Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Browning vows to revive fight over dual enrollment fees

Katherine Johnson told Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning that his efforts will not change her mind.

Katherine Johnson told Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning that his efforts will not change her mind.

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning is abandoning his fight with Pasco-Hernando Community College over dual enrollment fees.

He's not planning to let the subject die, though.

"We're going to try to push them out of the driver's seat, and we're going to take it," Browning said.

The superintendent, his staff and School Board members have strenuously opposed the college's insistence that the district pay an administrative fee for students taking college credit-bearing courses taught by district teachers at high schools.

College leaders set the charge at $37.73 per student per semester, as part of a new funding model that lawmakers imposed.

That new law required school districts to pay tuition and fees for their high school students taking college courses. It came at the end of session and caught district leaders across Florida unprepared for the expense.

While college and school officials in other jurisdictions reached funding agreements, Pasco County wound up the lone holdout. The state Board of Education had summoned PHCC and Pasco district leaders to its meeting Tuesday in Gainesville to explain themselves.

Then Browning told department lawyers not to bother. He would give the Pasco School Board the proposal and recommend they vote for it.

"My hope is that will be the last time we do that," Browning said. "We're going to work with the legislative delegation to get that repealed."

He noted the district never challenged the tuition or fees for students taking dual enrollment courses at PHCC, or courses taught by PHCC instructors in the high schools.

But he couldn't get his mind around the notion of paying the college fees for work done totally within the district. He said it "defied common sense."

The district offered the college four separate proposals seeking to reduce, if not eliminate, the one fee. Each time the college rejected the ideas.

"The calculation of the fees is in accordance with Florida Statutes and utilized a methodology that was approved by the college and Hernando County School District," college vice president Burt Harres said via e-mail. "To ensure consistency and fairness among the three entities, the same methodology for determining fees was applied to the Pasco County School District."

PHCC president Katherine Johnson let Browning know in a letter last week that his efforts would not change her position. Johnson wrote that she considered the negotiations at an "impasse" and said she would send an invoice to the district for the fees and tuition the college deemed appropriate.

That amount is estimated to be about $515,000.

The Hernando County School Board approved its dual enrollment agreement on Nov. 5 with little discussion. The district estimates its tuition and fee costs at about $370,000.

Browning said he felt backed into a legal corner, with few options. So he will ask the board on Tuesday to approve the fee for this year and to support legislative changes for the future.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel Republican and Browning friend, said he backed the funding change, so the state does not pay for students' education twice. He did not see a need for the Legislature to get in the middle of negotiations between districts and colleges over specific fee schedules.

At the same time, Weatherford did not rule out clarifications to the law if needed.

Changes to dual enrollment funding are part of the legislative priorities for the Florida School Boards Association and Florida Association of District School Superintendents, as well as several other districts.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at

Browning vows to revive fight over dual enrollment fees 11/15/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 6:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Tribune scholarships inspire students to keep digging for facts



    When the Tampa Tribune launched a scholarship for Hillsborough County's top high school seniors more than 50 years ago, no one could have guessed it would one day be turned over to the newspaper's rival, now called the Tampa Bay Times.

  2. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel


    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.

  3. Photos of the week: 20 great images from around the globe


    This week's collection of the most interesting photos from around the world features a silhouetted surfer in France, images of joy and grief from England, a massive landslide in California, a life rescued and a life lost at sea, an image from the final performance of "the greatest show on Earth" and, just for kicks, a …

    BIARRITZ, FRANCE - MAY 24:  Guillermo Satt of Chile in action whilst competing in the Men's Qualifying Round 2 during day five of the ISA World Surfing Games 2017 at Grande Plage  on May 24, 2017 in Biarritz, France.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
  4. What to watch this weekend: Grateful Dead documentary, 'House of Cards' returns Tuesday


    The Grateful Dead: Long Strange Trip

    Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in Season 5 of House of Cards on Netflix.
  5. Florida TaxWatch calls out $180 million of questionable spending in state budget


    Florida TaxWatch, a Tallahassee thinktank, has released its annual "budget turkey" list that calls on Gov. Rick Scott to veto nearly $180 million in special projects tucked into the budget, mostly in transportation.

    Kurt Wenner, Florida TaxWatch's vice president for research, presents the organization's 2017 turkey list.