By Nikki Garrett Metzger
(Victorville) – The last few years have been difficult financially to the Victor Valley. Many businesses as well as individuals and families have had to tighten their belts and take a hard look at their budgets.
Victor Valley College has also had some financial challenges recently. Joe Brady, a member of VVC’s Board of Trustees recently called for a closer look at the college’s budget in what he is calling a balanced budget amendment. He recently explained why he brought this to the Board of Trustees:
“I look at the college as a business, and I also look at the college as one of the major assets that the High Desert has. It is an asset to help us educate a workforce because if we are going to try to attract industry to come here, and we’re one of the last areas in Southern California to do so, we need to have an educated workforce.
“From probably a very selfish standpoint, I want to see the highest quality educated workforce that we can possibly have, because when I’m out talking to a company or even my competitors they want to know that we have an educated workforce.”
“The administration at the college, who I believe does not get the accolades that they deserve sometimes, over the last year and a half have cut out about $4.9 million to make the college more efficient than it was before.
“But I get frustrated when I believe we’re cutting in the wrong places sometimes. We really need to take a look and say, ‘We have a structural problem, it’s been going on for years, we’ve been able to get by by tweaking the budget, how government carries their books – different than you and I carry our books.
“I think the challenge that I now face in asking for what I would call a balanced budget amendment, very similar to what people want to see in this country and people want to see in the State of California, is to say to VVC and to our leadership (which I am a part of) that we need to tackle this and we need to tackle this now. And that kicking the can down the road for political purposes is not why I believe that I was appointed or earned my spot as a trustee.
“The college has to understand that we are there to educate the students, to create an educated workforce, to be sure these students are transferring, and whatever hard decisions we have to make (and there are going to be some very, very, VERY tough decisions we have to make).
This kind of ties into that – when I got to the college I was a little frustrated that our meetings were not televised. I think that people need to have that right to watch how we make the collective board decisions that could be very tough this next year that politically may not be favorable. But that will protect the long term integrity of the college. And there are maybe constituent groups that are not happy; there could be all kinds of people that are not going to be happy. At the end of the day, why are we here? We’re here to educate kids, to ensure they get the best education possible for what they spend, and to be sure that they transfer to another college, or that they get a certificate here, that they become part of the workforce.
I asked Brady about the response he has received on this issue: “I’ve probably had 10 people that were at the meeting or watched it call me and say “We really appreciate what you’re doing.” I’ve had a couple of people say “You know Joe, politically this is really going to challenge your re-election because you may be getting at the heart of one of the problems in education and that’s the cost of operating these schools.” And I tell them “That’s OK”. I think at the end of the day you can’t BS the taxpayers. I have told people that I will do what I have to to expose the issue.”
Victor Valley College Board of Trustee meetings are the second Tuesday of each month in building 10 on the VVC campus. Meetings are open and Brady invites everyone to come and take part in the meetings.