Maricopa Community Colleges: Flush with cash and hungry for more

by Jonathan Butcher
Goldwater Institute

Pop quiz: what institution has 460 employees making over $100,000 per year, 38 of whom received raises of $10,000 or more between 2008 and 2010? Maricopa County residents should know, they paid for it—and now they are paying even more.

The giant sucking sound you hear is from the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), one of the nation’s largest—and arguably most bloated—community college districts. While Arizona has lost over 300,000 jobs since 2007, the MCCCD has turned requests for property tax and tuition increases into an annual event. College leadership has requested property tax increases each year since 2005, while requesting tuition increases in six of the past seven years.

On Tuesday, by a 4 to 1 vote, MCCCD’s governing board approved a 3 percent hike to county residents’ primary property tax bill, bringing the total college tax bill for a $100,000 home to over $120.

As student enrollment has climbed steadily in the past decade, the college district’s spending has exploded. This year total spending hit $1.6 billion, reports Goldwater Institute investigative journalist Mark Flatten. Flatten’s latest, “Schooled in Obstruction: Maricopa Community College Staff Blocks Cost-Cutting Reforms while Pushing Tax and Tuition Hikes,” reports how Chancellor Rufus Glasper’s leadership has turned MCCCD into a serious financial drain on county residents.

“I have found no policies that specifically limit the Chancellor’s authority” over personnel decisions, wrote Glasper in an email uncovered by Flatten. “Staffing is a means not an end, and means are my prerogative.” Someone should ask what the “ends” are, and who is responsible for them, because the average completion rate for full-time students in the Maricopa system is 19 percent, below even the disturbingly low national average of 21 percent.

County residents should not fund MCCCD’s bloat any longer. The MCCCD board should pass a multi-year moratorium on any tax increases, and Arizona legislators should explore ways to break the district into smaller, independent community colleges to promote competition and more efficient use of tax dollars.

Jonathan Butcher is education director for the Goldwater Institute.

Learn More:

Goldwater Institute: Maricopa County Community College District Calls for Tax and Tuition Increases while Blocking Cost-Cutting Reforms

Goldwater Institute: Schooled in Obstruction: Maricopa Community College Staff Blocks Cost-Cutting Reforms While Pushing Tax and Tuition Hikes

Goldwater Institute: Maricopa County Community College District hurting businesses and students


Comments

  1. “MCCCD has turned requests for property tax and tuition increases into an annual event. College leadership has requested property tax increases each year since 2005, while requesting tuition increases in six of the past seven years” True, but look a little closer readers, how many of those years did a property tax or tuition hike go through? If the hike or tuition raise did not go through it was requested again the next year. . .

    “average completion rate for full-time students in the Maricopa system is 19 percent, below even the disturbingly low national average of 21 percent”.

    Again, true since completion rates are only defined as graduates, not certificate compelters or english as a second language competers or life long learning students that take classes for the sake of education itself.

    Can MCCD improve, of course are some administration positions overpaid, perhaps, but show the real story. . .

  2. It’s not the college’s problem if a student takes out a student loan to pay for a year and fails to obtain any degree or certificate. They got the money, the debt is the student’s problem.
    Corporations can’t do that sort of thing and stay in business, failing to completely or competently deliver their product or service, but get paid for it anyway.

    These so-called “non-profits” sure know how to take money without delivering anything substantive in return, with their defense being it’s always the customer’s fault.

  3. How come nothing about the reduction of state funding?

  4. Better yet, why not make schools compete for property tax money!

    Why can’t I divert my share of taxes to the educatiobnal institution of my choice?

  5. Well, if schools were all privatised, then no taxes would be necessary to support them. SEEMS radical, but education went from parental instruction and parental -paid private tutoring, to private schools. Government intrusion into this thriving, decentralized competitive sector showed up much later. Small, personal schooling morphed into impersonal warehousing, with administrative efficiencies trumping skills transfers.
    Now schools are just increasingly larger forts installed in communities, defending and promoting union interests of big union payrolls, pensions and free healthcare. Our new high school was indeed constructed with the elements of a fort expressly designed to be able to slam the doors shut and withstand an actual armed assault.
    WTF?

  6. Interesting. I earn $14,400 teaching in the community colleges. This maxes out the course load I’m permitted to take on during the academic year. Yesterday we were told that if we manage to wangle two extra courses during the summer (this summer my work day starts at 7:00 a.m.), we will receive an 11.13% cut in pay, because even though we are contract workers, we’re regarded, in a half-a$$ed way, as “employees” and so will have to pay into the state pension fund, in which none of us will ever be vested.

    Eighty percent of the faculty in the Maricopa County Community College District are, similarly, part-timers earning less then minimum wage by the time you add up the actual number of hours we work. I don’t know anyone earning a hundred grand or more, unless it’s an upper-level administrator.

    In Arizona, there are no unions for college-level faculty. Where does Wanumba come up with such a silly idea?

    It never ceases to amaze me that Arizonans think we should prepare their children for high-paying jobs, but we shouldn’t receive decent pay ourselves — not even a living wage. You end up with part-timers teaching your kids — people for whom teaching is a side gig to bring in a few extra dollars, not a full-time job they can depend on to put food on the table and a roof over their heads — and then you complain because your kids come out of school dumb as posts? Get real!

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