House Bill 3348 spurs growth at local community colleges

(Courtesy San Jacinto College)
(Courtesy San Jacinto College)

(Courtesy San Jacinto College)

The signing of House Bill 3348 into law during the 87th Texas Legislature allows for local community colleges, such as College of the Mainland, to offer up to five bachelor’s degree programs with their two-year offerings.

COM is among several local higher education institutions planning to expand programming. Officials at San Jacinto College and Alvin Community College said they are assessing workforce needs and college strategic plans to determine how they will move forward with future

four-year degree offerings.

“We feel that HB 3348 has given us an opportunity to offer bachelor’s degrees in the future,” said John Tompkins, communications coordinator at Alvin Community College.

The first baccalaureate degree COM is offering will be in nursing. The first 20 students in the cohort will begin this fall, and the second cohort will be admitted, tentatively, in the fall 2022 semester, per the online course catalog.


“We are a responsive college,” COM Vice President for Instruction Jerry Fliger said. “All of our programs directly serve the workforce needs of our community.”

COM leadership and local lawmakers spoke about the program expansions July 1 inside of the new science, technology, engineering, arts and math building, which was unveiled April 30. State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, called HB 3348 “a godsend for students today,” adding community colleges will lead the state into post-pandemic economic recovery at an efficient cost.

Bills such as HB 3348 help colleges provide more robust offerings and work toward having equality of opportunity in postsecondary education, said state Rep. Mayes Middleton, R-Wallisville.

“It’s these kinds of bills that I think build a better future for Texas,” said Middleton, who was a bill sponsor.

COM offers the third-lowest tuition in the state for community colleges, President Warren Nichols said at the news conference. Key decision-makers review labor market data each year to ensure program offerings empower graduates to enter the workforce with skills that will be in demand in the next five to 10 years, college leaders said.

Community colleges’ workforce development programs help ensure the next generation of learners remains in the Bay Area, lawmakers and college leaders said. Earning a four-year degree at a private university outside the Greater Houston area can result in the accumulation of significant student debt, making higher education unattainable for certain people.

COM cannot offer another bachelor’s program until at least six months after the first one begins, Fliger said. The college is working with its business and industry partners to develop plans for the other four bachelor’s programs.

“We welcome and encourage the conversations with our sister universities to let us provide the opportunity for our students, regardless of what their career aspirations are, to come here [to COM] to continue that education,” Nichols said.
By Colleen Ferguson

Reporter, Bay Area

A native central New Yorker, Colleen worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact Newspaper before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. She covers public education, higher education, business and development news in southeast Houston. Colleen graduated in 2019 from Syracuse University and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she worked for the university's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange. Her degrees are in journalism and Spanish language and culture. When not chasing a story, Colleen can be found petting cats and dogs, listening to podcasts, swimming or watching true crime documentaries.



MOST RECENT

Frontier Waste Solutions on Oct. 1 will begin service as Pearland’s waste provider. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Frontier Waste Solutions to take over as Pearland’s waste services provider in October

Frontier Waste Solutions on Oct. 1 will begin service as Pearland’s waste provider.

Texas Medical Center coronavirus updates: Daily average hospitalizations drop 15% week over week; ICU sees dip in number of patients

Coronavirus patients at TMC hospitals number 2,107, which in itself is an 11% week over week decline.

Anyone 12 years old and older is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but must have a parent or guardians permission if they are under 18. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Friendswood ISD to host vaccination event at local campuses

Friendswood ISD will host a COVID-19 vaccination event in partnership with the University of Texas Medical Branch on Sept. 22.

Friendswood City Council adopted this year's tax rate on Sept. 13. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Friendswood City Council maintains current tax rate for fiscal year 2021-22

The tax rate for fiscal year 2021-22 was adopted and kept the same as last year.

Brazoria County has recorded three consecutive days where daily COVID-19 cases have trended down. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Brazoria County coronavirus cases trend down following Labor Day peak

Brazoria County has recorded three consecutive days where daily COVID-19 cases have trended down.

Here are coronavirus updates for Galveston County and the surrounding area from Sept. 2-17. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Galveston County reports first death in resident under 11 and more COVID-19 updates

A total of 52 more coronavirus deaths have been reported by Galveston County Health District since Sept. 1.

graphic
DATA: How population changed in Texas counties between census counts in 2010, 2020

Texas added nearly four million people between 2010 and 2020, according to the latest Census data.

There are about 6,100 students in Friendswood ISD. (Haley Morrison/Community Impact Newspaper)
Friendswood ISD facilities spared by Hurricane Nicholas, and more district updates

Crews were able to repair all windowsill and roof leaks, and remove all debris, in about six hours, executive director of facilities and construction Erich Kreiter told district leaders during a Sept. 15 board of trustees meeting.

Current Friendswood ISD protocols encourage community members to make their own choice regarding masking. (Courtesy Pexels)
Friendswood ISD leaders discuss revising COVID-19 protocols to encourage masking indoors

No changes were voted on at the Sept. 15 meeting. District leaders indicated they will not move toward language instituting a mask mandate due to potential legal complications.

The Cuban Flavor on Sept. 11 opened its restaurant in Friendswood.  (Courtesy The Cuban Flavor)
Authentic Cuban restaurant opens in Friendswood

The Cuban Flavor on Sept. 11 opened its restaurant in Friendswood.

At the Sept. 14 Harris County Commissioners Court meeting, County Administrator David Berry, top left, presents proposed tax rates to commissioners Jack Cagle and Tom Ramsey, Judge Lina Hidalgo, and commissioners Adrian Garcia and Rodney Ellis. (Emily Lincke/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County commissioners propose lower tax rates with split vote

While the proposed tax rate is lower than the current rate, tax payers may actually end up paying more since the values of homes statewide increased this year, according to County Administrator David Berry.