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June 17, 2005

Melanie Mowry Etters
(850) 245-0413 or 345-9424

First-Ever Joint Effort to Secure Florida’s Economy Through Coordinated Policy Targeting Access to Higher Education

ORLANDO – Florida State Board of Education Chair Phil Handy and Florida Board of Governors Chair Carolyn Roberts announce the creation of a new joint Task Force on Access to Higher Education. This effort is the first major interaction of the two constitutional boards since the creation of the State Board of Education in 1998 and the subsequent creation of the Board of Governors in 2002.

Until now, conversations regarding access to higher education have occurred within the unique delivery systems and without active involvement of the private/independent sectors. The new task force will, for the first time, consider and recommend comprehensive educational reform that maximizes all avenues to quality higher education across the K-20 public and private sectors, without jeopardizing equity and excellence.

The task force will be strategic in its approach to review and assess need and demand in both the immediate and long term future of Florida’s economy, assess the capacity of public and private delivery systems and institutions to meet that targeted need, and determine budget and policy strategies to close the gap between need and supply.

"Florida students benefit from our unique K-20 seamless education system," stated State Board of Education Chairman Phil Handy. "As policymakers, it affords us the opportunity to strategically and systemically look at the future of higher education as a mechanism to facilitate economic growth and viability."

Policy recommendations will span the public/private K-20 systems and will be made by February 2006, in time for consideration by the 2006 Florida Legislature. To achieve this end, the task force was constituted to engage policy makers from all affected constituent groups. The public sector is represented by members of the State Board of Education, the Board of Governors, members of community college and state university boards of trustees, and school board members. The independent sector is represented by members of private career schools and institutions within the Independent Colleges and Universities. Members representing independent policy research organizations and key educational leaders of Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives provide a mechanism for the task force to not only recommend but to also implement policy decisions.

As the task force moves forward with its charge, institutional representatives and constituent groups will be invited to present reflections and recommendations so that comprehensive policy is both deliberate and inclusive.

The organizational meeting of the Higher Education Access Task Force is scheduled for Monday, June 20, 2005 at Valencia Community College’s Downtown Center from 12:00 noon until 5:00 p.m. The agenda and additional information regarding the meeting may be accessed on Sunday, June 19, 2005 at the following website: