College in dark on future

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 16, 2006

FERRIDAY &8212; The final proposal for the Louisiana Technical College&8217;s reorganization was approved by the Louisiana Community and Technical College&8217;s Board of Supervisors Wednesday, but how it will affect the local campus is still far from decided, Shelby Jackson Campus Dean Mignonne Ater said.

The first test of how radical a change the local campus will undergo comes tomorrow, when recommendations about the new Region 6&8217;s licensed practical nursing programs are made.

The proposal calls for the Louisiana Technical College, currently comprised of 42 campuses and organized into seven districts, to be dissolved and reorganized into nine regions.

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Region 6 will include Rapides, Avoyelles, Vernon, LaSalle and Winn parishes.

Ater said each campus has sent in-depth studies of each of its programs to the central office in Baton Rouge.

Shelby Jackson&8217;s LPN program is one of the campus&8217; strongest, and Ater doesn&8217;t expect any change.

&8220;Ours is very strong, and we had an excellent review of our program so I don&8217;t expect any negative recommendation,&8221; she said.

The plan is the brainchild of Walter Bumpus, the system&8217;s president. His recommendation follows largely the blueprint set out by Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Savoie in his February presentation to the board of regents.

Among other things, the proposal calls for each region&8217;s technical colleges to be administered and overseen by a local community college.

Region 6, however, has no community college in it.

The final proposal takes this into account calling for the nine campuses to be joined and called a regional technical education center.

This center will be headquartered in Alexandria and will be reviewed annually. The proposal stipulates that if community college services &8220;become available in the region,&8221; the technical education center will be considered for linkage.

Ater and her fellow regional campus deans met with their soon-to-be former vice chancellor Friday to talk about what it means on the local level.

Ater said she and her fellow deans didn&8217;t learn much new from the meeting but are keeping their eyes on the road.

&8220;I think most of us look forward to this being a positive thing and having opportunities we didn&8217;t have before,&8221; she said. &8220;But this is going to be wait and see.&8221;

In its 2005 regular session, the Louisiana Legislature passed House Bill 506, which called for the reorganization.

The bill cited a lack of institutional focus and inefficiency at the upper administrative levels in calling for the change.

The system has until June 30, 2008 to implement the new plan, which calls for the elimination of the Louisiana Technical College administration in Baton Rouge.

The system set as a goal June 30 of this year for the regional technical education center to be known as Region 6 to be in place.

Ater said from there the full implementation would take three years.

In the meantime, she said the uncertainty won&8217;t affect the way the local campus operates.

&8220;All we can do is continue to do what we do and do it to the best of our ability,&8221; she said.

&8220;We&8217;ll stay committed to our mission to serve the students, the community and the businesses the best we can.&8221;