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PRINTER'S NO. 1676
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
1200
Session of
2015
INTRODUCED BY SCARNATI, BROOKS, HUTCHINSON AND WILEY,
APRIL 7, 2016
REFERRED TO EDUCATION, APRIL 7, 2016
AN ACT
Amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), entitled "An
act relating to the public school system, including certain
provisions applicable as well to private and parochial
schools; amending, revising, consolidating and changing the
laws relating thereto," providing for rural regional college
for underserved counties; saving an appropriation from
lapsing; allocating an appropriation; and repealing
provisions of the Fiscal Code relating to rural regional
colleges for underserved counties.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. The act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known
as the Public School Code of 1949, is amended by adding an
article to read:
ARTICLE XIX-G
RURAL REGIONAL COLLEGE FOR UNDERSERVED COUNTIES
Section 1901-G. (Reserved).
Section 1901.1-G. Legislative intent.
It is the intent of the General Assembly to provide for the
continued existence, operation and administration of the rural
regional college established under former Article XVII-E.1 of
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the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal
Code.
Section 1901.2-G. Appropriations.
Appropriations for the operation of the rural regional
college shall have preferred status and be considered ordinary
expenses of State government.
Section 1902-G. Scope of article.
This article provides for the establishment of a rural
regional college in a multicounty rural area that is underserved
by comprehensive community college education and work force
development.
Section 1903-G. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this article
shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Annual." A 12-month period coterminous with the
Commonwealth's fiscal year beginning July 1 and ending June 30.
"Board of trustees." The board of trustees of a rural
regional college established under this article.
"Certified public accountant." A member of the American
Institute of Certified Public Accountants who has a minimum of
five years' verifiable experience in performing audits of
government funds for nonprofit organizations with a comparable
or larger annual budget.
"County." Any county in this Commonwealth.
"Middle States." The Middle States Association of Colleges
and Schools.
"Partner institution." One or more Middle States-accredited
institutions of higher education.
"Rural regional college." A public institution of higher
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education which is established in a rural area and operated in
accordance with the provisions of this article as a college
which provides up to a two-year, postsecondary education not to
exceed the level of an associate of arts or sciences degree and
which is active in work force development.
"Rural regional college plan" or "plan." A plan for the
establishment and operation of a rural regional college under
this article.
"Secretary." The Secretary of Education of the Commonwealth
or such person as the secretary may designate to act on behalf
of the secretary with regard to any of the duties and
prerogatives imposed by this article.
"State Board." The State Board of Education.
Section 1904-G. Designations by secretary.
(a) Duties of secretary.--
(1) The secretary shall designate an established
nonprofit organization as defined under section 501(c)(3) of
the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Public Law 99-514, 26
U.S.C. ยง 501(c)(3)), which represents a rural multicounty
region underserved by a comprehensive community college
program, including work force development, to assist the
secretary with the designation under paragraph (2).
(2) Within 30 days of the designation under paragraph
(1), the secretary shall, in consultation with the nonprofit
organization, designate contiguous counties or parts of
contiguous counties to be served by establishment of a rural
regional college.
(b) Changes.--No sooner than July 10, 2018, the secretary,
with approval of the board of trustees, may add counties or
parts of counties to be served by the rural regional college.
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Section 1905-G. Designation and board of trustees.
Within 60 days of the secretary's designation under section
1904-G(a)(2), a board of trustees shall be appointed to
establish a rural regional college. The board of trustees shall
consist of not fewer than seven members nor more than 15 members
appointed by the secretary in consultation and jointly with the
nonprofit organization designated under section 1904-G(a)(1).
The following shall apply to the board of trustees established
under this section:
(1) Members of the board of trustees shall be
representative of the area designated under section 1904-G(a)
(2) and may include school administrators, community
education council officials, business leaders and government
officials.
(2) Members of the board of trustees shall be appointed
for terms of three years each, except that those persons
initially appointed shall draw lots to determine which
trustees shall serve for a term of three years, which
trustees shall serve for a term of two years and which
trustees shall serve for a term of one year. To the extent
practicable, from those trustees initially appointed, an
equal number shall draw lots to serve for a term of three
years, for a term of two years and for a term of one year.
Thereafter, all members shall be appointed for terms of three
years each.
(3) Vacancies on the board shall be filled by the
existing board. A trustee may succeed himself, provided that
no member shall serve for longer than 10 years.
(4) The secretary shall convene an initial meeting of
the board of trustees within 30 days of the secretary's
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appointment of a board of trustees under this section. After
the initial meeting, the board of trustees shall meet at such
times each year as the board of trustees determines to be
necessary to satisfy the requirements of this article.
(5) The board of trustees shall adopt standing operating
rules and procedures, bylaws and articles of incorporation.
(6) The board of trustees shall establish an advisory
council of presidents, or their designees, from institutions
with postsecondary education programs within the region
designated under section 1904-G(a)(2). The advisory council
shall meet quarterly to discuss employer and work force
needs, new educational offerings and general coordination of
service and facilities. One advisory council member
representing a community college and one advisory council
member that is a president of a college or university shall
serve as cochairmen.
(7) The board of trustees shall choose from among its
members a chairman, vice chairman and secretary.
(8) A majority of the members of the board of trustees
shall constitute a quorum.
(9) Trustees shall serve without compensation, except
that they shall be reimbursed by the rural regional college
for their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the
performance of their duties.
Section 1906-G. Establishment.
(a) General rule.--No later than December 31, 2016, the
board of trustees appointed under section 1905-G shall submit to
the secretary a proposed rural regional college plan in such
form and containing such information as the secretary may
require. In addition to other information which may be required
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by the secretary, the plan shall include the following:
(1) A designation of the name of the proposed rural
regional college which shall be the "Rural Regional College
of " or " Rural Regional
College."
(2) A survey of the educational, vocational and
occupational needs of the area and the means by which the
proposed rural regional college will meet those needs,
reengage high school dropouts to earn their secondary
credentials and postsecondary credentials or industry
certification, reduce unemployment and improve the employable
skills of residents of the area to be served by the rural
regional college.
(3) An operating and financial plan for the proposed
rural regional college, including a plan for the capital
needs and expenses of the proposed rural regional college.
(4) A plan by which the rural regional college shall
seek accreditation by an accrediting association which is
recognized by the United States Department of Education.
(b) Submission of plan.--Within 60 days of the submission of
the rural regional college plan to the secretary, the secretary
shall issue an approval or rejection of the plan. A rejection of
the plan shall be accompanied by a written statement of the
reasons for the rejection of the plan. If the plan is rejected,
the board of trustees shall submit a revised plan to the
secretary within 60 days of the plan's rejection.
(c) Plan approval.--Upon the approval of the plan by the
secretary, the rural regional college shall be considered
established.
Section 1907-G. Powers and duties of board of trustees.
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(a) General rule.--The board of trustees appointed under
section 1905-G shall administer and supervise the affairs of the
rural regional college established under this article. Subject
to any other law and to any regulations promulgated by the State
Board pertaining to rural regional colleges, the board of
trustees shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) To advance the mission of the rural regional college
in service to residents of the region designated under
section 1904-G(a)(2).
(2) To appoint and fix the salary of a president of the
rural regional college.
(3) To appoint and fix the salary of a chief financial
officer of the rural regional college.
(4) To hold, rent, lease, sell, purchase and improve
land, buildings, furnishings, equipment, materials, books and
supplies.
(5) To enter into contracts for services with community
education councils, schools, colleges or universities, or
with school districts or municipalities, and other applicable
or appropriate agencies and organizations to effectuate the
purposes of this article.
(6) To accept and receive gifts of real and personal
property and Federal, State and local money, loans and grants
and to expend the same.
(7) To make policies providing for the admission and
expulsion of students, the courses of instruction, the
tuition and fees to be charged and for all matters related to
the government and administration of the rural regional
college, provided that policies related to admission, tuition
and fees give preference to residents of the area designated
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by the secretary under section 1904-G(a)(2).
(8) To submit to the secretary for approval proposed
amendments to the rural regional college plan.
(9) To enter into contracts for services to high schools
located in the area designated by the secretary under section
1904-G to provide services, including area vocational-
technical education services.
(10) To approve an annual budget to be submitted to the
secretary for funding.
(11) To work with the president in the appointment of
all faculty and staff necessary for the rural regional
college's operation, to affix their compensation and benefits
and to manage all personnel matters.
(12) To appoint legal counsel.
(13) To exercise such other powers and perform such
other duties as are necessary to effectuate the purposes of
this article.
(b) Duties of board.--The board of trustees shall enter into
contracts, hold property and take other actions in the name of
the rural regional college.
(c) Initial partnership.--
(1) The board of trustees shall select initially a
partner institution to develop and offer accredited courses
and programs of study at the approved sites of operation.
(2) The partner institution shall select programs only
with approval of the board of trustees and consistent with
the partner institution's accreditation and shall be
responsible for staffing and evaluation and provision of
other support services as may be required for students.
(3) The board of trustees may contract with other
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colleges to provide curricula not available through the
partner institution.
(4) As the rural regional college is able to operate on
its own, a transition plan and budget shall be included in
the contract between the rural regional college and the
partner institution to efficiently expedite the transition.
(5) Nothing in this article shall be construed to
preclude the board of trustees from contracting for specific
services or programs following the transition from the
initial partner institution.
Section 1908-G. Officers of rural regional college.
(a) President.--The president shall be the chief executive
and administrative officer of the rural regional college and
shall perform all duties which the board of trustees may
prescribe. The president shall have the right to attend meetings
of the board of trustees and to be heard on all matters before
it but shall have no right to vote on any matter.
(b) Chief financial officer.--The chief financial officer of
the rural regional college shall give a proper bond in such
amount and with such corporate surety as is approved by the
board of trustees. The chief financial officer shall file the
bond with the board of trustees. The account of the chief
financial officer shall be audited annually by a certified
public accountant or other qualified public accountant selected
by the board of trustees.
Section 1909-G. Students.
Any individual may apply for admission to the rural regional
college established under this article, provided that preference
in admissions, tuition and fees may be given to residents of the
multicounty area designated by the secretary under section 1904-
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G(a)(2). In considering applicants for admission, the rural
regional college shall not discriminate on the basis of race,
color, gender, marital status, ethnic group or religion.
Section 1910-G. Tuition.
The tuition and fees charged by the rural regional college
shall be an amount determined by the board of trustees, in
accordance with the budget submitted to the secretary. The board
of trustees shall annually establish a separate schedule of
tuition and fees for students that reside inside the region
designated under section 1904-G(a)(2) and students that reside
outside the region.
Section 1911-G. Dissolution and transition of rural regional
college.
The rural regional college established under this article may
not be dissolved without the approval of the secretary. Upon
dissolution of the rural regional college, the Commonwealth
shall assume all assets and liabilities of the rural regional
college, except that such assets that are the property of any
partner institution that may be operating for and within the
rural regional college shall remain the property of the partner
institution.
Section 1912-G. Degrees.
The rural regional college established under this article may
award any type of diploma, technical or career training
certificate or associate degrees in the arts, sciences,
technologies or general education upon successful completion of
programs authorized by the board of trustees. As long as the
partner institution provides the accredited curricula and
courses under contract to the rural regional college, the
requirements of the accrediting agency shall pertain to the
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granting of such awards.
Section 1913-G. Funding.
The rural regional college established under this article
shall be funded by tuition and fees established by the board of
trustees and may accept appropriations from the General
Assembly, grants from the Federal Government, grants from the
Commonwealth, grants from private foundations, donations from
persons or any combination thereof.
Section 1914-G. Financial aid.
(a) Initial partnership period.--During the rural regional
college's initial partnership with a partner institution, a
student enrolled in the rural regional college shall be eligible
for consideration for a Pennsylvania State Grant and other
Commonwealth-funded financial aid administered by the
Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, provided that
the partner institution is an institution of higher education as
approved by and in accordance with rules and regulations of the
Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.
(b) Posttransition period.--Upon the rural regional college
operating on its own without a partner institution, a student
shall only be eligible for consideration for a Pennsylvania
State Grant and any other Commonwealth-funded financial aid if
the rural regional college is approved by the Department of
Education, is accredited or a recognized candidate for
accreditation with an accrediting body recognized under rules
and regulations of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance
Agency and satisfies any other institutional and administrative
program requirements as the Pennsylvania Higher Education
Assistance Agency may require.
Section 1915-G. Regulations.
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The State Board may promulgate regulations under the act of
June 25, 1982 (P.L.633, No.181), known as the Regulatory Review
Act, as necessary to implement this article.
Section 1916-G. Reports.
The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee shall prepare
and submit to the General Assembly written interim and final
reports evaluating the operation of this article. The interim
report shall be submitted by June 30, 2018, and the final report
shall be submitted by June 30, 2022. Each report shall include,
but may not be limited to, the following:
(1) A review of the success of the rural regional
college established under this article in satisfying the
goals set forth in the rural regional college plan approved
by the secretary and in satisfying the needs of the
multicounty area the rural regional college was established
to serve.
(2) Demographic and program data, including the
following:
(i) Numbers of full-time and part-time faculty and
student enrollments, in total and within curricular
areas.
(ii) Dual enrollment participation.
(iii) Credit hours taught by faculty.
(iv) Distance learning courses offered.
(v) Articulation agreements with higher education
institutions.
(vi) Lists of courses with fewer than 20 students.
(vii) Lists of courses with more than 50 students.
Where available, student data shall be disaggregated by
categories, including gender, race and age.
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(3) Student progress and achievement measures, including
the following:
(i) Retention rates related to student goals.
(ii) Graduation and completion rates after two,
three and four years.
(iii) Passing rates on certification and licensure
examinations.
(iv) Number of students employed within one year of
program completion.
(v) Placement into additional education or
employment in the student's field of study.
Where available, data shall be disaggregated by categories,
including gender, race and age.
(4) Economic and work force development measures,
including:
(i) Employer satisfaction.
(ii) Customized job training offerings.
(iii) Employment status.
(iv) Numbers of businesses and organizations served.
(5) Recommendations for future legislation.
Section 1917-G. Transfers of credits.
For purposes of facilitating the transfer of credits attained
by students of the rural regional college, the rural regional
college shall be considered a public institution of higher
education as defined in section 2001-C and, upon the rural
regional college being able to operate on its own, shall be
required to fulfill all the duties and obtain for its students
all the benefits of Article XX-C within two years of operation
of the established rural regional college.
Section 2. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 1966 of
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the act of July 10, 2014 (P.L.3052, No.1A), known as the General
Appropriation Act of 2014, that portion of the appropriation to
the Department of Education for the purpose of regional
community college services in section 213 of the General
Appropriation Act of 2014, and allocated as provided in section
1722-J(5) of the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known
as The Fiscal Code, shall not lapse.
Section 3. Of the amount appropriated to the Department of
Education for the purpose of regional community college services
in section 215 of the act of December 29, 2015 (P.L. ,
No.10A), known as the General Appropriation Act of 2015, 40%
shall be distributed to a nonprofit organization authorized
under article XIX-G of the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30,
No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949.
Section 4. Repeals are as follows:
(1) The General Assembly finds that the repeal under
paragraph (2) is necessary for the addition of Article XIX-C
of the act.
(2) Article XVII-E.1 of the act of April 9, 1929
(P.L.343, No. 176), known as The Fiscal Code, is repealed.
Section 5. The addition of Article XIX-G of the act is a
continuation of former Article XVII-E.1 of the act of April 9,
1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code. The following
apply:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in Article XIX-G of the
act, all activities initiated under former Article XVII-E.1
of The Fiscal Code shall continue and remain in full force
and effect and may be completed under Article XIX-G of the
act. Orders, regulations, rules and decisions which were made
under former Article XVII-E.1 of The Fiscal Code and which
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are in effect on the effective date of this section shall
remain in full force and effect until revoked, vacated or
modified under Article XIX-G of the act. Contracts,
obligations and collective bargaining agreements entered into
under former Article XVII-E.1 of The Fiscal Code are not
affected nor impaired by the repeal of former Article XVII-
E.1 of The Fiscal Code.
(2) Except as set forth in paragraph (3), any difference
in language between Article XIX-G of the act and former
Article XVII-E.1 of The Fiscal Code is intended only to
conform to the style of the Public School Code of 1949 and is
not intended to change or affect the legislative intent,
judicial construction or administration and implementation of
former Article XVII-E.1 of The Fiscal Code.
(3) Paragraph (2) does not apply to the addition of the
following provisions:
(i) Sections 1901.1-G and 1901.2-G of the act.
(ii) The reference to June 30, 2016, in section
1906-G(a) of the act.
(iii) The phrase "donations from persons" in section
1913-G of the act.
Section 6. This act shall apply as follows:
(1) Section 2 of this act shall apply retroactively to
July 1, 2014.
(2) Section 3 of this act shall apply retroactively to
July 1, 2015.
Section 7. This act shall take effect immediately.
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