SIGNAL PEAK — With each round of pandemic relief grant funding, schools such as Central Arizona College were able to offer assistance to an increasing portion of their student body. Even as the pandemic wanes, CAC students will be able to take advantage of federal CARES Act support in a variety of ways, from direct tuition to free or discounted textbooks.

During the June Governing Board meeting, Vice President of Student Services Jenni Cardenas gave an overview of relief funding’s impact on the college so far and how students and staff would benefit going forward.

“In the beginning, the guidance we were given was very specific as to how we could award students the funding,” Cardenas said. “But with the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, we started to see the expansion of who we could serve open up.”

According to Cardenas, all students who were enrolled at CAC during the pandemic have received some form of aid. That included ensuring students had devices for virtual learning and access to technology for teachers and staff. Faculty facing struggles at home were also able to cash out various types of sick leave or vacation time.

Currently, CAC has vouchers for up to 400 students to take GED examinations; summer and fall students will also be receiving a $100 scholarship they can use at campus bookstores. Academically, students will have a tuition waiver for three state credits valued at $258.

Overall between the three rounds of funding — the CARES act, CRRSAA and ARP — CAC received just over $21.5 million for students as well as institutional and instructional needs.

The board formally adopted the 2021-22 budget, which will amount to $82 million, a slight increase over the previous year overall, although CAC’s operating funds are 2.2% lower. Adoption of the budget had been delayed by one month due to the addition of grant funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

During her monthly presentation, College President Jackie Elliott announced that the college would be adding more in-person classes to the upcoming fall schedule, as COVID-19 cases continue to decline. Elliott said that the school’s leadership was closely monitoring the wildfire situation and how it affected the college, in particular the Aravaipa Campus.

Elliott said the campus was safe but that employees could be asked to intermittently work from home depending on the direction of wind and fires.

Elliott’s contract was also renewed by the board for the 2021-22 school year.

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Aaron Dorman is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more. He can be reached at adorman@pinalcentral.com.