Phones soon will be ringing across Pima County in an effort to find out what taxpayers think of their embattled community college.
The Governing Board of Pima Community College has agreed to spend $30,000 for a countywide telephone survey “to assess public perceptions, attitudes and preferences regarding the college.”
The survey will start soon and is due to wrap up by year’s end.
It’s part of a package of measures, expected to cost taxpayers up to $200,000 this budget year, for outside help with advertising and marketing.
That’s roughly twice as much as the $93,000 the college spent last year, and six times more than the $32,000 tab the year before that.
The extra spending follows months of negative publicity over the school’s shortcomings.
PCC was placed on probation by its accreditor in April over failings in its governance and administration, forcing the school to make changes in order to stay in business. Some of the $200,000 will go to create new ads that highlight improvements the college has made, said a report to the board from C.J. Karamargin, PCC’s public relations boss.
In comments at the board’s public meeting Wednesday, Karamargin said PCC cut back on advertising after January 2011, fearing its ads might not be well-received after former PCC student Jared Lee Loughner went on a shooting rampage that killed six and wounded 13.
PCC’s then-leadership decided the college should “keep its head down” and not draw attention to itself, Karamargin told the board, referring to the administration of former Chancellor Roy Flores.
The new phone survey will be carried out in English and Spanish to capture a statistically valid sample of local adults.
The college has a contract with Gordley Group, a local marketing firm, to do the work.
PCC hasn’t done a market research survey in at least seven years, Karamargin said.