When the 85th legislative session kicks off Jan. 10, Austin Community College board trustees may have the support of several local government entities in the push to offer students a bachelor of science in nursing program.
On Monday, the ACC board of trustees approved a resolution urging the legislation to support ACC’s desire to allow nurses in the college’s two-year nursing program to pursue four-year bachelor’s degrees in the same field.
The resolution includes several other priorities created through a collaboration of subcommittees from Travis County, Austin ISD, the city of Austin, Capital Metro, ACC and Central Health, said Molly Beth Malcolm, ACC’s vice president of community engagement and public affairs.
Malcolm said the resolution must go before the boards of each government entity listed for approval.
ACC must seek special authorization through the legislation to be allowed to offer four-year degrees rather than two-year degrees, which is what ACC is currently designated to offer.
The resolution listed the following other regional priorities for the legislation to consider:
- Support the people’s right to govern themselves and work with their local civic and governmental organizations regarding policy and budgeting decisions
- Oppose unfunded mandates and arbitrary restrictions that limit the ability of local governments to fund needed programs for their citizens, including revenue caps and mandatory rollback elections
- Support the reform of Texas’ PreK-12 public education finance system, which increasingly relies on local taxpayers to fulfill the state’s constitutional responsibility to educate Texas children
- Support renewal of the Medicaid 1115 Transformation waiver
- Support state funding for a planning process to reimagine the delivery of mental health services in the community, including the revitalization of the Austin State Hospital campus
- Support state funding for significant improvements and added capacity to the Travis County portion of I-35
Even if state lawmakers agree that ACC ought to be able to confer four-year nursing degrees, the college would have to receive program accreditation through the South Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the regional accrediting body for higher education institutions.
ACC first began the process to offer a bachelor of science in Nursing in May. Provost Charles Cook said the entire process would take about two years to achieve.
The college tried in the most recent legislative session in 2015 to get a bill passed that would have allowed ACC to offer nursing bachelor’s degrees but was unsuccessful. Cook said that four-year institutions are strong opponents of such legislation because it could affect those schools’ revenue.
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