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State Senator

Mae Flexer

Representing Brooklyn, Canterbury, Killingly, Mansfield, Putnam, Scotland, Thompson & Windham

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Flexer Leads Unanimous Passage of Bill to Protect Community Colleges

HARTFORD, CT – Today, the Higher Education & Employment Advancement Committee passed Senate Bill 749, “An Act Requiring Legislative Approval for the Merger or Closing of Institutions within the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities,” advancing it in the legislative process and bringing it closer to potentially becoming law. Senator Mae Flexer (D-Killingly) is vice-Chair of the committee.

Introduced by Senator Flexer and Representative Pat Boyd (D-Brooklyn), this bill would change state law to require the General Assembly to approve any action the Board of Regents for Higher Education might take regarding closures or mergers of any community colleges.

“Passing this bill out of committee unanimously sends a signal that the legislature is focused on protecting our community college system,” said Senator Flexer. “These institutions are integral parts of our communities and play a crucial role in educating thousands of students across the state. Adding the legislature as a check on the Board of Regents for Higher Education will safeguard against the merger or closure of our colleges.”

“We have heard from many students and teachers that they feel the community college experience is being threatened by current proposed plans,” said Representative Boyd. “Community colleges, such as QVCC, offer a uniquely connected college experience – not only between faculty and students but students and their community. SB 749 offers essential protections to community colleges as well as a sense of security to students and faculty.”

Authority to merge or close institutions within the Connecticut State University System and the regional community technical college system rests with the Connecticut Board of Regents. In April 2018, Board of Regents President Mark Ojakian put forward a plan called “Students First,” which would have merged all 12 state community colleges into one accredited body. The plan was later rejected by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, but was followed by another proposal that would have consolidated the 12 state community colleges in five years, rather than two.

“At the public hearing on this bill, I met with students who attend our community colleges including QVCC, listened to their testimony and heard the profound impact their school has had on their lives,” Senator Flexer said. “As a proud graduate of Quinebaug Valley Community College, I saw myself in these students and I know the importance of keeping the ‘community’ in community colleges. I’m optimistic about where this legislation will go and look forward to preserving our great community college system here in Connecticut.”

The bill now awaits a vote by the Senate.

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