NEW PORT RICHEY — With similar objectives and limited resources, the leaders of Pasco-Hernando Community College and the two school districts that feed into it are looking for ways to better cooperate.
Following up on a joint meeting from a year ago, the members of the PHCC board of trustees and the Pasco and Hernando school boards will gather Friday at the college's west campus. For three hours, they'll discuss how they can best work together on dual enrollment, college readiness and workforce preparedness, among other topics.
"We want to see ... for the resources we have, what is the best we can get by sharing the facilities and programs, getting more people ready for college by the time they get there," trustees chairman Dr. Rao Musunuru said. "We are looking at it as a continuum of education."
Pasco School Board chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong expected the conversation about dual enrollment to loom large. High school students can take college courses for free under state law, and the boom in demand has caused a crunch for PHCC.
"Dual enrollment is a big issue that concerns the college and the high schools," Armstrong said. "They have limited space. We have a lot of students who want to do dual enrollment. We have to look at the practical aspects."
Gus Guadagnino, vice chairman of the Hernando School Board, said he looked forward to the discussions that might arise with invited state lawmakers who are slated to attend.
"It seems like money is the big issue," Guadagnino said. "I don't understand why funding for a good education is a problem in this country. We really need to get up to speed."
And because the school boards and community college work with many of the same students toward a common goal, he said, "you can't have a disconnect."
Last year, not all the board members participated in the meeting. This year, just about everyone has signed up to come.
PHCC president Kathy Johnson looked forward to getting some clear policy directives that can help local education improve as it moves forward.
"It is an opportunity for (the board members) ... to really have an arena to express some interests and ideas in a setting where there is a collaborative dialogue," Johnson said. "It's very common sensical. It is time. At the end of the day, it is worth everybody's time and effort."
The boards meet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the PHCC west campus, in the conference center.
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.