TOPEKA — A House budget committee approved a bill Monday extending Kansas’ nursing scholarship program to five private colleges and endorsed legislation making Johnson County Community College eligible for state subsidies for technical education.
Under House Bill 2482, the committee voted to extend financial aid to students at certain accredited parochial schools in Kansas. The expansion would bring into the fold Baker University in Baldwin City, MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, University of St. Mary in Leavenworth, Tabor College in Hillsboro and Newman University in Wichita.
“It’s with existing resources and the nursing shortage continues,” said Rep. Amanda Grosserode, a Lenexa Republican and chairwoman of the House Education Budget Committee.
The Kansas Board of Regents, which administers the nursing scholarship, estimated the current level of state funding would cover additional students at the private parochial schools. The goal has been to increase nursing school graduates who work in the state’s medical facilities.
The committee unanimously amended House Bill 2483 to eliminate a provision that would have dramatically broadened state financial expenditures on students seeking technical education certifications.
If left unaltered, the bill deepening student eligibility would have raised cost of the program from $125,000 annually to approximately $13.9 million each year.
The cost would be held flat by dropping language in the bill making eligible for aid students enrolled in a technical-skill track but not participating in a General Equivalency Degree program. The tweak would require students to dual enroll in GED and technical education offerings.
In 2012, Gov. Sam Brownback highlighted the importance of career and technical education for Kansas high school students by signing Senate Bill 155. The law succeeded in encouraging thousands of students to enroll in a technical college or community college.
It provided Kansas high school students free tuition for technical education courses. It also established an incentive program for school districts to get students involved in career and technical education prior to graduating from high school. The programs appropriate to districts $1,000 for each high school student who graduates with an industry-recognized credential in a high-need occupation identified by the Kansas Secretary of Labor.
“The value of obtaining an industry-recognized credential by the time a student graduates from high school is immense,” Brownback said.
The addition of JCCC to the list of higher education institutions qualified to seek allocations from the education performance-based incentives fund corrects an inequity in law excluding the college in Johnson County.
“The bill would only be adding JoCo community college as eligible for this funding,” said Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro.