Maricopa County Community College District Board Considers Emergency Powers For Chancellor Amid Coronavirus Disease Concerns

Published: Wednesday, March 11, 2020 - 8:19am
Updated: Thursday, March 26, 2020 - 2:45pm
Maricopa Community Colleges
Steven Gonzales

In order to swiftly and effectively respond to the coronavirus, the Maricopa County Community College District Governing Board acknowledged its own limitations.

At a Tuesday night work session, the board was presented with the college system’s response so far. International and non-essential travel has been canceled, and colleges have distributed “stop the spread” flyers that are recycled from the typical flu season.

Extra cleaning products and hand sanitizer have been ordered, though officials acknowledged there’s a backlog and new supplies might not be here anytime soon.

Beyond some initial preventative measures, officials at every level of the district stressed that the situation is fluid, and they must be able to respond accordingly.

And the governing board is limited by open meetings laws that dictate when the board can meet; requires advance notice for the public of those meetings; and then vote on how to respond to a crisis.

That’s why Board Member Linda Thor said it’s critical that Interim Chancellor Steven Gonzales be given emergency powers.

“We can’t, in 20 minutes, legally make decisions or change policy,” Thor said. “But I think we can, on a temporary basis, empower the chancellor to act in the best interest of the district.”

President Marie Sullivan said the board will vote on a plan to empower Gonzales at its next meeting on Tuesday.

KJZZ is licensed to the Maricopa County Community College District.

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