Outgoing President Dick Dahl gave his year end report at the Annual Membership meeting on May 13th.
Last year's collaboration with Arizona Town Hall resulted in a very successful Verde Valley Forum. Excellent progress is being made in implementing the five priority recommendations that resulted from last year's Forum titled, “The Role of Post-Secondary Education in the Future of the Verde Valley Region.” These five recommendations resulted in the formation of several new entities and organizations that are currently and actively pursuing their respective goals and objectives.
A task force headed by Beaver Creek School District Superintendent Karin Ward, along with representatives from each of the incorporated and unincorporated areas in the Verde Valley region, convened four focus group meetings throughout our region. As a result of this effort, the Yavapai College District Governing Board, (YCDGB), authorized a survey of all seventeen public libraries in the region that could allow access to online learning. The survey indicated a need for additional computers at these locations, and the YCDGB has included this expense item in their budget for next year.
Additional studies are also underway to improve access to transportation systems so more people can physically access the Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus. It is clear that the work of this task force has been instrumental in motivating the college to proactively address accessibility issues.
Progress is also being made on improving the cultural awareness and direction of post-secondary education in the region.. Erin Mabery, Buena Vista Children's Services, is leading this objective. Buena Vista has, for several years, conducted a multi-day seminar that focuses on early childhood education. This year's seminar was the kick-off for their work to implement the 2016 Forum recommendations. There is an obvious connection to the 2017 Forum on preK-12 education, and I have every reason to believe it will carry over to this year's discussion topics.
The Verde Valley Educational Consortium headed by Barbara U'Ren, retired Superintendent of Cottonwood Oak Creek School District, with the able assistance of Consortium organizing committee member Eric Marcus was formally established as an Arizona non-profit corporation and a federal tax exempt 501(c) 3 entity.
The Consortium organizing committee is currently identifying and selecting a board of directors. I view this as a major accomplishment, and believe the organization has great potential to significantly improve post-secondary education in our region.
One of the recommendations of last year's keynote speaker, Josh Wyner from the Aspen Institute, is also being implemented. Mr. Wyner described a career and technical education (CTE) program established in four post-secondary schools located in South Dakota with the assistance of Western Dakota Tech, (WDT), which administers the program in the Rapid City. I have reviewed this program and provided my findings to Barbara U'Ren and the Consortium organizing committee, along with recommending that it be a model to be emulated in the Verde Valley region.
The Western Dakota Tech program is designed to link business and governmental sectors with technical and career education in order to garner additional positive involvement and financial support from these sectors. I believe this model is particularly relevant to our region because the demographics of Rapid City, SD are very similar to ours. Funding for the South Dakota program is almost equally divided between public taxes and contributions from the private business sector.
I am hopeful that the Consortium will provide an educational foundation for the benefit of Verde Valley residents. There is a growing need for employees who have currently relevant technical and vocational training. The WDT program offers more than 70 certificated post-secondary programs, including truck driving, along with on-site training programs for the business and governmental sectors. WDT also convenes two annual meetings with area businesses to discuss and determine current work force development needs so that the WDT can tailor future courses of study to satisfy anticipated demand.
Recommendations from the 2016 Forum have been submitted to the Yavapai College District Governing Board with a request that they conduct a feasibility study to determine the need for a separate Verde Valley administrative college. The YCDGB has taken this Forum recommendation under advisement. While there is presently no organized group leading this effort, the interest in this topic continues.
The 2016 Forum process was a modification of that used in the past. It was modeled, in part, after the very successful Arizona Town Hall Lake Havasu City, AZ program conducted in August 2015. As a result of their success, the city was a second place winner in a national competition, leading to a two million dollar revitalization grant, which is part of the “America’s Best Communities” campaign.
We also held our first Future Leaders’ Forum for high school students last August, which was successful and informative. We will sponsor another such Forum next month pertaining to preK-12 education in our region.
The other modification from previous Forums was the establishment of a community outreach program that included several post-Forum meetings held in four different Verde Valley region locations. The purpose was to inform community residents about Forum results and encourage them to become involved in implementing the recommendations and objectives resulting from the Forum.
In summary, I am very pleased and grateful for the outcomes of the 2016 Forum. I thank the many participants, volunteers, VVFPA members and others who made it so successful and who continue efforts to improve our communities and the region. The fact that the 2016 Forum resulted in the formation of an entirely new Education Consortium organization is indicative of the kind of action that we always hope will stem from the hard work of so many.
Participant selection is under way for the 2017 Forum.
This year's Forum titled, Strengthening PreK-12 Education in the Verde Valley Region, will convene at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, September 8th, followed by a full-day session on Saturday, September 9th, and concluding at 5:00 pm.
Participation is by invitation only, but if you are interested in participating, you may send an email to Carolyn Fisher, Participant Selection Chair, to request a 2017Forum application. firstname.lastname@example.org
Tentative Agenda for the 2017 Forum nears completion.
The schedule for the upcoming Forum in September is nearing final approval.
Many thanks to Karin Ward Superintendent of the Beaver Creek School District, for providing us with an excellent and convenient location for this year’s Forum, the Beaver Creek School and Community Center. The Executive Committee recently met there and took an informative and pleasant tour of the facilities.
The Forum will be held in the school's large and comfortable multi-purpose room, which is adjacent to the school's cafeteria kitchen where meals will be prepared for participants.
If you have never visited the Beaver Creek School campus, you will be pleasantly surprised by its features and location. It is not too far from the Cornville/McGuireville off-ramp of I-17.
One of the outstanding campus features is the old stone school house built in 1938 that is well preserved and can be toured by visitors. It will be open for tours at 4:00 pm on Friday, September 8th before the Forum dinner begins at 5:30 pm.
Following dinner, we will again feature a compelling and informative keynote speaker. Dr. Lattie Coor, Chairman and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona, will provide Forum participants with a comprehensive overview of the current status and future of preK-12 education in our state. Dr. Coor was the keynote speaker at last year’s Forum. His presentation was regarded as one of the high points of the event.
Following Dr. Coor's presentation, participants will have the opportunity to view the magnificent night sky courtesy of Astronomers of Verde Valley who will have telescopes set up on the school's large circular outdoor patio.
Participants will reconvene for a continental breakfast at 7:00 am the next morning. . Following breakfast, a group of the Verde Valley’s leading educators will participate in an enlightening and informative panel discussion about the major challenges related to delivering quality preK-12 education in the region. The panel, moderated by Dr. Mark Joranstad, Executive Director of the Arizona School Administrators Association, will consist of six public school district superintendents and an administrator from the private school sector.
Following the panel, participants will break out into small discussion group to address four topics. These discussion sessions and the report-out process will be moderated by Arizona Appeals Court Judge Pat Norris. Questions related to each topic are sure to stimulate interesting and important discussions.
The luncheon speaker will be Dick Foreman, President of the Arizona Business and Education Coalition, (AZBEC). Under his leadership, AZBEC spearheaded the successful ballot initiative to add a 1% sales tax to support Arizona schools. His talk will focus on other options to secure more funding for our schools.
Deliberation on the four topics will conclude in mid-afternoon after which all participants will convene to present group results and conclusions. This information will be used to establish priority goals and action plans that can be implemented with the involvement and support of stakeholders region-wide.
The Forum will adjourn at 5:00 pm on Saturday.
Our new website almost ready to debut.
A new website for the Verde Valley Forum for Public Affairs is almost ready to go live online.
Our target date is July 25th. In the meantime, you can still access our old website at http://vvforum.org/
Once the new website, hosted by Wild Apricot, is up and running, you can simply and easily access it by clicking on our logo above,which is linked to our new location.
The temporary URL for the NEW site is: https://verdevalleyforumforpublicaffairs.wildapricot.org/
Future Leader's Forum set for August.
The Future Leaders’ Forum is comprised of primarily junior and senior students from the public high schools in the Verde Valley region. We have also extended invitations to students in charter and private schools.
Students discuss topics that the Forum develops. They are assigned to discussion groups, each of which chooses a leader who facilitates the discussion and a recorder who summarizes and reports opinions about the topics.
The Future Leaders’ Forum has been a very successful and worthwhile endeavor. The students’ opinions have been valuable and especially useful as input to discussions at the fall Forum event. This year, the future leaders will consider ways to strengthen prek-12 education in the Verde Valley region. They will be provided with background research materials to help them prepare for their discussions.
The Future Leaders’ Forum will be held on Friday, August 16 from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Yavapai College Clarkdale Campus. Participation in this event is by invitation only.
Welcome new Board Members and Officers.
Elections at our May 13 Annual Meeting resulted in a new Board and Executive Committee.
There are many familiar faces and names, but we are especially pleased that there are several new ones as well.
Board of Directors
One-Year Term of Office - Expires 4/30/18 Two-Year Term of Office - Expires 4/30/19
Steve Ayers Al Comello
Dick Dahl Eric Marcus
Darla Deville Nikki Bagley
Virginia Duncan Karin Ward
Claudelle Johnson Andrea Christelle
Steve King Barbara Waak
Julie Larson Carolyn Fisher
Russell Moker Open -
Executive Committee - Term Expires - 4/30/18
President - Steve King
V.P. Operations - Jane Whitmire
V.P. Forums/Programs- Andrea Christelle
Secretary - Barbara Litrell
Treasurer - Open
Past President - Dick Dahl
At-Large - Darla Deville
At-Large - Sandy Moriarty
Committee Chairs - Term Expires - 4/30/18
Development - Dick Dahl
Research - Marshall Whitmire
Physical Arrangements - Karin Ward
Future Leaders’ Forum - Julie Larson
Membership/Social Media - Russell Moker
Community Outreach - Steve Ayers
Public Information - Al Comello
Participant Selection - Carolyn Fisher
Thanks and farewell to three long term VVFPA members.
Frank Besnette, Jim Eaton, and Lisa Hirsch have retired from the Verde Valley Forum for Public Affairs Board, but they certainly will not be forgotten.
Past-President Dick Dahl expressed appreciation and sincere thanks to three Forum volunteers. Frank Besnette, a Past-President of the VVFPA, was involved with us back when we were still known as The Sedona Academy. Through Frank's tireless efforts, the Forum made great strides in gaining wide-spread credibility. Frank played a pivotal role in securing funding from Northern Arizona University for last year's Community Outreach Program.
Jim Eaton, former VVFPA Vice President of Operations and long-time board member, deserves our heartfelt thanks for his tireless effort in keeping the flame alive during the eight years that the VVFPA was dormant. Most recently, Jim played a lead role in establishing our website.
Lisa Hirsch has also been an active and hardworking volunteer since The Sedona Academy years. Lisa did an excellent job serving as Participant Selection Chair last year, along with participating in registration and just about anywhere else she could help. She will be missed, but we wish her the best of luck in her new career endeavor as Principal of Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale.
Membership renewal is past due.
Forum membership runs from April 1st to April 30th of the following year.
We're late reminding you to renew your membership. You can now register online at our new website. Simply go to the Membership page, select the desired membership level, enter your email address and click on next to take you to the payment options page.
If you register online, you will automatically be included in our new database. You will also create your own account and personal profile which you can use to communicate with other members or when you visit our website.
An email reminder will be sent out soon to all existing members as well as last year's Forum participants who received a one year sustaining membership as a result of their participation.
Please be generous and help VVFPA continue its important mission and vision for our communities and region.
Without sponsors and volunteers, there would be no Verde Valley Forum.
Since our inception as The Sedona Academy and its successor the VVFPA, we have scores of individuals, corporations, colleges and universities, and foundations provide critical support to our work.
We thank our tireless members, officers and committee chairs for all that they do individually and collectively to make our organization successful in all its endeavors.
2016 Verde Valley Forum sponsors