January 17, 2007

North Snohomish Higher Education Debate Takes Center Stage

By Randy Hodgins

Yesterday, Senator Jean Berkey (D-Everett) introduced a bill (SB 5322) which would require the Office of Financial Management (OFM) to help with the initial development of an independent, four-year higher education institution in the Snohomish-Island-Skagit county region with a polytechnic orientation.  The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Shin, Haugen, Schoesler, Hobbs, Kilmer and Marr.

Reaction to the bill among some House members was mixed.  Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish) and Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett) feel the legislation could be premature and foreclose other options for meeting higher education needs in the region.  In response to a written request from Rep. Dunshee and other legislators, the UW last month prepared and submitted a conceptual proposal for a “two-plus-two” program which could be established in the area to produce baccalaureate degrees with a polytechnic focus.

The House Capital Budget Committee will hold a panel discussion in their committee meeting tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. on this issue.  Participants include Marziah Kiehn-Sanford from the Higher Education Coordinating Board, Everett Mayor Ray Stephenson, Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, Everett Community College President David Beyer, UW State Relations Director Randy Hodgins and Crystal Donner from Perteet Engineering.

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