By MARC VALERO
AVON PARK — Less than a year on the job, Commissioner Richard Corcoran has convinced the State Board of Education to sign off on a new funding formula for the 28-college system, which, with more than 320,000 students, is widely viewed as one of the finest in the nation.
Corcoran, whose post-secondary education got off to a rocky start, attended two of what were known at the time as “community colleges” before graduating from Saint Leo University in 1989 and receiving a law degree in 1996 from Regent University.
Corcoran credits the state college system — which includes only two schools that still use the “community” college moniker — for his educational turnaround.
The new funding model would create “bands” to group colleges by size and, in part, would base funding on growth. The model also would address increases in the “cost of doing business,” according to the Department of Education’s legislative budget requested approved by the state Board of Education on Aug. 21.
Colleges with growing enrollment would get a funding boost. And the model also would create a process to support workforce programs that are more expensive.
The budget proposal, for the fiscal year that will begin July 1, seeks a $24 million increase in state funds in addition to the roughly $1.2 billion the colleges received for the current year.
South Florida State College Vice President for Administrative Services Glenn Little said, “While the new Tier-Based Funding Allocation Model remains a work in progress, SFSC supports the Commissioner’s efforts to provide funding to our colleges through tiers/bands (based on the size of each college) and with a focus on enrollment growth, high-cost programs, and inflation of basic operational costs totaling $24 million for our Florida College System.
“Additionally, we support the additional funding requested in this year’s Legislative Budget Request to cover the costs associated with expanded dual enrollment offerings, the Last Mile College Completion Program, and performance incentive funding for dual enrollment and workforce development programs for a total system request of approximately $50 million.”
The restoration of PECO [Public Education Capital Outlay] building maintenance funding for the Florida College System ($38 million) will provide critical funding needed for roof replacements and equipment repairs, he said.
“We support the LBR [Legislative Budget Request] and look forward to providing additional support for our students and community partners with the additional funding,” Little said.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.