President Office — Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2017
Senator Hukill Files College Competitiveness Act
Senator Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) today filed Senate Bill 374, the College Competitiveness Act of 2017. The legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) and Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby), is a component of the Florida Senate’s Excellence in Higher Education agenda advocated by Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart).
“This legislation will elevate the visibility of our nationally-recognized Florida Community College System as an integral partner in Florida’s system of higher education, with a renewed commitment to access and dedication to its primary 2+2 mission, and on-time completion of vital associate degrees and workforce credentials, as fundamental priorities,” said Senator Hukill.
Senate Bill 374, reinstates a statewide coordinating board for the Florida Community College System, tightens the community college bachelor degree approval process, expands 2+2 college-to-university partnerships, and clarifies responsibilities within Florida’s taxpayer-funded K-20 education system to avoid wasteful duplication of programs offered by state universities, community colleges, and technical centers.
“Community colleges are vital to Florida’s K-20 public education system,” said President Negron. “With a distinct mission, separate from the role of our K-12 and state university systems, our nationally-recognized community colleges deserve their own coordinating board to advocate for the success of the system.”
“By clarifying the distinct roles and responsibilities of our state universities, community colleges, and technical centers, we can elevate each component of our higher education system with strategic policy enhancements and funding investments that promote economic growth,” said Senator Galvano.
“Florida’s 2+2 college-to-university partnership program is a nationally-recognized model for success in higher education,” said Leader Simpson. “Strengthening and expanding partnership agreements that enable students to transition seamlessly from a community college to one of our 12 state universities facilitates degree completion, which saves students money and time.”
Reinstates Statewide Coordinating Board
Senate Bill 374 reinstates the State Board of Community Colleges as the coordinating board of the Florida Community College System, independent of the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors of the State University System, to oversee the local community college boards of trustees. The bill requires the State Board of Community Colleges to appoint a Chancellor to the board, and transfers personnel, budget, and other appropriate functions from the State Board of Education to the State Board of Community Colleges.
Clarifies Missions of Community Colleges and School District Workforce Programs
Senate Bill 374 clarifies that providing lower-level undergraduate instruction and awarding Associate in Arts degrees, which transfer to a state university, are responsibilities under the primary mission of community colleges. Additionally, responsibilities under the primary mission of community colleges are to prepare students directly for careers requiring less than bachelor degrees, by awarding Associate in Science degrees, Associate in Applied Science degrees, and nationally-recognized industry certifications, which help students enter the workforce prepared for success.
Offering upper-level instruction and awarding bachelor degrees are responsibilities under the secondary mission of community colleges. To support this delineation in mission, the bill establishes a cap on the planned growth in upper-level undergraduate enrollment at each community college, thereby focusing attention and resources on excellence in meeting primary mission responsibilities. The provisions of the bill do not terminate any existing programs and no students currently enrolled in community college baccalaureate degree programs will be impacted by the enrollment cap.
The legislation further clarifies the mission of technical centers is to promote advances and innovations in specific workforce preparation and economic development. The public technical center learning environment prepares its students to meet the needs of the local community through specific and specialized technical career-based training; thus promoting diversity and choices within the public technical education community and while increasing a quicker turnaround in economic investments as these students are more likely to immediately enter the workforce. The bill clarifies technical centers governed by local school boards may not offer college credit courses, college credit certificates, associate degrees, or bachelor degrees.
Expands 2+2 College-To-University Partnerships
Senate Bill 374 expands successful 2+2 college-to-university programs, such as DirectConnect partnerships with the University of Central Florida and FUSE partnerships with the University of South Florida, by requiring every college to implement, by no later than the 2018 academic year, a minimum of one 2+2 pathway agreement with at least one state university partner. The 2+2 pathway agreement guarantees the college’s Associate in Arts degree graduates, who meet specific requirements, admission to the university partnered with that community college.