Florida Board of Education member seeks higher education focus
Most people think about K-12 schooling when considering the Florida Department of Education. But it has jurisdiction over state colleges, too, and State Board of Education member Tom Grady wants to pay some added attention to that side of the equation in coming months.
In a letter to board chairwoman Marva Johnson, Grady asked for more detailed conversation on several college-related matters. They included expanding the states's college to university 2+2 program, student fees, learning management systems, cybersecurity degrees and Gov. Rick Scott's initiative to provide more affordable degree programs.
Grady, a former Florida Gulf Coast University trustee, is a friend of Scott's. He was appointed to the board last fall.
Regarding student fees, Grady honed in on athletics, and whether they're worth the cost. He wrote:
Although I believe that extra-curricular activities are essential to a student's success in school, I am also sensitive to the financial burdens that some programs place on students and taxpayers, and thus request a report from the Department on the following:
1. What athletic programs are in place at each state college?
2. What is the cost for each activity within those programs and in total?
3. How are those costs financed or paid? Are they paid in full or in part by any student fees? Are those fees mandatory?
4. What is the number of students participating in each activity? In total? What is the cost per student participating?
5. What activities and programs have been added or removed in recent years, and what costs and benefits resulted?
Johnson said she expected the board to discuss Grady's concerns at future board meetings. She also encouraged others on the board to send in any issues that they want to see on later agendas. But she cautioned them, in the name of Florida's Sunshine Laws, to send their requests to commissioner Pam Stewart and not to her directly.