Senate Bill 850 to provide Community Colleges with Baccalaureate degrees

On April 24, Senate Bill 850, for public postsecondary education: community college districts: baccalaureate degree pilot program, was passed as amended by a vote of 8-0.

Senate Bill 850, if passed, will be able to provide up to 15 community college districts with funding to start a pilot program to allow community colleges to give baccalaureate degrees under the major or field of study that the district needs.

“Senate Bill 850 establishes a pilot program that enables community colleges to help address unmet workforce needs in areas where local jobs are available, but access is limited to four-year degree programs that could make members of the local community more competitive for those positions,” Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo/Santa Clara Counties said. “This bill helps California address the growing need in our state and our country for a workforce that is more highly skilled and educated.”

According to Leslie Guevarra, the Senior District Representative, Communications, the bill will have certain colleges assess their critical needs.

After the bill gets passed, it will be up to the Chancellor and Board of Governors to decide what districts will get the support of SB 850.

Patrick Welch, the Legislative Aide to Senator Hill, says the bill is more of a test that will help community colleges in the future and hopefully be available statewide.

For now, it will only be available to up to 15 community college districts, and only one college within each district. But they hope by 2021, it will be available statewide.

The bill was introduced because of the gaps in the workforce. With this bill, they hope to fill in those gaps within the district, according to what the district needs. For example, San Mateo might have a lack of computer engineers in the workforce, so if the bill were to get passed and be available to Skyline College, the funds would most likely get sent towards a computer engineering program.

Taken straight from the official fact sheet, “SB 850 is one such program that will give students an opportunity to get the education they need to fill jobs in their communities.”

But as of now, the bill won’t be available to colleges until January 1, 2015. And will affect the 2017-2018 class the most, then by 2021, the bill will either be renewed or thrown away, and if it were to be renewed, they hope they can provide it to all the colleges in the state.

The bill, for now, is about setting a pilot program for the future. They look forward to authorize it in a broader context or for statewide evaluation before 2021.