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Council of 100 to Scott: Veto Poly bill

Posted Apr 13, 2012 by Lindsay Peterson

Updated Apr 13, 2012 at 07:17 PM

The Florida Council of 100 has added its voice to the many trying to sway Gov. Rick Scott on the creation of a new Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland.

In short, don’t do it.

The arguments:
- The state cannot afford it “during a recession that has resulted in close to $1 billion in total being cut from the state universities.”
- The state cannot afford it when the fund it uses for new construction is in a deficit and “cannot afford basic maintenance on the existing university facilities”
- Starting from the ground up “is the slowest and most expensive way to produce more STEM graduates in the state.”
- There is no evidence that it is needed.
- The new Poly would be unaccredited.

The state has a model for a Polytechnic in Lakeland, outlined by the state university Board of Governors in November. It voted to break the USF Polytechnic campus away from USF after it met criteria tied to the Council’s “ten education reform principals,” the letter said.

Nevertheless, the Legislature voted to immediately establish Florida Polytechnic University, the letter said, implying that the move violated the Florida Constitution by dissing the Board of Governors, whose job it is to oversee the 11 state universities.

(It’s notable that two of the 28 board members of the Council of 100 are on the Board of Governors, Dean Colson and Christopher Corr. Three are current or former members of the USF Board of Trustees, Rhea Law, Jordan Zimmerman and Lee Arnold. Also Publix’s Barney Barnett, who signed the original letter calling for independence, is a Council of 100 officer. Has he changed his mind?)

The letter makes no mention of the man behind this move to suddenly split USF from its Polytechnic campus, state Sen. JD Alexander.

Alexander isn’t letting any grass grow under his feet. He took a contingent of Polk leaders to Tallahassee this week to lobby Scott. Among them: former USF Poly Chancellor Marshall Goodman, fired by USF President Judy Genshaft in December.

Alexander said that Scott has to approve the independence bill or there will be no money to continue to educate the current USF Poly students who are losing their campus.

Scott hasn’t said what he thinks about being backed into a corner like this.

You can read the letter here.

Reader Comments

Por (JohnQ) on April 14, 2012 (Suggest removal)

It makes no sense to establish a new campus during this era of financial crisis, and shame on those “leaders” who entertained the idea initially. The only thing this would accomplish is to draw money away from the already dwindling budgets of the existing campuses and make future budgetary negotiations all the more difficult when it comes to trying to adequately fund yet another University on top of the 11 we already have to find enough money for.  We should wait to establish the new Florida Polytecnic University, until such time as our state budget reflects that we can support yet another state university.  We can barely support the existing schools we have; we don’t need to take on the debt of building yet another from the ground up.

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