As state officials consider merging technical and community colleges into one system, some say it’s too soon to know what effect the move could have on education.
"Without any details I couldn’t even begin to say," said Michael D. Moye, president of Lanier Technical College in Oakwood.
A group organized by Gov. Sonny Perdue is recommending that the state’s community colleges merge with the technical college system.
The state’s eight community colleges are part of the University System of Georgia, while the 33 technical colleges have their own governing board. The proposal would create the first comprehensive community college system in the state’s history.
It’s an idea that’s been discussed by lawmakers and educators previously but has never garnered enough support to go forward. A state Senate committee will meet this summer to look at the issue.
Mike Light, a spokesman for the Technical College System of Georgia, said he believes any change should be made to improve education.
"That recommendation has two parts. It’s either to merge the two year colleges with the technical college system or improve articulation agreements between technical colleges and the rest of the University System," Light said. "That’s where the bottom line of all this is going to wind up: What can we do to improve education access to higher education for all Georgia students?"
Some oppose the merger because they say community colleges and technical schools have different missions.
"You’re talking about institutions currently with different missions. We the technical college don’t have a transfer mission. And that is the mission of the University System (of Georgia) institutions," Moye said.
Yet Moye said a merger could be positive based on past experiences within the technical college system.
"We’ve gone through some extensive mergers within the last 12 months just within our system and it’s very major. So to combine institutions from two different systems I can only imagine that would be even more difficult than what our system has experienced ... But those within our system were merged very successfully."
Light said a lot is up in the air.
"We’re kind of waiting to see what the next direction is but right now it’s nothing more than a recommendation," Light said. "We want a seamless education system out there."