Community College Senate Bill Approved by Higher Ed & Employment Advancement Committee

The Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee in Connecticut  has unanimous approved Senate Bill 749, which would permit the General Assembly’s approval over any action taken by the Board of Regents for Higher Education relative to its “Student First” plan and merge or close any of Connecticut’s community colleges.

The “Student First” plan was designed to stabilize the system’s finances and help end an expected $35 million deficit. In addition, the plan pledges to generate millions in savings by merging the administrative structure of community colleges while continuing the daily operations of the campus.

Several former and current Connecticut State Colleges and Universities administrators, faculty and staff oppose the plan, claiming it would deprive the schools of their identities and make the system more bureaucratic and difficult for students to navigate, according to the Journal Inquirer.

Sen. Mae Flexer, introduced and co-sponsored the bill, saying that protecting the community college system is high on her list of priorities.

“These institutions are integral parts of our communities and play a crucial role in educating thousands of students across the state,” said Flexer, a “proud graduate” of Quinebaug Valley Community College. “Adding the legislature as a check on the Board of Regents for Higher Education will safeguard against the merger or closure of our colleges.”

Rep. Patrick Boyd,  a co-sponsor of the bill, said he and Flexer has heard from students and teachers who believe the “community college experience” is being threatened by the current plan.

“Community colleges, such as Quinebaug Valley Community College, offer a uniquely connected college experience, not only between faculty and students but students and their community,” said Boyd. “Senate Bill 749 offers essential protections to community colleges as well as a sense of security to students and faculty.”

A large group called the “Reluctant Warriors” recently held a news conference to voice their criticisms of the plan before hand delivering a petition to Gov. Ned Lamont’s office that contained over 1,300 signatures.

The plan to merge the state’s community colleges is currently in progress.

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