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Polytechnic will fight to remain a standalone university

The state's newest university is having to convince lawmakers that it deserves to remain that way.

House Speaker Will Weatherford continues to suggest that Florida Polytechnic University may be better off as a branch of another school instead of the state's 12th public university. Lawmakers who control education funding have questioned whether Polytechnic needs the $27 million it is slated to receive this year.

The school's interim leader would like to respectfully disagree. The school was given its independence last year, and the Polytechnic Board of Trustees is working toward that, said Ava Parker, the interim chief operating officer.

"This board is committed to developing a plan for Florida Polytechnic as an independent university," Parker said. "We believe that there is a place in the system for Polytechnic. We think it definitely will fill a need that's not being currently met within the system."

But to do become the state's "high-tech jobs" university, the school says it needs money. Already the Polytechnic board has decided against requesting $25 million in additional funding. But now, its expected $27 million allocation is in jeopardy.

The Florida Senate said last week that it would hold off on budgeting money for Polytechnic until the school justified why it was needed. The Senate's education budget now includes funding for Polytechnic, but not all that the school believe it is due.

Parker said she will work on that.

"We're looking forward to working with both sides to ensure that both sides match and that we are again fully appropriated at the $27 million re-occurring amount," she said. "We believe that we can demonstrate that we need that budget amount in order to adequately build the vision and implement the university."

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