ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer announced plans yesterday to do away with the State Board of Community Colleges and shift the $500,000 that would be saved from administrative purposes to a student grant program.
The surprise announcement came just days after community college presidents angered Governor Schaefer by protesting new reductions to their respective school budgets. But the governor's press secretary said that the two matters were unrelated and that the abolition of the community college board has been discussed off and on since at least 1988, when Maryland's system of higher education was reorganized.
Under the governor's plan, the duties of administering the state's 17 community colleges would be transferred to the Maryland Higher Education Commission. In addition to saving money, the shift would eliminate a level of duplication in reviewing community college programs.
Mr. Schaefer met with community college presidents Tuesday but never mentioned the change. Most community college officials learned of the decision when they received a press release from the governor's office.
The decision will leave the 17 schools without their own organization to lobby on budget or other matters before the General Assembly. Those responsibilities will be assumed by the Higher Education Commission.
Mr. Schaefer, in announcing reductions to help eliminate a $423 million deficit in this year's budget, complained that community college presidents and the State Board for Community Colleges had protested against their share of the cuts.
The state's 17 community colleges enroll 109,000 students and, for the third year in a row, have more freshmen students enrolled than the state's four-year colleges.