Dr. Daniel Corr, the President of Arizona Western College, gave an update on the status of the college to the La Paz County Board of Supervisors at their May 17 meeting. He said the college district board would not be approving their budget for fiscal year 2020-21 until June. He said they didn’t want any surprises in funding from the state legislature coming after they approve the budget.
“We want to see what the state does,” Corr said.
Corr said enrollment is down considerably due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the college is reorganizing to meet the current and future needs of the communities they serve.
As for the budget, Corr said the college is not anticipating a property tax rate increase for the coming fiscal year, and added the district will be five years without a property tax rate increase.
“We start the budget process with the premise there will be no property tax increase,” he said.
According to FY 2021 Baseline Book from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the figures for 2019 showed the college had a primary property tax rate of 2.22 percent of $100 of net assessed value and a secondary property tax of 0.35 percent of $100 of net assessed value. The total tax rate is 2.57 percent.
The highest total property tax rate for a community college in Arizona is Graham County at 3.33 percent.
Property taxes are the largest source of revenue for the college. In 2020, the FY 2021 Baseline Book said AWC received $35.9 million in property taxes. Other revenues included $25.1 million in grants, $13.1 million in tuition and fees, and $3.4 million in state aid.
Primary property taxes are used to pay for general expenses for the college. Secondary taxes are used to pay for special expenses, like bonds.
The college’s enrollment was down by 13 percent for the fall 2020 semester, and by 17 percent for the spring 2021 semester. He stated AWC was not alone in facing declining enrollment, and they were close to the average for colleges and universities across the nation.
Corr said the college has been reorganizing to meet this declining enrollment, as well as meeting the needs of the communities they serve. Among other things, they have re-worked their career-technical education programs to focus on state certifications for trades.
“We’ve reorganized ourselves to meet the needs of the future,” he said.
Corr spoke about some of their programs that directly affect students in the community. He said Parker High School has the highest dual-enrollment with the college of any high school in their district. Students can take college-level courses towards their Associates Degree while still in high school. Tuition for these classes is $25 per credit hour.
As for vocational training, Corr spoke of the AWC Law Enforcement Academy. He said this academy provides training and certification for local law officers at a fraction of the cost of sending them to Phoenix for training.
Corr also spoke of the La Paz Promise Program. He said this allows students in La Paz County to have their tuition and fees fully refunded if they meet certain criteria when they earn their degrees. The program was recently expanded to include Yuma County as well. For more information on this and other AWC programs, go to www.azwestern.edu.
Arizona Western College is the community college district for La Paz and Yuma Counties. In La Paz County, they have learning centers in Parker and Quartzsite.