Both sides in the debate over Gov. Deval Patrick's plan to centralize the budgets and administration of the state's community colleges found something to cheer in the budget released by the House leadership last week. But we like the fact that, according to Ways & Means Chairman Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, its chief author, the overall proposal is a "hybrid" plan aimed at improving workforce training programs without sacrificing the autonomy of institutions like North Shore and Northern Essex community colleges.
A statewide group of chambers of commerce whose business members are thoroughly familiar with the needs of the job market in their respective regions, and have long experience working with their local community college to meet those needs, has formed to oppose the wholesale changes proposed by the governor and backed by a group headed by The Boston Foundation. The Salem Chamber of Commerce is already a member, and we'd urge the North Shore Chamber to join the effort when its executive board meets to discuss the matter next week.
There's no better evidence of what can be achieved under the present system than the new regional vocational school that will break ground in Danvers next month — the result of a unified lobbying effort involving North Shore Community College, the North Shore Chamber of Commerce and local officials.
According to the Massachusetts Alliance for Independent Community Colleges, the ability of these schools to "quickly identify and respond to particular local needs" is essential to "preparing residents for available jobs and future employment needs."
We agree and believe, as does the Alliance, that "this ability would be drastically compromised if management is centralized in Boston."
That's something the governor ought to think about when he's putting that ceremonial shovel in the ground May 9 to mark the start of work on the new vocational school.