Legislators meet at NAU to discuss education

House of Education Comittee

Educators met on campus to urge the state House Education Committee to find alternatives for looming budget cuts facing education.

During the special meeting, hosted by NAU at its High Country Conference Center on Feb. 9, education leaders from northern Arizona asked the committee to seek revenue generation and business partnerships rather than implement budget cuts that could distress their ability to educate students.

“Providing an affordable, accessible and quality undergraduate residential education is absolutely our core mission, and we don’t want to lose our momentum,” NAU President John Haeger told the committee.

Haeger cited examples of NAU’s successful programs, such as forestry and the College of Education, and stressed the importance of the university’s role as an economic development engine for providing Arizona with a qualified 21st century workforce.

“To meet the 2010 budget cuts would mean more furloughs, very large layoffs and pinpointing programs to cut,” Haeger said.

He said it is uncertain if NAU can continue to provide education to people throughout the state with physical sites. “We are already looking at closing those sites and migrating students to the web-learning environment.”

Haeger encouraged other educators to seek revenue-generating partnerships that provide students learning experiences, such as the High Country Conference Center—a partnership among NAU, the city of Flagstaff, Sodexo and Drury Hotels.

Other presenters included Michael Kearns, chancellor, Mohave Community College; Jac Heiss, superintendent for the Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry and Technology; Cecilia Owen, county school superintendent, Coconino County; Deborah Dennison, superintendent, Ganado Unified School District; Bob Lombardi, superintendent of Northland Preparatory Academy; and Kevin Brown, superintendent, Flagstaff Unified School District.