Alabama House approves two-year college system board

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that would create a new governing board for Alabama’s two-year college system.

The House passed the bill on Thursday morning by a vote of 82-11.

Legislation would remove the community college system from the oversight of the state Board of Education.

House sponsor Steve McMillan, R-Bay Minette, said it will help the system further improve workforce development for Alabama residents.

“Our best hope for meeting these education requirements, workforce requirements and skills requirements, and academic requirements will come from the existing facilities,” McMillan said.

McMillan said the separate board would allow the Board of Education to focus its attention on K-12 education.

The state school board has fought the legislation and in March unanimously approved a resolution opposing the legislation.

“Our two-year colleges are the reason we are no longer considered at the bottom of the economic barrel,” board member Ella Bell said in an interview after the vote.

The 11-member board would be appointed by the governor and be required to receive approval from the Alabama Senate.

Bell said she thinks efforts to remove the system from the board’s oversight are an unnecessary power grab by the Alabama Legislature’s Republican supermajority.

“It is a very significant stream of money that comes to the two-year college system that I think they desire to control,” Bell said.

McMillan said only a few states in the U.S. don’t already have boards like the one designed by the bill in the Alabama Legislature.

Some lawmakers have said the two-year college system should be controlled by an elected board.

Bell said she didn’t think the board would be able to have any more focus on the two-year college system than the Board of Education already has.

Requests for comment from the Alabama Community College System’s chancellor’s office were not immediately returned.

The bill now goes back to the Alabama Senate.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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