Jun 202014

By Linda Kor

The Navajo County Community College District Governing Board approved the annual contract Tuesday for Northland Pioneer College President Dr. Jeanne Swarthout. The contracted salary is $165,388, which includes a two percent increase approved for all college staff. Swarthout’s salary remains the lowest among the state’s community college presidents.

The board also reviewed a new joint endeavor between NPC and Northern Arizona University regarding the NPC nursing program. The new program allows NPC nursing students to earn the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in conjunction with the Associate of Applied Science program so that students who wish to be aggressive in obtaining their bachelor’s degree may do so in two years rather than four. The two programs have been designed to work hand in hand so that course times will not conflict and many theory courses can be taken online. “This is a great opportunity, but it will be a very challenging program and won’t be for all students,” stated Swarthout.

The board also approved a new intergovernmental agreement with Apache County for services, even though questions remain on the agreement itself.

Apache County Superintendent of Schools Barry Williams, who also serves as president of the Apache County Higher Education Committee, was present at the meeting and informed the board that there were some items in the agreement that the committee still wanted to discuss. One issue is that the committee would like the agreement to be year-to-year agreement, rather than a two-year agreement. In addition, the committee would like clarification on some of the verbiage within the agreement. Another issue he noted was that the committee had requested information regarding how many students were enrolled in each course, and that information had not yet been received. “We would like to have the data to see what our students are doing. We want to make sure that we are offering what our students need for services, and we haven’t gotten that yet,” explained Williams.

The board considered tabling the agreement until the issues could be resolved, but decided that there was really no value to postponing the vote. “It states in the agreement that we can negotiate in good faith until July 20,” explained NPC Vice President for Administrative Services Blaine Hatch.

Board Chairman Ginnie Handorf asked if this had anything to do with funds that were not being received in a timely fashion from Apache County for services.

Williams admitted that was a concern, noting, “Sometimes we feel like we get blindsided by fees that are not part of the budget process. We still have some unresolved issues.”

Hatch added that the contract does include annual evaluations that can modify the monetary amounts. “We need to make certain that no Navajo County tax dollars are being used (in Apache County), he explained. “Each year the amounts are different.”

“I’m not saying that we are not willing to pay the contract. We are looking to continuing with the college; we have a significant investment with NPC,” clarified Williams.

The agreement states that Apache County will pay the college district a sum of $600,000 per year for services for each of the next two years, with the amount to be paid in two installments of $300,000 for each year. An additional $159,000 for each academic year will also be added as compensation for the NPC/Apache County coordinator and for the purchase of equipment. The contract also notes that at the end of each fiscal year the parties will conduct an analysis of the programs and services, along with associated costs provided under the agreement; and by the end of February of each year, the district will provide the county with an estimated analysis of services delivered and costs incurred to date, and an adjustment to the amounts received from the county, or if funds would need to be reimbursed.

Handorf said she saw little reason to table action on the agreement. “We have already signed contracts (for instructors) and we are offering courses in the fall, that won’t be changing,” she said.

With that, the board voted unanimously to approve the agreement with Apache County and to discuss any requests for modification presented by Williams prior to July 20.

In other action June 17, the board:

* Approved a $149,487 contract with ACE Asphalt of Arizona for parking lot pavement projects at five locations, including the Holbrook, Winslow and Snowflake campuses, as well as the Whiteriver and Hopi centers.

* Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology for an amount totaling $995,437 for the coming fiscal year.

* Approved a $73,500 contract with DLR Group, Inc. for design, contract documents and construction administration services for the replacement of the roof and roof top mechanical units on the Blunk building at the Little Colorado Campus in Winslow and the Whiteriver Center.

* Approved pavement improvements to the Northern Arizona Training Center, including crack sealing and a fog seal. The track and parking lot will also be re-striped by Hatch Industries for a total cost not to exceed $35,000.