The Kansas Board of Regents will have a public hearing this morning in Emporia on the proposed merger between Fort Hays State University and Pratt Community College.
The merger proposal was presented to the regents' Higher Education Coordination Commission a year ago, but it was tabled while the board developed priorities for the future of public higher education.
The same three-member commission will conduct the hearing today, but all nine regents are expected to attend the meeting and can meet to act on the commission's recommendations immediately after the hearing.
Under the proposal, Pratt would become a satellite campus of Fort Hays State University. The price tag for the merger this year is $1.26 million, most of which is the cost of placing 125 Pratt employees in the state's retirement system.
Pratt's Board of Trustees would retain ownership of the campus and buildings of the 1,500-student school and lease them to the university.
"People in this part of the state don't have access to higher education like they do in the eastern part of the state," said Bill Wojciechowski, Pratt Community College president.
"I give the Pratt Board of Trustees credit for the creativity and quality of their plan," said Ed Hammond, president of Fort Hays State.
Last year, the regents balked at the proposal, which had a $2.5-million price tag, saying too much of the money would go to property tax relief for Pratt County taxpayers.
Wojciechowski said Pratt County residents would see a reduction of 20 mills in a property-tax rate of 170 mills. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value.
Wojciechowski said Pratt's budget would increase by only $85,000 under the merger.
The hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. today in Visser Hall Room 330 on the Emporia State University campus.