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By CCW Staff  /  
2009 March 9 - 12:00 am

NEWS BRIEFS:

  • Pa. Considers Boosting College Grants, Limiting Tuition Hikes

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A key state senator is calling for an expansion of Pennsylvania’s grants for college students and strict new limits on tuition increases at most colleges and universities that get state funding.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Jeffrey Piccola is advocating an injection of $145 million into the grant program, which he said would help an additional 25,000 students.

His plan would offset the cost largely by eliminating tax breaks for the film industry.

Piccola, a Republican, also advocates requiring colleges and universities that get the most state funding to limit their annual tuition increases to the inflation rate.

Piccola cast his proposals as an alternative to Gov. Ed Rendell’s more expansive plan to boost tuition aid by more than $500 million a year by legalizing and taxing video poker machines.

  • Ark. College Agrees To Forfeit 22 Games Over Eligibility Issue

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas-Fort Smith women’s basketball team will forfeit 22 games this season after a random audit found the Lady Lions used an ineligible athlete.

The National Junior College Athletic Association conducted the audit at the school and found the player took part in 22 of the Lady Lions’ 25 games this season, the school said. After looking over NJCCA’s audit, the school reported the violations and agreed to forfeit the games.

The forfeits put Arkansas-Fort Smith at 4-22 overall and 2-3 in the Bi-State Conference East Division. The NJCAA is allowing the Lady Lions to finish the season.

In a statement, coach Louis Whorton apologized for the violations.

“As women’s head basketball coach, I am responsible for crossing all the t's and dotting all the i’s,” Whorton said. “This was a regrettable oversight and everyone can be assured that it will never happen again.”

UA Fort Smith athletic director Dustin Smith said there was no intent to circumvent NJCAA rules and that the violation was “an oversight” that occurred simply because of “human error.”

  • Delay Granted In Sentencing  Of Former Ala. Chancellor

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge has granted the government’s request to delay sentencing for former Alabama two-year college Chancellor Roy Johnson.

Johnson was set to be sentenced on Feb. 26, but prosecutors say he has more information that could yield new indictments in the ongoing investigation into corruption in the system.

His new sentencing date is July 1 before U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre. Johnson faces more than 25 years in prison and prosecutors said they won’t be able to adequately judge his level of assistance until the investigation winds down.

The two-year college investigation has produced more than a dozen guilty pleas, convictions and indictments.

Johnson’s testimony against former State Sen. E.B. McClain led to a conviction in January.

  • New Idaho College Misses Goal on Initial Enrollment

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) — Administrators at the new College of Western Idaho say they have fallen short of their first semester enrollment goal.

The Nampa-based college reports more than 1,200 students are taking classes, about 500 short of the target set last year.

Still, College President Dennis Griffin is pleased by the total and the high number of credits taken by the first batch of students. The average student credit load is nine, exceeding the projected goal of eight.

Griffin says the higher credit load will help the college balance its budget, while the enrollment figure illustrates the demand for higher education in southwest Idaho.

Voters in Ada and Canyon counties narrowly backed a measure to create the new community college in May 2007. The college has been estimated to cost taxpayers an additional $4 million a year to operate.

  • Fla. Officials Issue Pricing  Guidelines on Textbooks

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The governing boards for the state university and community college systems want to ensure that textbooks assigned by professors are actually used in class.

The Board of Governors has issued guidelines to make textbooks more affordable. The board wants course instructors or academic departments to document that all textbook materials that students buy will be used. 

The state Board of Education last month passed similar requirements for community colleges.

A 2008 state report found that students pay an average of $117 per class for textbooks in community colleges and $127 in state universities.

The Legislature last year passed a law requiring schools to reduce textbook expenses for students.

  • Wash. College Enrollment Experiencing Rapid Growth 

SEATTLE (AP) — Enrollment at Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges is up dramatically.

College officials say fall enrollment reached 134,000 full-time equivalent students. That’s an increase of more than 9,000 over the previous year.

Most of the increase is from the worker retraining program, which helps pay for tuition, books and fees for people who have lost their jobs. Worker retraining enrollment is up 20 percent.

If demand for community college classes continues to grow, school officials project they will be teaching thousands of students above the number supported by the state budget.

  • Delaware Tech President Won’t Seek Budget Increase

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Delaware Technical & Community College President Orlando George has told state lawmakers he is no longer seeking the additional funds he requested last fall during a meeting with state budget officials.

He says the additional $2.7 million for operating expenses is no longer appropriate because of the state’s budget deficit and the recession. George asked for the money in November to fund additional staff positions, financial aid and an associate in arts program.

Meanwhile, Delaware State University and the University of Delaware are going ahead with their requests for more money. Leaders from all three schools recently met with legislative budget writers.

  • Enrollment in  Louisiana Colleges Headed Upward

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Enrollment at Louisiana’s community and technical colleges is up this year.

It’s a nearly 13 percent increase, from 51,798 students in spring 2008 to 58,426 students this year. That’s according to the latest enrollment figures released by the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

The largest growth was at Nunez Community College in Chalmette, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina more than three years ago. Its student count increased by 27 percent.

Next in line was River Parishes Community College in Sorrento, which saw enrollment jump by  23 percent.

  • Surplus Bridge Moved To Link Two Colleges In Oklahoma

ENID, Okla. (AP) — A county surplus bridge has been moved so that it connects the Enid campuses of Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Northern Oklahoma College.

Ed Vineyard, the vice president of Northern, says the bridge had been used on a county road but could no longer support the weight of oil-field trucks and other vehicles using that road.

It now will be used as a foot-traffic bridge to connect the campuses, which have adjoining property lines.

He says the bridge also will serve as a symbol of a bridge program established in 2007 between the two schools. Among other things, the program assists students in transitioning from Northern, a two-year college, to Northwestern, a four-year university.

  • Group Asks   Schools To Move Ceremonies From Church

 MILWAUKEE (AP) — A group advocating separation of church and state has asked three school districts west of Milwaukee to move their graduations from a church.

The Elmbrook, Mukwonago and New Berlin school districts have been holding graduations at Elmbrook Church in the town of Brookfield. Waukesha County Technical College also holds commencements there.

School officials say the Christian megachurch is larger and more comfortable than their facilities or other buildings in Waukesha County.

But Americans United for Separation of Church and State has sent letters to the school districts and technical college, asking them to find a new location.

Attorney Alex Luchenitser says the Washington, D.C.-based group believes students and parents are being coerced into what amounts to going to church.

  • Neb. Students Awarded $12M  In Grants  To Attend College

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — More than $12 million in state grants were awarded to Nebraska college students in 2007-08.

The Nebraska State Grant program awards funding to the state’s neediest students.

The program reports distributing more than $12 million to 13,158 students to be used toward tuition. The average grant was $944.

Distribution is under way for the 2008-09 school year.

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