Boston – Members of the Coalition FOR Community Colleges today applauded the work of the House-Senate conference committee for their work reconciling provisions of the FY13 budget pertaining to community college reform. The conference report was passed by both chambers this afternoon, and the budget will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
“This conference report is a step forward for the community colleges and their students,” said Paul Grogan on behalf of the Coalition. “The provisions in this budget hold true to the ideas that the Governor first put forth this winter, and when passed and signed by the Governor, it will be a transformational first step in making the community colleges even stronger part of the state education system. We thank the Senate and House, and the members of the conference committee, for their hard work on this important measure.”
The Coalition FOR Community Colleges: Putting Education to Work was formed in the wake of Governor Patrick’s call for community college reform in his 2012 State of the Commonwealth Address, and a report by the Boston Foundation calling for reform of the community college system. The statewide coalition of business, civic and community groups was created to promote the changes needed for Massachusetts community colleges to serve all students and live up to their potential as engines of workforce development – at a time when 100,000 jobs in the state are unfilled.
In its mission statement, the Coalition calls for a more aligned community college system, with a coherent, systemic mission under the Board of Higher Education and Commissioner of Higher Education. The Coalition supports a model combining local operational control at local campuses with coordinated statewide strategy and support, and increased resources coupled with more comprehensive accountability standards.
The new budget, approved by lawmakers today, calls for the Commissioner of Higher Education to lead the development of a revamped funding formula for the community college system that takes aspects of college performance into account. It also establishes a coordinating office for job training that will serve as a clearinghouse for all workforce training opportunities in higher education and provide needed assistance and information to current and prospective employers about opportunities within the Massachusetts higher education system.
“This budget rightfully maintains the essential focus of community colleges on their communities,” said Dan O’Connell, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership. “But it also sets a stage for the colleges themselves to demonstrate their success, and enhances their ability to work as a system to improve workforce development and ensure that we are preparing students for success, whether they transfer or enter the 21st-century workforce.”
“At its heart, this is about the needs of the students, the community colleges are a critical path to economic success, whether that path leads to further education or the workforce,” said Mary Reed, President of the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children. “By strengthening the community colleges, this legislation provides the opportunity for many more residents to lift themselves and their families to a better economic future.”
The budget provisions also require the Board of Education to develop guidelines for the search, selection, appointment, compensation, evaluation and removal of community college presidents, and give the Governor authority to appoint the head of each community college’s board of trustees from within each college’s geographic region.
“The more than 60 members of the Coalition FOR Community Colleges joined this effort because we believe in the critical role community colleges can play in closing the skills gap and preparing students for the 21st century workforce,” said Paul Guzzi, President and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. “But the work is not done – we are committed to working with the community colleges to ensure they get the resources they need to ensure their students succeed both in community college and beyond.”
For more information on the Coalition FOR Community Colleges: Putting Education to Work, its members and background on the issues, please visit coalitionforcommunitycolleges.org.