Topeka State education leaders agreed Wednesday to fight a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a third board to govern community colleges.
Members of the state Board of Education and Board of Regents met to discuss strategy regarding a legislative proposal to allow formation of new educational governing boards.
Although officials of both boards opposed the third-board concept, consensus couldn't be reached on a way to improve representation of community colleges.
Two-year community colleges are under the jurisdiction of the Board of Education, which is also responsibile for K-12 public education and vocational-technical schools.
Regents govern six four-year universities, including Kansas University, and a technical school.
REGENT Robert Creighton, Atwood, said there is considerable pressure on the Legislature to "do something anything" to reform higher education.
One spotlight is on community colleges, whose leaders "believe they are not adequately represented in the Legislature" by the Board of Education, he said.
Several Board of Education members sharply criticized a proposal under review by regents that would shift control of the state's 19 community colleges to the regents.
Wanda Morrison, a Hutchinson board member, said the regents' plan was flawed because it left technical and vocational schools in the hands of the Board of Education.
"I don't want to see a third board, but I'd have grave concerns about separating community colleges and vocational-technical schools," she said.
CREIGHTON said giving regents control of only the community colleges was appropriate, because the colleges more closely resemble a university.
"It's not a question of trying to grab power from another board," he said.
In addition, he said linkage would eliminate the need for a fourth board one that would provide overall coordination on educational issues.
Board of Education Member Tim Emert, Independence, said he didn't approve of the third-board idea.
However, if he had a choice between shifting the community colleges to regents or a third board, he would choose the third board.
Lee Droegemueller, commissioner of the Department of Education, agreed with Emert.
"I don't think these two should ever be separated," he said. "They are one and the same."