Meanwhile, Rick Scott Vetoed Funding for a Grad School Which Actually Generates STEM Professionals

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Posted on April 22, 2012

By Bob Sikes –

Lost in all the outcry of opponents and the sanctimonious hyperventilation of supporters over the creation of Florida Polytech,  was a story which received only local coverage. On Tuesday, Rick Scott vetoed funding which would have gone toward FAMU’s new pharmacy school located in Crestview.

A $1.5 million gubernatorial veto of funding for a Florida A&M University pharmacy school in Crestview won’t delay the school’s scheduled fall opening, officials said.

The funds were among $142.7 million in expenditures vetoed Tuesday by Gov. Rick Scott prior to his approval of the state’s $69.9 billion budget.

“The $1.5 million appropriation would have paid the faculty/staff salaries and operating expenses of the Crestview Center,” FAMU President James H. Ammons stated in a Wednesday email. “Without the appropriation, FAMU will now evaluate how best to proceed.”

When asked for clarification on Ammons’ statement, FAMU Chief Communications Officer Sharon Saunders responded in an email that “the Crestview satellite is expected to open this fall as originally planned.”

Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, said, “Some money will be transferred to FAMU that will cover that $1.5 million for this year and funds will be put back in as a recurring expense for next year. So it will not hold up the project; that’s the bottom line.”

Did this little carve out go towards JD Alexander’s little project? Evers doesn’t say where this phantom money is coming from. The mixed signals on what effect Scott’s veto will have on funding leaves this fall’s opening up in the air. Lets take a look at who will be affected.

The director of FAMU’s pharmacy school, Dr. Margareth Lacrose-Pierre, told members of the Crestview City Council last month that 30 students will comprise the first class, with 30 additional students added each year. The school is expected reach maximum capacity in four years, with 120 students enrolled.

The college is working on developing affiliations with local and regional medical facilities, and has already penned agreements with the Veterans Administration, the hospital at Eglin Air Force Base, and Sacred Heart and Baptist hospitals in Pensacola, Lacrose-Pierre said.

“The University has planned to begin rotating advanced pharmacy students to perform clinical rotations in area retail pharmacies, hospitals and health clinics as early as this summer,” Ammons said in his email.

Ammons, Evers and former senator Durell Peaden are putting on the brave face, but the denial of a $1.5 million appropriation which was intended to go toward typical start-up costs is potentially devastating. Moreover, Scott’s pen put a $9.5 million investment at risk.

It’s fair to assume that the city of Crestview would be sure to benefit from the presence of a school which generates licensed graduate level professionals in much the same way that JD Alexander desires for his city. Is Scott picking winners and losers? Or is his veto a way to get back at FAMU and Ammons. Scott wanted Ammons suspended for last year’s tragic hazing scandal and was rebuffed.


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