Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Panel: Give us six more months on black colleges

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ANNAPOLIS — A task force studying college access and affordability will seek to extend its work by at least six months to provide a more thorough evaluation of funding methods for Maryland’s historical black colleges and universities.

On Monday, the Commission to Develop the Maryland Model for Funding Higher Education discussed a tentative schedule that would require submission of a final report by May 2008 rather than the Dec. 1 deadline. State lawmakers must pass a bill to extend the panel’s charter beyond Dec. 1, said Del. John L. Bohanan Jr., the commission’s chairman.

Several commission members said rushing to complete their work could result in fewer and more expensive bids from consultants who will analyze funding models for black colleges and universities in other states and see how Maryland compares. They also worried that rushing the deadline could produce an unsatisfactory report.

Advertisements for the consultant position won’t be published until Thursday, Bohanan said, making the original timeline unfeasible.

‘‘That doesn’t give you enough time to run a procurement, select a provider, have them do the study and have them get it back for us to write a final report, so we really had no choice,” he said.

In the meantime, commission members agreed to draft an interim report outlining the need for more funding of higher education before the 2008 General Assembly session.