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Higher ed study moving forward

Gregoire, local legislators send the issue on a roller-coaster ride.

The possibility of establishing a baccalaureate program in Kitsap County rode the legislative roller coaster last week.

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire first declined to support the proposal, then changed her mind after the details of the request were clarified.

“I am encouraged,” said Charlotte Garrido, a Kitsap consultant who is working on the project. “The governor initially said she did not support this because she didn’t see the necessity of having a branch campus in Kitsap. But when we clarified that we wanted a university center – which is much simpler than a branch campus – she put the item back into her budget.”

Kitsap legislators are asking for a $212,000 allocation to the Higher Education Consulting (HEC) board to recommend options for a university center.

After this study, Kitsap will have a clearer idea of what schools will be involved, what courses will be offered and where they will originate from.

On March 7, separate letters from Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Sen. Phil Rockefeller to Gregoire stated they were not requesting a branch campus and that a university center was the end goal.

Gregoire responded immediately, saying she would support the proposal “because it will look at these alternatives.”

Garrido said, “Friday ended on a more positive note than how it began,” expected the budget to begin its final review either Tuesday or Wednesday and did not think final approval would occur until the end of the legislative session on Thursday.

Limited baccalaureate programs are available locally, offered through Olympic College and the University of Washington.

The ultimate purpose, according to Garrido, will be the establishment of an administrative center to coordinate all of the local programs.

Once this is in place it will be easy to create additional degree options.

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