State Representative Wayne McMahen published his bill to convert the Northwest Louisiana Technical College as the Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College.
House Bill No. 89 provides an expansion of its mission and educational program, including providing an educational program that meets the needs of the students and communities. It authorizes the college to grant certificates, diplomas, associate degrees, and associate transfer degrees. It requires the board of supervisors and regents to work closely with the appropriate accrediting body to ensure that the institution and all programs offered are fully accredited.
Since the initial meeting in January between Minden community leaders and higher education officials, the accreditation model has been the main topic of discussion. “There are some funding mechanisms, scholarships, and other things our students are not eligible for, but most importantly it’s our accreditation model. Our credits do not automatically transfer to the other colleges or the the four-year schools,” said Dr. Earl Meador, Director of Northwest Technical College.
Right now the NWLTC is one of twelve colleges operating under the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. It is the only remaining college under this system that is still accredited as a Technical College under the Council for Occupational Education (COE). All other two and four-year public colleges in the state have reorganized through legislation and are accredited or in the process of gaining accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Education (SACS COC).
McMahen has worked closely with Senator Ryan Gatti regarding the legislative action needed in order to begin this transition of changing the classification system. McMahen explained this will be a two-step process, “What we have to do is get the school reclassified first. That’s what the legislative process will do. It will get us over into the same classification under the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. This will reclassify us under the SACS COC system. Then, the accreditation process will take place after that.”
He clarified that this whole process could take two to three years. “Just because we get reclassified doesn’t immediately allow us to automatically start transferring hours. When we get accredited under the SACS COC system, then the students hours will be able to be transfered. Also, it will let us teach some General Education courses, like English and stuff that is a basis for going to a four-year school, not just the technical courses,” said McMahen. COE colleges are not approved to teach General Education courses.
He has been in contact with others around North Louisiana regarding this legislation and does not anticipate any resistance. “I have talked to some of the legislators, representatives and senators that are on the Education Committees. The others have gone through without a problem, so we are not expecting a problem. I can’t see why anybody would oppose it. We are basically just following suit to what the other colleges have done,” said McMahen.
NWLTC is currently charging about ⅓ less than the Community and Technical Colleges. The legislation will address permitting the college to begin charging the same tuition rates as the other eleven colleges under the LCTCS system.