A bill that would allow some California community colleges to offer certain four-year degrees has been moving through the state legislature this year.
Senate Bill 850, authored by State Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, would establish a baccalaureate degree pilot program, which would allow some community colleges to offer one type of baccalaureate degree on each participating campus. The bill was passed by the Senate Education Committee on Thursday.
Kindred Murillo, president of Lake Tahoe Community College, has called the bill “one of the most important pieces of legislation in recent years” in helping students attain an affordable and quality four-year degree.
The bill would allow many students, who don’t live near a four-year college, such as those currently in the South Shore, to pursue a baccalaureate degree more easily, said Roberta Mason, president of LTCC’s Board of Trustees.
“We feel it would just be another service to our area,” Mason said. “It’s hard now. People have to go away, sometimes a long way away, to get a four-year degree.”
The pilot program, which has a trial period of eight years, would be available to no more than 20 community colleges in the state.
Participating schools would be determined by the chancellor of the California Community Colleges and approved by the board of governors.
They would be required to meet a variety of requirements, including offering baccalaureate degrees “in subject areas with unmet workforce needs,” according to the bill.
LTCC and several community members have taken steps to show their support of SB850, including adopting a resolution of support and writing letters in favor of the legislation to senators.
David Jinkens, a former City of South Lake Tahoe city manager, wrote a letter to Sen. Ted Gaines earlier this month to urge his support of the bill.
“Having an educated population is a key component to economic growth,” he said in an interview Friday.
Murillo and other officials are already looking into which baccalaureate degree LTCC would offer if the bill becomes law, and if the college is selected to participate in the pilot program.
LTCC in the process of appointing a steering committee, which will help decide which four-year degree is most suitable for the South Lake Tahoe college. Some academic areas of interest so far are public administration, teaching and environmental degrees.
“I think we’ve got some nice options that work in Tahoe,” Murillo said Friday.
SB850 has been re-referred to the Committee on Appropriations.