Monday, March 2, 2015

Fiscal cutoff date winnows down bills

House and Senate committees continued to hear public testimony last week as the Legislature prepared for a Feb. 27 cutoff date for bills to pass fiscal committees. Several system request bills remain standing as the Legislature now turns its attention to working on a state budget and passing bills off the House and Senate floors.   

House Appropriations hears corrections education bill

Feb. 25 — The House Appropriations Committee took testimony on a system-request bill to allow community and technical colleges to provide associate degrees in correctional institutions (HB 1704). This would be done within existing funds through an ongoing contract with the Department of Corrections (DOC).

Brian Walsh, SBCTC policy associate for corrections education, testified in favor of the bill. He noted three fiscal benefits:

·         Education would be delivered within existing funds. The bill has no fiscal impact.
·         Corrections education would deliver positive financial impact to the state, bringing in $23,000 annually in taxpayer and societal benefits and a return on investment of more than $20 for every dollar spent.
·         An educated workforce is critical to meeting growing demands from employers. Corrections education would give offenders reentering communities the skills they need to find sustainable employment while reducing post-incarceration costs and chances of that person reoffending.


Veterans, compensation, dual-credit bills heard in House Appropriations

Feb. 24 — About 20 bills received public testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, including bills on veterans residency, faculty increments and dual-credit programs.

SHB 1825 would modify the definition of resident student to comply with federal requirements established by the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. Scott Copeland, SBCTC student services policy associated, testified in favor of the measure, explaining that it would ensure veterans and eligible spouses continue to receive educational benefits.

HB 1863 would require community and technical colleges to pay for negotiated step increases — up to a certain amount — even if the Legislature doesn’t provide funding. Colleges would be authorized to use local funds for the increases, up to 1.2 percent of each college’s faculty salary base.

Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director, recognized the need for step increases and expressed appreciation for the proposed cap on increment spending. However, he said the state should take responsibility for fully funding those increases.

“The community and technical college system has requested, and continues to request, state funding [for] these increments, but we have not gotten them for the past six years,” he said.

Brown said the governor’s budget proposal would complicate matters by under-funding faculty and staff salary increases and using tuition revenues to pay for the $28 million balance. 

“Faculty and staff salaries and increments are our system’s top priority, but we cannot manage increments and salary increases without general fund dollars from the state,” he said.

Colleges and faculty representatives are continuing to work on an equitable and predictable solution for funding STEP increases, he said.

Testifying in favor of the measure were Wendy Rader-Konofalski and Bernal Baca, government liaisons for the Washington Education Association and American Federation of Teachers Washington respectively.

SHB 1546 would allow tenth graders to participate in College in the High School and Running Start – two separate dual-credit programs now offered only to juniors and seniors – and waive fees for low-income students. College in the High School is offered in high school; Running Start is offered on college campuses.

Over the next several years, it would also phase out a newer hybrid approach offered by two universities. It’s named “Running Start in the High School.” Like the original College in the High School program, the program takes place in high schools, is tuition-free, and charges students a fee to help offset costs. The difference is that the program also draws funds through the Running Start program.

The bill aims to ensure that Running Start remains a college-based program and to standardize the funding sources for dual-credit programs.

Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director, expressed concern that the substitute bill would delay legislative action on Running Start in the High School by phasing the program out over two years.

We strongly support dual credit programs. As a matter of fact, in 2013-14 our colleges’ Running Start programs allowed 20,100 11th- and 12th-grade students to take college courses, earning both high school and college credit. And nearly 4,000 students were served by our college in the high school programs, a 12 percent increase from the previous year. We supported the original bill but we have concerns about the substitute. The bill should be clear that Running Start is a program on college campuses and college in the high school is exactly that: in the high school. Institutions should not be receiving Running Start money for providing college in the high school merely by calling it Running Start.”

·         Copeland starts at 34:04
·         Brown starts at 1:08:12 (increments) and at 2:01:35 (dual-credit)

Bill update

After Friday’s fiscal committee cutoff, here are the system request bills still in play:

HB 1704 (Pettigrew)Allows community and technical colleges to provide associate degrees in corrections institutions within existing funds through an ongoing contract with the Department of Corrections. This bill has been referred to the Rules Committee.

HB 1705 (Haler)/SB 5619 (Bailey)Ties Basic Education for Adults program funding to a caseload model. These bills did not pass their respective fiscal committees before the cutoff date.

HB 1706 (Stanford)/SB 5620 (Bailey)Grants permissive waivers for building and student and activity fees for active duty military. These bills have been referred to the Rules Committees.

HB 1961 (Zeiger)/SB 5977 (Bailey)streamlines statutes governing the community and technical college system by expiring old bonds, defunded programs, pilots, and waivers. These bills have been referred to the Rules Committees.

Coming up next week

Next week, floor action begins in earnest as members of the House and Senate debate and vote on bills to send to the opposite chamber. Legislators have until March 11 to pass bills out of their originating house for them to continue in the legislative process.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Legislature reaches first cutoff date: policy bills must advance out of committee

The Legislature reaches the session’s first cutoff date today: bills must advance out their originating house’s policy committees by the end of the day today to continue in the legislative process. House and Senate committees took action on community and technical college system request bills on corrections education, Basic Education for Adults, fee waivers and streamlining statues.

State Need Grant, streamlining statutes bills heard

Feb. 19 — Members of the Senate Higher Education Committee took testimony on two bills affecting the community and technical college system — one would make permanent changes to the State Need Grant for part-time students, and the other would streamline statutes.

Currently, students may take as little as three credit hours per quarter (or the semester equivalent) to receive or renew State Need Grants. Already in effect under the 2013-15 operating budget, this threshold would become permanent under SB 5638. Need Grant awards are prorated depending on the number of credit a student takes.

“With our students — non-traditional, many single parents, many have children, many have employment opportunities part-time or full-time — life does get in the way occasionally,” said Scott Copeland, SBCTC policy associate for student services. “This allows that momentum to continue so they can progress toward their certificate or degree.”

Copeland reiterated that the bill provides eligibility with no additional costs.

Senators also took up a college system request bill to streamline community and technical college-related statutes (SB 5977). Alison Grazzini, SBCTC legislative director, testified in favor of the bill. This bill is the Senate companion to HB 1961, to which Grazzini testified Tuesday during the House Higher Education Committee hearing.

·         Copeland testimony starts at 12:20
·         Grazzini testimony starts at 53:05

Senators hear how tuition plan would affect colleges

Feb. 17 — Members of the Senate Higher Education Committee heard testimony on SB 5954, which would tie resident undergraduate tuition to a percent of the state’s average wage for all public higher education institutions. The percents vary depending on whether the college is a community or technical college, a regional university or a research university.

The Legislature would be required to keep, at a minimum, the allocations provided in the 2013-15 operating budget, plus additional funding to backfill any reductions in tuition revenue. Colleges and universities could not reduce their enrollments below the 2014-15 academic year levels.

For community and technical colleges, the bill would reduce annual tuition by about $58.  However, community and technical colleges systemwide would lose about $7 million per year because the colleges set different tuitions for two-year and four-year degrees.

Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director, testified on behalf of Washington’s community and technical colleges.

“We do really respect the fact that you’re trying to reduce or at least maintain tuition because we understand the anxieties of high tuition and student debt,” he said. “[We] want to work with you continually on that.”

Anticipating savings to the State Need Grant, the bill would allow the Legislature to reduce appropriations to the program. Brown recommended protecting the State Need Grant from cuts and using any savings to serve more eligible students.

Committee members also held trustee confirmation hearings for Teresita Batayola, Seattle College District, Kathryn Bennett, Skagit Valley College, and Doris Wood, Centralia College.

The committee also took executive action on the system-request bill that calls for a caseload method of funding Basic Education for Adults (SB 5619) programs and made four trustee appointments.

·         Batayola testimony starts at 16:27
·         Bennett testimony starts at 18:10
·         Wood testimony starts at 31:12
·         Brown testimony starts at 47:46

Textbooks, advising, regulation cleanup heard in House committee

Feb. 17 — The House Higher Education Committee heard testimony on several bills affecting community and technical colleges.

HB 1958 would bar colleges and universities from assigning textbooks that cost more than $100, unless there were no comparable alternatives or open course materials available. Alexandra Minea and Robert Lasker testified in favor of the measure on behalf of the Washington Community and Technical College Student Association.

“If students are not able to afford [textbooks], often times they opt out of their classes and this prolongs their time for graduation,” Minea said.

She also pointed out that textbook revisions are often minimal and not always warranted. “What are the changes within these new editions? It may just be that the font has changed.”

HB 1961 is a system request bill to remove old bond statutes, clean up regulations and tie up loose ends from technical colleges’ 1991 move from the K-12 system to the two-year college system. Alison Grazzini, SBCTC legislative director, testified in favor of the measure.

“We appreciate the opportunity to participate in good government cleanup, thereby improving our ability to focus on the kinds of services that today’s Legislature has asked us to do, such as improving access and affordability to the nearly 400,000 students we serve each year.”

HB 1982 would create an “Innovations for Student Completion Program” for community and technical colleges. The program would include proactive advising and mentoring, new student orientation and student success courses. It would also include degree or certificate mapping and career counseling. An early alert component would connect advisors to classroom data so they could intervene when a student is at-risk of not completing. Students who drop out before graduating would be “recaptured,” and an attendance pilot project would be created at one college chosen by the State Board.

Jan Yoshiwara, SBCTC deputy director for education services, pointed out that advising is a priority in the system’s 2015-17 operating budget request. She also shared a concern about the possibility of an unfunded mandate.

“If funds are not appropriated to implement this bill, we would be left with an unfunded mandate and have to make very difficult choices between quality instruction and quality advising. We need both.”

Mary Chikwinya, Tacoma Community College vice president for student services, discussed the “Declared and Prepared” advising model. Incoming TCC students participate in student orientation, are assessed for college-readiness, participate in student success courses, and are assigned an advisor. Once students finish the first level of college math and English, they are “Declared and Prepared” and assigned to a faculty advisor who helps them stay on track.

“Career Coaches” help students clarify their goals and create an education plan for their entire course of study. “Completion Coaches” focus on retrieving students who drop out just shy of 10 or 15 credits of completion.

“We reach out to those students, try to work with them, help them identify what they need to complete — whether it’s at our college or somewhere else. They can transfer those credits back and get their AA degree,” she said.


·         Minea and Lasker testimony begins at 8:20
·         Grazzini testimony begins at 1:09:15
·         Yoshiwara and Chikwinya testimony begins at 1:21:47

Bill update

After today’s first policy committee cutoff, here are the system request bills still in play:

HB 1704 (Pettigrew)Allows community and technical colleges to provide associate degrees in corrections institutions within existing funds through an ongoing contract with the Department of Corrections. This bill passed House Higher Education and has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

A similar measure, SB 5354 (Hargrove), did not pass the Senate Law & Justice Committee.

HB 1705 (Haler)/SB 5619 (Bailey)Ties Basic Education for Adults program funding to a caseload model. These bills passed their respective higher education committees and have been referred to House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means Committees.

HB 1706 (Stanford)/SB 5620 (Bailey)Grants permissive waivers for building and student and activity fees for active duty military. These bills passed their respective higher education committees and have been referred to the Rules Committees.

HB 1961 (Zeiger)/SB 5977 (Bailey)streamlines statutes governing the community and technical college system by expiring old bonds, defunded programs, pilots, and waivers. These bills passed their respective higher education committees and have been referred to the Rules Committees.

Coming up next week


Next week, the Legislature’s fiscal committees will be hard at work before their Friday cutoff date. All bills in those committees must be passed in order to continue moving in the Legislative process.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bills advance before first cutoff date

One week to go! The first policy cutoff date is Feb. 20 and the Legislature is hard at work hearing testimony and voting on bills. Committee members in the House and Senate heard community and technical college system request bills on Basic Education for Adults, corrections education and fee waivers for active duty military members.

Committee considers adult basic education, minimum GPA for financial aid

Feb. 12 — A proposal to require students to maintain a 2.5 GPA to renew their State Need Grant received a hearing before the Senate Higher Education Committee.

Scott Copeland, SBCTC student services policy associate, explained that community and technical colleges already have a minimum 2.0 GPA. He shared several concerns about SB 5547: The bill could derail students, delay their time to graduation, entice them to take easier coursework, or create a roadblock for transferring to a university that requires less than a 2.5 GPA.

The Senate also heard testimony on SB 5619, which calls for a caseload method of funding Basic Education for Adults programs. Jon Kerr and Nick Lutes of SBCTC and Lori Griffin of Pierce College mirrored their earlier testimony before the House Higher Education Committee. (See their Feb. 10 testimony on companion measure HB 1705.)

Also testifying on the bill was Merrill Williams, a former adult basic education student at South Puget Sound Community College who will graduate this summer and attend The Evergreen State College.

 “I had been out of school for 35 years. I was a crack addict. I came in and built a community within the classroom. This gave me a sense of pride and dignity,” she said.

The Senate Higher Education Committee also heard testimony on SB 5676, a bill that would require the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges to offer more than one high school equivalency test, beyond the current GED®.

Lou Sager, SBCTC high school equivalency administrator, repeated concerns she shared Feb. 10 with the House Higher Education Committee on companion measure HB 1743.

“Please reconsider offering a less rigorous test that will confuse test-takers and employers, add costs to the test centers and increase the gap for those students most in need of the skills to get a living wage job,” she said.


·         Copeland testimony starts at 47:39
·         Kerr, Lutes, Griffin and Williams testimony starts at 55:49
·         Sager testimony starts at 1:33:19

House committee hears agency bills on corrections education, fees

Feb. 11 — Members of the House Higher Education Committee heard testimony on three bills affecting community and technical colleges.

HB 1704 would allow the Department of Corrections to fund associate degree programs in prison. Dr. Luke Robins, Peninsula College president, testified in favor of the agency-request measure. Peninsula is one of eight community colleges offering correctional education programs.

“Gainful employment post-release is a win for both the state and the correctional inmate,” Robins said. “Providing additional post-secondary educational opportunities for inmates is both evidence-based and cost-effective.”

Also testifying in favor of the bill was Loretta Taylor, Walla Walla Community College director of corrections education, and Eric Flint, a former inmate at the Washington State Penitentiary who earned an associate degree, funded through a private grant, while incarcerated.

“This has given me the opportunity to be a success, provide for my family and for those around me, and to give back to my community,” Flint said.

HB 1706, also an agency-request bill, would allow colleges to waive building and service and activity fees for active duty military members. Through rule changes, the Defense Department’s Tuition Assistance Program no longer covers those fees, requiring the student to pay out of pocket. This bill is the House version of SB 5620, which passed the Senate Higher Education Committee.

Alison Grazzini, SBCTC legislative director, testified in favor of the House bill.

“As you can imagine, we are concerned [about the] approximately 2,500 active duty military members within the community and technical college system who are returning from deployment. We’re concerned they’ll face additional fees when coming back to our campuses,” she said. “This bill picks up where the tuition assistance program leaves off.”

HB 1825 would modify the definition of resident student to comply with federal requirements established by the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014.

“We support this bill,” said Scott Copeland, SBCTC student services policy associate. “To be perfectly blunt, failure to pass this and align with the federal regulations [means] none of the current 15,000 students on educational benefits that our sector serves will be eligible any longer for their veterans benefits.”

This bill is the House companion bill to SB 5355, which the Senate Higher Education Committee amended and passed.

·         Robins testimony starts at 15:31
·         Taylor testimony starts at 17:41
·         Flint testimony starts at 19:48
·         Grazzini testimony starts at 44:17
·         Copeland testimony starts at 37:15

Student association-backed bill heard in House committee

Feb. 11 — Alexandra Minea, representing the Washington Community and Technical College Student Association (WACTCSA), testified before the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee on a bill to allow students to use electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards on campus. HB 1820 would require the Department of Social and Health Services to request the necessary federal exemption. About 19,000 community and technical college students are eligible for EBT cards.

“Our goal is to make it more convenient for students to have access to nutritional food on campus with the use of their electronic benefit transfer cards,” Minea said.


Adult Basic Education, GED® and budget details topic of House testimony

Feb. 10 — System representatives made the case for dedicated funding for Basic Education Programs for Adults at a House Higher Education Committee meeting. They spoke in favor of HB 1705, saying the measure would allow more Washingtonians to learn the skills needed to move up in the world.

Basic Education for Adults programs provide basic skills for adults who lack a high-school level education. When state-budget cuts hit, these programs are often the most vulnerable because they don’t bring in tuition revenue. Students pay only $25 per quarter for classes, but many colleges waive the fee for students who cannot afford that amount.

House Bill 1705 would tie state funding to a caseload model, much like the K-12 system. This would provide more reliable funding based on the number of students who actually come through the door.

Jon Kerr, SBCTC Basic Education for Adults director, testified in favor of the agency-request bill, noting that about 700,000 Washington adults lack basic skills needed for college and careers.

“Stable caseload funding would allow us to expand capacity, greatly increasing student access, transition to postsecondary education and completion,” he said. “And most importantly, it would provide family sustaining job opportunities for our basic skills adults while meeting the needs of Washington’s 21st century workforce.”

Nick Lutes, SBCTC operating budget director, discussed the policy goals behind the bill. “Basic skills has suffered during the recession,” he said. “The policy goal here is to isolate and dedicate funding for the program.”

Lori Griffin, Pierce College dean for transitional education, gave examples of innovative and successful basic education programs. These include I-DEA (Integrated Digital English Acceleration), an English language program that uses a “flipped” classroom approach. Students complete online modules to learn, practice and develop knowledge of concepts before coming to class. They then use classroom time to apply and practice what they’ve learned.

Taleah Mitchell, discussed how she went from a fourth-grade level education in Chicago to becoming an assistant manager at Nordstrom thanks to Seattle Central College’s I-BEST program. I-BEST pairs basic education with hands-on job experience so students learn in real-world settings.

“I had a whole plethora of people not only supporting me but giving me the structure and skills and teaching me how to take that next step,” she said.

The Higher Education Committee also turned its attention to HB 1743. The bill would require the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges to offer another type of high school equivalency test in addition to the 2014 GED®.

Lou Sager, SBCTC high school equivalency administrator, explained that the GED® was selected by an independent group of adult educators and other stakeholders. They compared the costs and rigor of various tests and recommended the GED®. The pass rate in Washington is 71 percent, she said. And while the number of students taking the test has dropped, that’s typical whenever a new test is launched. The new test has only been in effect for one year and faculty face a learning curve with the curricula.

“The new test began just a year ago, so we’ve only had a year to look at it. We have a 71 percent pass rate, which we’re very proud of, as it is one of the highest in the nation,” she said in testimony.

Sager explained that she took the GED® when she was a welfare mother of three in 1993. “I am the last person who would ever want to put a barrier in front of a student to get a living wage job or further education,” she said.

The committee moved onto HB 1893, which would require SBCTC to post on its website detailed budget information about the use of local funds at each of the 34 colleges. Nick Lutes, SBCTC operating budget director, explained that the agency is already required to report revenue sources by college and how tuition revenue is spent. Students are given a link on their tuition statements. SBCTC also posts online an “Academic Year Report,” which provides multiple perspectives on college expenditures.

Several faculty members spoke in favor of both HB 1743 and HB 1893.

·         Sager testimony starts at 34:54

Faculty compensation bill comes before House Labor Committee

Feb. 10 — Community and technical college faculty have gone without state funding for step increases since 2008. Increments or step increases are funded through a combination of local turnover savings and state funds. State funds cover about two-thirds of the cost. The lack of state funding has resulted in faculty only receiving partial payment for their earned step increases.

HB 1863 would require community and technical colleges to fund negotiated step increases — up to a certain amount — even if the Legislature doesn’t provide funding. The cap is 1.2 percent of the college’s faculty salary base.

Testifying before the House Labor Committee, Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director, expressed appreciation for faculty representatives’ support of a cap. However, he said the Legislature should bear the responsibility for funding faculty compensation. Brown urged the Legislature to fund the community and technical college system’s $10.2 million request for faculty step increases.

“We believe this has been, and should be, primarily a state obligation,” he said. “Faculty and staff salaries and increments are our system’s top priority but we can’t manage increments and salary increases without general fund dollars from the state. We will continue to work with our faculty and work with you to get an equitable and predictable solution to our faculty and colleges.”

The governor’s compensation proposal would make matters worse, Brown said, because it would pay only the general fund portion of salaries, resulting in a $28 million unfunded mandate.

Testifying in favor of the measure were Wendy Rader-Konofalski and Bernal Baca, government liaisons for the Washington Education Association and American Federation of Teachers Washington respectively. Both said they welcome continued conversation with the State Board and college presidents to find a solution. Several faculty members also spoke in favor of the bill.


Coming up next week


Next week, the Legislative session reaches its first cutoff date — bills must be passed out of their house of origin’s policy committees by the end of Friday. SBCTC system request bills on corrections education and military member fee waivers are scheduled for committee votes, and a bill to streamline statues affecting the college system is scheduled for a public hearing.

Friday, February 6, 2015

400 students, 1 message: don't cut the future

Week four of legislative session featured a powerful student rally and the introduction of many more bills, bringing the total count to about 2,000 bills thus far. System representatives testified on several measures, including veterans bills, the governor’s proposed capital budget and the MESA Community College program.

Students rally in support of community and technical colleges
Community and technical college students rally in Olympia in support of higher education
Feb. 5 — About 400 community and technical college students from across the state rallied in the Legislative Building’s rotunda in a show of support for their colleges. Students held signs, chanted and cheered as they listened to speakers talk about college affordability, completion, financial aid and support for higher education.

“I want you to promise me that you’re going to get through school,” said Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “Don’t let anything stop you.”

Community and technical college students rally in Olympia in support of higher educationStudents wore t-shirts saying “34 colleges one voice” and “Basic education has evolved — support K-14” in reference to the 2012 McCleary state Supreme Court decision that mandates the state fully fund basic education. Many also held signs supporting legislation that would allow students to fully use Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) on campus. Signs also expressed concern about tuition, state funding and textbook affordability.

This is the sixth year students gathered for the event organized by the Washington Community and Technical College Student Association (WCTCSA).

Community and technical college students rally in Olympia in support of higher educationStudents also heard from Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland; Rep. Melanie Stambaugh R-Puyallup; Rep. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup; Debrena Jackson Gandy, Highline College trustee; Ed Brewster, Grays Harbor president; Ryan ChapmanWACTCSA Region 2 representative from Bellingham Technical College; Christopher Johnston, WACTCSA Region 6 representative from Pierce College Fort Steilacoom; LaTonya BrisbaneWACTCSA executive; and Robert Lasker, WCTCSA president and SBCTC legislative intern from Pierce College Fort Steilacoom.

Senators hear veterans bills, move forward trustee appointments

Feb. 5 — The Senate Higher Education Committee heard testimony on a system request bill to waive building fees and service and activity fees for active duty service members (SB 5620). Through rule changes, the Defense Department’s Tuition Assistance Program no longer covers those fees, leaving a gap in funding that the student needs to make up.

“This bill picks up where the Tuition Assistance Program leaves off,” testified Alison Grazzini, SBCTC legislative director.

The committee also heard testimony on SB 5355, which would modify the definition of resident student to comply with federal requirements established by the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014.

Scott Copeland, SBCTC student affairs policy associate testified in favor of the bill.

“If we do not align with federal [requirements], all of our veterans are ineligible to participate in VA educational benefits so we must align to protect our current 15,000 students in the community and technical college sector as well as our future veterans,” Copeland said.

Senators also heard from Michael Ciraulo, Clark College trustee appointee, Elizabeth Thew and Janice Wigen, Community Colleges of Spokane trustee appointees as part of their appointment process. The committee voted to move forward Michael Deller, Everett Community College and Stassney Obregon, Bellevue College, to the next stage in the confirmation process after hearing their testimony at the committee’s Feb. 3 hearing.

·         Grazzini testimony starts at 1:46:07
·         Copeland testimony starts at 1:32:16
·         Wigen testimony starts at 19:10
·         Thew testimony starts at 21:25
·         Ciraulo testimony starts at 22:50

House members hear testimony on College in the High School

Feb. 5 — The House Higher Education Committee heard testimony on a bill aimed at making the College in the High School program more affordable for students and more relevant for those who transfer to the participating college.

Students in the program earn high school and college credits simultaneously in an advanced high school class taught by an instructor certified by the college. Students pay a fee for college credits based on the contract between the individual school and partnering college, so the fees vary between high schools.

HB 1546 seeks to provide subsidies for low-income students (subject to an appropriation in the state budget) and to limit the per-credit fee for all other students. It would also require a high school class to have a counterpart class on the college campus and satisfy general education or a degree requirement at the college.

Scott Copeland, SBCTC student services policy associate, testified in favor of the measure.

“This is an equity and access issue. Students who can afford to pay for the credit get the credit. Students sitting right next to themwith some exceptions by school districts generous to pay for the creditare learning the same material and not receiving the college credit,” he said.

Copeland expressed hope that College in the High School will also include career and technical education courses. 


Proposed capital budget heard in Senate Ways & Means

Feb. 5 — Community and technical college presidents testified on SB 5097, the governor’s proposed capital budget, at a public hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Speaking on behalf of the community and technical college system, Cascadia College President Eric Murray explained the proposed funding for the community and technical college system is significantly less than it has been historically. In addition, five out of six construction projects slated for next biennium would receive only about 90 percent of the construction funding, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to rectify.

Luke Robbins, Peninsula College president, urged full funding for the construction phase of a new Allied Health building.  “SB 5097 proposes to cut the construction phase by 10 percent below our most recent estimated cost. Funding the project at this level would require redesign and reduce the scope of the project.” Underfunding the project would also create higher ongoing operating and maintenance costs, he said.

Nate Langstraat, Whatcom Community College vice president for administrative services, asked for full funding for the construction phase of a new Learning Commons. The building will integrate tutoring, a math center, a writing center and the library — all of which are now scattered throughout the campus in makeshift spaces.

“Delaying the funding of the construction phase will result in additional costs to the state. If not funded now, the design will need to be updated later and construction costs will escalate,” he said.

Cheryl Roberts, Shoreline Community College president, urged the Legislature to approve a capital budget that fully funds the community and technical college system’s prioritized list of capital projects. This would include funds for the design phase of an Allied Health, Science and Manufacturing facility at Shoreline.

“We have a concern because our design phase is not included in the funding,” she said. “This project will replace five, one-story, mid-century structures with one, four-story facility that would include our science, engineering, allied health, nursing, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing.”


MESA Community College Program topic of Senate work session on STEM

Feb. 4 — Using remote testimony, a method new to the Legislature this year to make testifying before committees easier for people around the state, the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee heard testimony from Columbia Basin College on the benefits of the Mathematics, Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Community College program.

The MESA Community College program helps underrepresented community college students excel in school and ultimately earn STEM bachelor’s degrees. The program features intrusive advising, tutors and peer support to help students stay on track to graduation and ensure a smooth transition to a university.

The testimony on MESA Community College program was part of the committee’s work session on STEM industries, jobs and training opportunities in the state.

“If STEM education is about educating the pipeline that is going to create and continue to create wealth for Washington state, we need to have programs like MESA which serve many under-privileged, many first generation students,” said Rich Cummins, Columbia Basin College president.

He pointed out that 90 percent of MESA Community College program students continue on to earn a four-year degree in math, engineering and science.

Also testifying on behalf of Columbia Basin College were Gabriela Whitemarsh, MESA Community College program director, and Lesly Ibarra and Ginger McCormick, both MESA students.

“Being a member of the MESA program has been very rewarding,” Ibarra said. “Not only do we have each other, but we also have MESA tutors that help us with subjects like science, math, physics.”

McCormick echoed Ibarra’s praise for the MESA Community College program.

“The second I joined MESA, Gabriela helped me with advising and she helped me take classes that really counted toward my major,” McCormick said. “Not only classes that helped get my associate’s done, but classes that helped toward my bachelor’s degree as well.”

Columbia Basin, Olympic, Edmonds, Highline, Seattle Central and Yakima Valley colleges currently host MESA programs. The community and technical college system is looking for $4.56 million in the 2015-2017 operating budget to expand program offerings to 20 colleges.

Also testifying before the committee was Kathy Goebel, SBCTC policy associate for economic development. Goebel outlined how colleges and SBCTC are preparing students for STEM careers and how those students contribute to economic development across the state. She stressed that STEM fields are seeing more interest from students.

“Our colleges build a knowledgeable and highly skilled workforce,” Goebel said. “We create responsive and relevant programs for today’s competitive economy. And our colleges and students contribute more than $11 billion annually to the state’s economy all leading to a more competitive and vibrant state economy.”

·         Cummins testimony starts at 1:08:28
·         Whitemarsh testimony starts at 1:14:36
·         Ibarra testimony starts at 1:20:17
·         McCormick testimony starts at 1:21:46
·         Goebel testimony starts at 19:20


Senate committee hears from trustee nominees, bills on sexual assault prevention and response on campuses

Feb. 3 — Members of the Senate Higher Education Committee heard testimony on two bills addressing sexual assault prevention and response on campuses. SB 5518 would create procedures to address campus sexual violence and SB 5719 would create a task force on campus sexual violence prevention. Joe Holliday, SBCTC director of student services, testified on both bills jointly.

We support both bills,” he said. “We pledge to continue to collaborate with you and with our higher education partners to keep sexual assault prevention and response a high priority.”

Holliday expressed concerns about the cost of a statewide public awareness campaign mandated by SB 5518 and ensuring clarity between federal and state requirements as colleges develop rules. He also reminded committee members that the proposals in the bills need to take into account that community and technical colleges are different environments than four-year universities.

The committee also held trustee confirmation hearings for Michael Deller, Everett Community College and Stassney Obregon, Bellevue College.

·         Deller’s testimony starts at 2:40
·         Obregon’s testimony starts at 5:44
·         Link to Holliday’s testimony starts at 1:54:04

Senators hear bill that would expand applied baccalaureate offerings

Feb. 2Joyce Hammer, SBCTC director of transfer education, spoke before the Senate Early Learning Committee Monday on SB 5391. The bill would direct SBCTC, along with the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB), to select up to five colleges to develop and offer applied baccalaureate programs in education. The programs would need to lead to teacher certification and admit students no later than the fall 2016 academic term.

Hammer expressed the community and technical colleges system’s support for the bill.

“Though the timeline is tight, our colleges are well positioned in their communities and with their local school districts to do this work,” she said.


Coming up next week

Next week, legislators will hold hearings on SBCTC system request bills on corrections education, Basic Education for Adults and fee waivers for active duty members of the military.