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Posted: September 30, 2009 12:30 a.m.

BOC supports keeping GPC, DeKalb Tech separate

In April, a high-ranking group of education officials recommended that the state consider creating a comprehensive community college system by merging the technical colleges and two-year colleges, but now five months later, the County Commissioners are saying they believe those colleges should stay separate.

The education group was formed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to explore ways to improve education and save money and the merger was seen as a way to do both. However, community college representatives around the state including those in Newton County railed against the idea of a merger, and now local government has joined that cause.

On Sept. 15 the Board of Commissioners passed a resolution of support for keeping DeKalb Technical and Georgia Perimeter colleges separate because they have disparate missions.

District 1 Commissioner Mort Ewing introduced the resolution on behalf of a group of concerned citizens, who originally helped bring GPC to Newton County in 2006 by raising $2.5 million to pay for electronic aids and educational tools.

The group has remained semi-active over the years, and when talk of the merger came up, they met again and determined to bring the issue before the BOC, according to member Pierce Cline.

"It appears that (now) the danger of significant changes in our vocational schools and junior college divisions and the risk of a forced merger is small, but we just feel there is so much at stake, it’s so important," Cline said. "(By passing the resolution) we feel like the BOC is reflecting the views and feelings of the people in Newton County."

Cline said the group did its own research, including studying the effect of similar mergers in other states, and they were not impressed with the results. From what they read the merger neither saved money nor made the student transfer process easier.

In addition, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents recently passed rules making it easier for credits to transfer back and forth between

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