As the plan stands, a new coordinating council would have oversight on budgets at regents institutions, but not at community colleges, which would remain in the hands of local trustees.
From Staff and Wire Reports
Topeka -- Gov. Bill Graves' task force on governing higher education adopted as its draft plan Thursday a proposal to create a new coordinating council for all institutions and a new board to supervise community colleges and vocational-technical schools.
Unveiling of the draft plan came after the task force learned earlier in the day that agreement among university and community college presidents over creating a board and giving it broad powers to coordinate all of higher education in Kansas had collapsed.
The plan, outlined by Rep. David Adkins to the Task Force on Higher Education Structure for Excellence, will have details added by a five-member committee of the task force, then be debated by the full group at a meeting later this month.
It received mostly favorable first-blush reviews by task force members. Several said it incorporated many of the ideas advanced by all segments of the higher education community during hearings this fall.
"This is a workable project," said Ken Havner, a member of the state Board of Regents from Hays who serves on the task force.
"I think this is a good plan," said Don Slawson of Wichita, a former regent.
Initial reaction was not all positive.
Bill Wagnon, a member of the State Board of Education from Topeka, said he didn't understand the need to create another board, as the plan would do, to take over supervision of community colleges and vocational-technical schools when the state board already does that.
Others noted the plan would create more educational bureaucracy by setting up the two new boards.
Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer, the task force's co-chairman, said he believes the plan would require a constitutional amendment to enact because it shifts Board of Regents and Board of Education functions to the new boards.
One new entity would be a higher education coordinating council. Among its responsibilities would be strategic planning, review and certification of budgets, resolving conflicts among institutions and approving affiliations and mergers for all the schools.
The other would be a board of post-secondary education, which would take over from the Board of Education supervision of the state's 19 community colleges and 11 vocational and technical schools for such areas as strategic planning, accreditation standards, course and program approval and budget requests for state funding.
The community colleges' boards of trustees still would set their own budgets and retain authority to hire and fire their presidents.
The Board of Education would retain supervision of kindergarten-through-12th grade public education and the Board of Regents would continue to run the state's six universities. But the regents would have to funnel the universities' budgets through the coordinating council.
The regents also would provide oversight for state-funded programs at Washburn University in Topeka, but Washburn would continue to be governed by its own board of regents.
What power the proposed coordinating council would have over budgets of the institutions remains to be decided as the task force puts detail to a plan it expects to submit to Graves early next month.
Presidents Ed Hammond of Fort Hays State University and Laura Meeks of Fort Scott Community College told the task force that changes schools under the regents wanted in a proposal formerly agreed upon -- including the creation of a board only as an advocacy body -- are unacceptable to the community colleges.
Despite the appearance of an impasse, officials with Kansas University and the Board of Regents said the road to coordination among post-secondary schools was only temporarily blocked.
"There was an awful lot of progress made today," said Tom Bryant, regents interim executive director. "Now we're down to the details. And as you might expect, the details are a little harder to work with than the broad concepts."
Kansas University Provost David Shulenburger agreed.
"It's my understanding that the regents as well as the community colleges are still in favor of coordination," he said. "It's just going to take more talk to flesh out what that means."