Community College District's Mission
3 of a 3-part Series)
State Board of Directors for Community Colleges in Arizona exercises limited
authority over the state's community colleges. That agency merely coordinates
the activities of institutions statewide--and then, only as expressly
permitted by the legislature.
Consequently, under state statute, a community college district is left
to define for itself its unique means of delivering instruction and other
services to the community it serves. Responsibility for defining such
activities is reposed with the district's governing board.
A district governing board, however--like the State Board--is subject
to the limitations which the legislature imposes. Virtually any activity
in which a community college district might wish to engage must be based
in statutory authority.
In some areas, a district governing board has no latitude to decide what
it will or will not do; that is, the legislature has imposed upon each
Arizona community college district a set of mandatory powers which a district--typically
through its governing board--must perform.
The most salient mandatory powers of a district governing board are those
which require the board to:
maintain each community college for a period of "not less than
eight months in each year and, if the funds of the district are sufficient,
maintain each community college for a longer period."
such personnel as chancellors, vice-chancellors, presidents, deans,
instructors, and "other officers and employees as it deems necessary."
the salaries of its officers and employees, as well as remove any officer
or employee if, in the governing board's judgment, "the interests
of education in this state require the removal."
degrees, certificates and diplomas upon the completion of courses and
curriculum as the governing board deems appropriate.
other areas, a district board has the authority--but not the mandate--to
take action. Among a board's discretionary powers are:
administering trusts declared or created for the district, as well as
the receipt of gifts of property.
optional retirement programs among its employee benefit offerings.
with other entities.
rules "for the control of vehicles and nonpedestrian devices."
legal responsibilities of district boards, however, go well beyond the
legislature's general descriptions of mandatory and discretionary powers.
Among all the statutory provisions that authorize a community college
district's activities, the most extensive are those which prescribe the
district's fiscal operations.
Here, the district board's role is most prominent. Only the board may
propose--and ultimately adopt--a budget for the district each year. Similarly,
a governing board has exclusive authority to conduct a bond election.
Finally, a district governing board is subject to other provisions of
law that are not unique to such a body, but apply as well to other boards
or commissions that govern political subdivisions.
For example, a governing board meets the definition of the term "public
body" as contained in Arizona's open meeting law; accordingly, a
governing board must (as required by the law) conduct its business in
full view of the public.
Additionally, governing board members must comply with state statutes
that prescribe ethical conduct by public officers, most notably the Arizona
conflict of interest statutes.
in the Winter 2000 Edition of In Brief