Legislative leadership expressed a willingness Thursday to give public and higher education an opportunity to try a new plan for dividing responsibility for vocational and technical education. But if after a year the plan is not producing the desired results, the Legislature may take other steps - such as creating a single school board for all levels of education or adding a third board exclusively for vocational education.
The leadership met with members of a liaison committee representing both higher and public education that has spent more than a year developing a mutually acceptable governance plan for vocational and technical education and with representatives of the state Board of Education and the Board of Regents.The education leaders assured the legislators that historical governance issues will be manageable under the plan, which creates committees in each of nine Utah districts. The districts would submit vocational and technical education plans to the liaison committee, which, in turn, would cull out program duplications and set priorities and pass them along to the two boards for final approval.
Legislators were concerned that the plan has too many levels, is too cumbersome and that the differing agendas of public and higher education might still surface on a board that is equally divided between the two. There were suggestions that the liaison committee, in fact, be given the status of a board with more statutory power to make decisions.
However, the legislative leaders appeared willing at the end of the discussion to allow the master plan at least a chance to perform as its education proponents say it will.