Some of the telephone updates President Judy Genshaft received throughout the day about the Florida Board of Education meeting on Tuesday initially concerned her.
At one point, Jack Wheat, Genshaft’s special assistant who attended the meeting held in Ocala, said the FBOE had voted to “hold community colleges harmless” by not cutting their budgets.
“We have nothing to say about our community colleges but good, and we hope the best for them,” said Wheat. “But as a seamless system goes, all the components of the system have to work and be effective, if the seamless system is to be effective.”
Later, when Genshaft spoke with FBOE Chairman Phil Handy, she was reassured that a proposal would be sent to the Florida Legislature that endorsed cuts for everyone in the K-20 system.
Secretary Jim Horne said in a statement after Tuesday’s meeting that the motion passed by the FBOE was intended to recognize enrollment growth at the state’s community colleges.
“At no time did the Florida Board of Education endorse the idea of cutting the budget of any one delivery system in an effort to spare another,” Horne said. “We have and will continue to work with the Legislature to determine an equitable approach to balance Florida’s budget while maintaining those programs in all delivery systems that support the priorities of our state.”
Horne said the board’s job is to make sure that no single education facet bears the “brunt” of budget cuts to spare another.
“That certainly is a reassuring comment,” Wheat said.
He said most of Tuesday’s meeting was spent discussing things the board has to accomplish, such as writing a presidential search criteria.
“There wasn’t a lot of action,” Wheat said.Time was also spent discussing tuition, which Wheat said is “still up in the air.”
The board is including in its proposal to give local governing boards power to raise tuition.
“There is a very strong belief that there needs to be a greater possibility on the part of the university boards to be able to control their funding in that way,” said Lauren Cain, director of communications for the FBOE.
“Bottom line, there was no decision made” during Tuesday’s meeting, Cain said.
Giving more power to local board is something Genshaft said is important.
“Local boards are so prestigious and so prominent, that if you appoint them, they need to have the power base,” she said.
Discussing specifics about giving local boards such power will take place during the FBOE’s meeting in December, and a proposal should be ready to present to the Legislature by January, Cain said.
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