Warner approves higher ed. bill
Gov. Mark R. Warner unveiled his proposed amendments to the modified charter legislation yesterday.
"The changes that were made were structural changes," Secretary of Finance John Bennett said. "It didn't change what was intended but made the intentions more specific."
For example, one of the amendments clarified that a Virginia university cannot be its own building official but can designate outside individuals as building officials, Bennett said.
The framework laid out in the bill, however, remains intact, he said. The modified charter legislation will go into effect July 1 as part of the budget bill.
The modified legislation sets up three levels of autonomy for Virginia public colleges and universities, level three offering the most autonomy.
"When schools first commit in August, they will automatically be on the first level," Bennett said.
Then, as schools meet more of the criteria brought forth by the governor, they will be able to gain more autonomy and move up through the levels.
The earliest any institution could achieve level-three status will be between May and July 2006.
"We're basically exchanging structural accountability for result accountability," Bennett said.
Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine said he supports the modified charter, Kaine spokesperson Delacey Skinner said.
"The lieutenant governor supported the restructuring bill, and a lot of that was after seeing how well giving the Medical College of Virginia here in Richmond more autonomy worked out," Skinner said.
She added that Kaine supports granting universities autonomy as long as tuition and employee treatment is not affected.
Candidate Jerry Kilgore agreed with Kaine, according to Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtugh.
"When he was attorney general, [Kilgore] was fully supportive of the concept of giving greater freedom to universities as long as education remained affordable and accessible," Murtugh said.
Some legislators, however, are worried about what would happen to schools that do not want to take part in the modified charter system, Bennett said.
"There have been some suggestions made along the way that some schools would not want to participate but I guess that's their choice, but we would still measure them according to these standards," Bennett said. "The standards we're measuring schools by are ones that institutions should be trying to attain anyway."