Nevada community college independence bill ‘dead’

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Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, said on Wednesday his bill to separate the community colleges from the university system is dead.

AB331 was designed to divorce the state’s four community colleges from control by the Board of Regents. Three former presidents of those institutions testified they need their freedom from a system controlled by the Board of Regents that’s “university centric,” focusing on the needs of UNR and UNLV at the expense of the small community-based institutions.

They argued even the funding formula damages the community colleges, favoring the universities and rewarding full time students at the expense of those taking just one or two classes — the norm among community college students who often have full time jobs and family responsibilities.

“My bill is dead,” said Hansen when asked if the bill was set for a work session and possible vote before the Assembly Education Committee.

He said Chairman Tyrone Thompson told him they would work on the concept during the interim.

AB331 was the product of a lot of work during the last interim by retired Western Nevada College President Carol Lucey, retired Truckee Meadows President John Gwaltney and Ron Remington, who was president at Great Basin and at College of Southern Nevada before retiring.

Since the bill isn’t on a work session schedule this week, it won’t win committee approval by the Friday deadline for committee action in the house where bills were introduced. Under legislative joint rules, that kills the bill this session.

“The separation issue is not happening this session,” said Gwaltney on Wednesday.

They said the goal now is to try to save the Articulation and Transfers Board contained in the bill. That board would work to coordinate transfers of classroom credits from the community colleges up to the universities. For years, students have complained they were told by university officials their community credits in required classes don’t transfer to the universities, forcing them to take and pay for the same class all over again.

“There are a lot of legislators in this building who would like to see that get fixed,” said Gwaltney.

The two said they’re working on a plan to get the creation of that board included in some legislation this session.

Lucey told the committee during the hearing on AB331 during the recession cutbacks were much deeper for WNC and GBC than they were for the universities — nearly 30 percent.

She, Gwaltney and Remington said in many other states, the community colleges aren’t part of the university system.

Hansen’s bill would have created a governing board to manage the four community colleges backed up by a local board for each institution instead of having them run by the Board of Regents.

The Board of Regents officially took no position on the bill.


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