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Archive for Friday, December 7, 2001

t adopt proposals about authority after input from schools

December 7, 2001

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— The Kansas Board of Regents tapped the brakes Thursday on several measures aimed at increasing its authority over higher education institutions.

Regents considered adopting the proposals and presenting them Monday lawmakers.

But after hearing concerns from community colleges and vocational-technical schools, the regents declined to endorse the proposals, promising to wait until later in the month after more input from the schools.

"We don't want to get caught speeding here," Regent Stephen Clark of Wichita said.

The proposals, initially recommended by a higher education consultant, would:

Make schools more accountable by having them enter into contracts with the regents requiring schools to meet certain goals and missions before being funded.

Establish the regents as the "central point of contact" with the governor and Legislature for higher education policy.

Dissolve the three separate regents' commissions, which are focused on particular areas of higher education.

The proposals had been on a fast track because last month members of the Legislative Education Planning Committee, composed of lawmakers on education issues, had requested the regents get its legislative priorities quickly in order. That committee meets Monday.

But Thursday, community colleges, vocational and technical schools and even regents members said the process needed to be slowed down.

The Kansas Association of Community Colleges wrote a letter to the regents stating: "We think it would be best to clean our linen in private rather than risk a potentially uncomfortable situation in public and or before a legislative committee, simply because time has not been allowed for fully understanding intentions and the seeking of support of all sectors."

Even regents members had lots of questions about the proposals. A more thorough discussion of the proposals are planned for the Dec. 19 meeting.

Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway said the regents' discussion was a "natural evolution" of considering the consultant's recommendations. He said he wasn't too familiar with the measures.

The regents unanimously approved exempting higher education institutions from having to pay the state architect fees for building projects, and allowing schools to handle their own printing needs without having to go through the state printer. It will require legislative approval before it could be implemented.

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