STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
|Time:||03:06 PM to 03:46 PM|
|This Meeting was called to order by|
|This Report was prepared by|
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
|Bills Addressed: ||Action Taken:|
|SB09-043||Amended, Referred to the Committee of the Whole|
03:06 PM -- Senate Bill 09-043
Senator Isgar, sponsor of Senate Bill 09-043, concerning the merger of Pueblo Community College and San Juan Basin Area Vocational School, presented the bill to the committee. Senator Isgar talked about the history of Fort Lewis College, which is in his district, noting that when Fort Lewis became a moderately selective institution, a void was created for students in the community. He explained that Pueblo Community College and San Juan Basin Area Vocational School came in to fill that void. Senator Isgar explained that there has been some confusion for students around the two institutions, and said that merging the two institutions will alleviate that confusion and allow more seamless service to students. He talked about how credits from the institution would transfer to a four-year institution. He said there is a lot of opportunity in that area of the state to train local students for the available jobs in the area.
Senator Isgar responded to questions from the committee. Senator Heath asked Senator Isgar to clarify Fort Lewis College's position on the bill. Senator Isgar said Fort Lewis College is in support of the bill, and said the bill protects Fort Lewis College's two-year agricultural science program. He explained the relationship between the institutions in the area.
Senator King asked about controlled maintenance moneys and about College Opportunity Fund moneys in relation to the proposed newly-created school. Senator Isgar explained the current funding mechanism, clarifying that the new institution would be a part of the state community college system. He explained that vocational schools do not currently receive capital construction moneys. He said the bill allows the new school to access capital construction moneys as other community colleges do. Senator King asked for clarification of the ownership of the facility in which the school would reside, which Senator Isgar supplied, saying the building would be transferred to the new school. Senator Bacon talked about controlled maintenance, saying there have not been funds for community colleges.
Senator King asked about the identification of the bill as revenue neutral. Senator Isgar answered, and said his witnesses would speak to that issue.
The following persons testified:
03:20 PM -- Cliff Richardson, Vice-President for Finance and Administration for the Colorado Community College System, testified in support of the bill. He said Pueblo Community College and the San Juan Basin Area Vocational School have struggled with identifying which institution provides which services. Beginning last spring, he said, the institutions agreed that a merger was the best way to proceed.
Mr. Richardson explained funding for vocational schools, saying it is a line-item in the Long Bill. He also noted that vocational schools receive a small amount of money from school districts. The intent of the bill, he said, is to move the line-item appropriation to the College Opportunity Fund (COF) Program. Mr. Richardson explained what would happen in future years, saying students would be COF eligible.
Mr. Richardson responded to committee questions. In response to a question from Senator King, he said the intent is to permanently decrease the appropriation for vocational schools by the amount to be transferred to the COF line. Senator Hudak asked for clarification of the location of the proposed school. Mr. Richardson described service areas, saying Pueblo Community College has a service area in the southeast part of the state for academic classes only. He clarified that Montezuma County is part of the service area.
03:25 PM -- Shannon South and J.D.Garvin testified in support of the bill. Ms. South is the president of San Juan Valley Area Vocational School. Dr. Garvin is the president of Pueblo Community College. Dr. Garvin described the locations of the branches of the community college.
Ms. South described her background with the vocational school, saying there have been various discussions over the years about a merger. She explained that it is difficult for students to negotiate between the two institutions. Ms. South talked about the importance of creating seamless pathways for students. She said all the communities they serve have been a part of the talks around the merger. She said the three school districts that support the vocational school are in favor of the merger. Ms. South said that the school districts had to pull their funding for secondary programs and the series of events made the merger a "no-brainer."
Dr. Garvin said the merger is about the students. He said he and Ms. South have tried to tear down as many barriers as possible that are faced by students in this under-served area of the state. Dr. Garvin talked about how the merger would benefit students, specifically talking about how vocational credits do not transfer to the community college. Under the merger, he said, the credits would be universally transferable. He said the new institution would have a large portfolio of programs for students to choose from. Finally, he discussed how the merger would improve technology for students. Dr. Garvin said a secondary effect is that the institution is an economic engine in the area, and that the merger allows a unity of effort that will create economic opportunities in the region.
Ms. South and Dr. Garvin responded to committee questions. Ms. South responded to a question from Senator King about the transferability of vocational school credits. She explained when this credit transfer is difficult, and said that the merger would make transfer to four-year institutions easier. Dr. Garvin discussed challenges around articulation agreements with four-year institutions, saying community colleges have uniformity with four-year institutions, but some curriculum of vocational schools is not transferable due to accreditation issues. Committee discussion around this issue continued, with discussion about technical courses as they compare to academic courses. Dr. Garvin said four-year institutions sometimes accept vocational credits as electives, but students have to re-take core courses.
Senator Isgar made closing comments to the bill, saying the community is behind the merger. Senator Isgar explained Amendment L.001, which clarifies language around the mission of Fort Lewis College.
|TIME: || 03:42:24 PM|
|MOTION:||Moved Senate Bill 09-043, as amended, to the Committee of the Whole. The motion passed on a 5-0-3 vote.|
Final YES: 5 NO: 0 EXC: 3 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS
The committee adjourned.