It would be treated as a scholarship by application only.
The second would offer specific high school students seven hours of credits each semester at no tuition. This program would be by application only, and available only to qualified high school juniors and seniors with 3.0 grade point average.
The third proposal was to reduce tuition for summer session classes by 50 percent.
The fourth proposal was to establish a differential tuition rate for The Learning Cornerstone (TLC) of 50 percent of current rates.
In other action Feb. 18, the board:
* Heard a financial report from Hatch, who told the board that at the halfway point in the fiscal year, the college has recorded total year-to-date revenues of $12.5 million and recoded expenditures of $9.9 million in the unrestricted general fund. Hatch said the college should finish the year at 94 to 96 percent of the budget on expenditures.
He reported cash flows from all activities to be at $16.5 million and cash expenditures at $15.6 million for a net cash amount of $896,700.
* Heard a report from the faculty association representative, Hutton, who, in addition to requesting a 3.5 percent salary increase from the board, also asked for pay for driving time when traveling between classes.
Lucero asked Hutton if driving time was not already included in teachers’ pay, and was told by other board members and staff that it was not.
* Heard a report from Classified and Administrative Support Organization (CASO) representative Margaret White. White told the board successful fundraisers have allowed CASO to raise scholarship amounts from $500 to $1,000 for two students.
* Heard a presentation on the annual Skills USA competition from cosmetology teacher Barbara Hicks. Hicks told the board that Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology (NAVIT) students in cosmetology, fire sciences and welding compete annually in the competition.
* Heard a presentation on First Things First from Kate Dobler-Allen, the regional director for the Navajo/Apache Regional Partnership Council. She told the board the First Things First program is funded by tobacco tax revenue, and prepares children under five for education by focusing on social skills and health.
* Approved a change to the Computer Information Systems degree program by taking out a concentrated math course. Vice President for Learning & Student Services Mark Vest said the Math 121 course, which attempted to combine the Math 109 and Math 112 courses into one class, had a low pass rate and so was dropped from the degree program.
“We’re not doing the students any favors by offering a course they have trouble passing,” said Vest. He said students would now have to complete the 109 and 112 courses to get their CIS degree.
* Approved dropping a digital photography course from the requirements for the Graphic Design certificate of proficiency program.
* Approved a “wholesale revision” of the fire sciences program based on the recommendations of local partners. Vest said the curriculum would be changed to conform to national standards as set by National Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education model.
* Approved changes to the paramedic to nursing program, based on the recommendations of the State Nursing Board.
By Nick Worth