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Unfettered by silly government regulation, schools could gain page 2
Chartered University concept would give Virginia schools needed freedom.

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Date published: 1/2/2005

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For example, one state college has complained that the cost of a simple roof replacement skyrocketed by $40,000 because of interference from Richmond. Longwood University's replacement of its Rotunda (which was destroyed by fire) was delayed by months because of the need to route everything through bureaucrats.

George Mason University arranged for its partner foundation to build its most recent dormitory. By using private funds, the Northern Virginia campus avoided the "two-fisted supervision" that squanders so much state money coming out of Richmond. The result: The building was completed five months early at a savings of $7 million. The downside, of course, is that private foundations aren't in a position to do that everywhere, on every building, so the waste of taxpayer money goes on and on.

Colleges would have the option of managing their own human resources, information technology, and financial management operations, and be permitted to invest all tuition, fees, and other locally generated money and plow the investment yield back into the university (currently the state grabs the funds and doles it back to the colleges)--all of which imposes a market discipline currently lacking in college management.

In the end, the battle over the chartered universities proposal comes down to a battle over control, and whether that control should be centralized in Richmond, or the responsibility placed at the university level.

Those who believe that accountability and responsibility should go hand in hand, who support placing decision-making closest to the customer, and who know from experience that there is nothing magical about edicts from the state Capitol, should have no doubt about what needs to be done.


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