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College Presidents Oppose State Senate Funding Proposal

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Florida college presidents say they are opposed to a new performance-based funding measure that will be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee next week.

James Henningsen, president of the College of Central Florida, told the State Board of Education on Thursday that the colleges want to stay with the performance standards that the board adopted in 2015.

“As the Council of Presidents, we’re in support of keeping that same model,” Henningsen told the board, which was meeting in Gainesville. “We’ve put a lot of effort (into the performance standards) over the last two years.”The new standards contained in the Senate proposal (SB 2) would evaluate performance based on the number of full-time state college students who complete their associate degrees in two years and baccalaureate degrees in four years.

Under the current system, the 28 schools are measured based on a three-year standard for associate degrees and a six-year standard for baccalaureate degrees.

The tighter graduation standards, if they become law, could mean some schools fall short and lose performance funding.

Henningsen said the college presidents want to retain the current standards for all colleges, while agreeing that higher standards could be applied to schools seeking to win a “distinguished” institution designation.

The Senate bill with the new performance standards is one of two major higher-education bills scheduled for a vote next Thursday in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The legislation also contains a higher performance standard for state universities, holding them to a four-year graduation measure rather the than the current six.

The legislation would also require state universities to put in place a block tuition plan, in which students would be charged a flat rate for classes each semester rather than paying on the current credit-hour basis, by the fall of 2018.

Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said this week he would like to have the two major higher-education bills (SB 2, SB 4) on the Senate floor during the first week of the 60-day legislative session, which begins March 7.

Also Thursday, the State Board of Education unanimously approved an accounting baccalaureate degree program for Santa Fe College in Gainesville. It is the 11th four-year degree program approved for a state college since a moratorium on new college baccalaureate degrees ended in 2015.

The accounting degree program, which has the support of the University of Florida, is designed to graduate more accounting students to meet job demands in the Gainesville area.

Another Senate bill (SB 374) would cap the number of state college students enrolled in four-year degree programs and would extend the review period for schools seeking to win approval for new baccalaureate degrees.

About Lloyd Dunkelberger - News Service of Florida

Lloyd Dunkelberger is a reporter for the News Service of Florida, a wire service to which WUFT News subscribes.

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