Governor Inslee releases Working Washington budget priorities
Washington Dream Act gets hearing
Innovations work session
As another committee cut-off date approaches next week, legislators are focused on hearing bills and deciding whether or not they pass to the next committee. Bills impacting the community and technical college system continue to move through the Legislature as higher education issues remain a topic of conversation at the state Capitol.
The House Higher Education Committee held a hearing yesterday on SSB 5195 which expands State Need Grant (SNG) eligibility to Western Governors University (WGU) students. Currently, these students are not eligible to apply or receive SNG financial aid.
Former CTC and current WGU students testified in support of this bill with many citing access as a barrier to their higher education needs.
Jean Floten, WGU chancellor, said the bill is about accessibility for students at a university geared toward working adults. Floten, a former Bellevue College president, noted that the missions of WGU and CTCs are similar in that both have an open door policy to benefit any student wanting to earn a degree or certificate. WGU has 1,861 students that have transferred from the CTC system, a number that continues to grow (Washington Student Achievement Council).
Prime sponsor Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, said the bill is about equity and providing opportunities for all students wanting to further their careers. “[I consider this] truly to be a jobs bill, particularly for the more rural and geographically challenged parts of our state.”
The Senate Higher Education Committee held a public hearing yesterday on HB 1109 Tuesday that makes it easier for veterans entering higher education institutions.
Prime sponsor Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, testified to the importance of ensuring the state’s veterans have access to higher education opportunities. “[This bill] makes it easier for veterans to train for new careers by going back to school … We are winding down two wars at the same time we’ve been cutting higher education,” Hansen said.
Scott Copeland, SBCTC policy associate, testified in support, explaining how it will help veteran students be successful, “This is a great bill for [the CTC system] ... The earlier we can get veteran students — and sometimes their families — registered, enrolled, and ready to roll, then they can begin that process and not wait for book money, housing money, or tuition money to arrive on our college campuses.”
Others testifying in support of the bill included the Veterans Legislative Coalition and the Council of Presidents.
Yesterday, the Senate Higher Education Committee heard SHB 1247 that assists small businesses wanting to participate in the Job Skills Program by eliminating the dollar-for-dollar match currently required under state law.
Prime sponsor Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, explained how the bill would further assist businesses looking to train new and incumbent workers. “[This bill] makes it easier for small businesses to train their employees in partnership with the community colleges … it is a win-win … [it helps create] real transferrable skills and credentials,” Hansen said.
Anna Nikolaeva, SBCTC Job Skills Program administrator, testified in support of the bill and shared how current program guidelines disproportionately impacts small businesses. Nikolaeva shared, “[This bill] reduces financial requirements for small businesses and allows participation for small businesses in this program. The current dollar-for-dollar match simply prices small businesses out of this program.”
Mark Mitsui, North Seattle Community College president, shared how the Job Skills Program has led to increased economic growth in the community. “Economic development is a major focal area of our college. We believe we are here to help businesses and our local neighborhoods flourish … the return on investment [for the Jobs Skills Program] is pretty incredible. We think that if we can reach more small businesses in our area, we’re going to be able to serve more local residents and see some improvement for the entire area,” Mitsui testified.
Keith Zeiler, Vaupell general manager, testified in support of the bill, sharing Vaupell’s success after using the Job Skills Program to skill up its workforce. Vaupell manufactures thermoplastic and composite products for aircraft interiors, medical, and commercial markets. “This program works,” Zeiler said. “In the past two years I’ve hired 145 people … 250 employees have gone through 70,000 hours of Lean training which has led to productivity improvements … [Vaupell] could not have done any of this without the support of North Seattle Community College.”
The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program presented Walla Walla Community College with the award for Community College Excellence on March 19.
Along with co-awardee, Santa Barbara City College, WWCC was selected from more than 1,000 public community colleges nationwide and will receive $400,000 for program support.
This award is nationally recognized for high achievement and performance in the community college system. Higher education institutions are selected for outstanding achievement in degree completion, student job placement after college, and helping low-income students succeed.
Josh Wyner, Aspen Institute College Excellence Program executive director, celebrated WWCC’s community partnerships to better assist students entering the job market. “Walla Walla Community College’s visionary leaders stay on top of local economic job trends and job growth, and the entire college provides the kind of excellent training that students need to access well-paying jobs and that employers know will ensure future investments in the regional economy will pay off,” Wyner said.
The House Higher Education Committee voted the following bills out of committee:
· SSB 5195 – expanding State Need Grant to WGU students
· SB 5318 – removing one-year waiting period for veterans to be eligible for resident tuition
· 2SSB 5624 – aligning STEM programs with applied baccalaureate programs
· SB 5712 – encouraging CTCs to use multiple assessment measures
The Senate Higher Education Committee voted the following bills out of committee:
· HB 1109 – early registration for student veterans
· SHB 1247 – Job Skills Program
· SHB 1686 – changing ‘GED’ to ‘high school equivalency’ in statue
· SHB 1736 – increasing operating efficiencies in higher education institutions
"Flat is the new up when it comes to forecasts," said Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, lead budget writer for the House. "This forecast takes a bad problem and doesn't make it worse."
The Legislature is back in committee hearings this week and CTCs have been front and center. Topics discussed include multiple assessment and innovative curricula to help improve student outcomes, as well as diversity demographics on CTC campuses statewide.
Encouraging multiple measures for precollege course placement
The House Higher Education Committee on Tuesday heard testimony on Senate Bill 5712 from its prime sponsor Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle.
The bill requires the SBCTC to:
● Encourage colleges to use multiple measures to determine whether a student must enroll in a pre-college course including, but not limited to, placement tests, the SAT, high school transcripts, college transcripts, or initial class performance. Also requires colleges to post all available options for course placement on websites and admissions materials.
● Direct colleges to include information in admissions materials and websites promoting the different ways students can be assessed for placement into classes.
Kohl-Welles expressed long-standing concern about remediation at the post-secondary level, especially at the CTCs, and said, "Some students could benefit from a brush-up rather than spending a lot of time and tuition."
She described innovations underway for placing students into appropriate courses so they can progress into regular college-level programs:
● Self-paced classes or tutoring to allow students to show proficiency and move on.
● Students take pre-college courses tailored to their needs rather than several classes.
● Pre-college math integrated along with science
● Multiple measures to determine student placement in coursework, such as high school transcripts or SAT scores.
Kohl-Welles highlighted the recent visit by representatives of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to community and technical colleges to hear their success stories and challenges in preparing students for college-level work:
• Everett Community College, where streamlined, self-paced math classes allow students to complete their studies faster. Free study sessions, facilitated by a trained tutor, boost the average participant's grade by one letter. The college also offers math-placement testing at some high schools so students discover whether they're prepared for college math and are encouraged to continue their studies.
• Lake Washington Institute of Technology, which offers programs that allow students to move through multiple levels of pre-college English and math courses simultaneously, saving months to years of schooling and associated tuition. The accelerated math program enjoys a 93 percent success rate.
• Lower Columbia College, where new pre-college English students study together in the same class, progress and earn credits at their own pace, and then move into the next level without having to go through a step-by-step sequence. The college also offers Integrated Transitional Studies (I-TRANS), which allows students to achieve more than one level of English or math in a single quarter.
• North Seattle Community College students move through pre-college classes quickly -- and check off some of their college prerequisites -- by taking classes that combine pre-college English with English 101 and pre-college math with science. Many of the pre-college math courses are designed to take two quarters instead of three. In bi-weekly "Reflection Fridays," math and English faculty review students' progress and identify ways to help them succeed.
• Tacoma Community College, where STEM students can take a specially designed pre-college math course that offers an introduction to pre-calculus rather than intermediate algebra. The college also offers "Statway," a two-quarter class for liberal arts and social science majors that fulfills the college-level math requirement and focuses on statistics, considered to be most relevant for many career choices.
Pre-college courses (also referred to as remedial or developmental education) allow people to brush up on English and math skills so they can enroll in college-level courses and earn certificates and degrees. Students in these classes have either been out of school for several years and need a refresher on high school-level math or English, or they recently graduated from high school but are not up to college-level coursework.
Twenty-three percent of all four-year university graduates in Washington took at least one pre-college class, usually in math. At Washington community and technical colleges, pre-college students make up 10 percent of all state-supported enrollments, more than half of whom have been out of high school for at least three years.
CTCs serve students of color
During the same hearing, members of the House Higher Education Committee heard how community and technical colleges are helping students of color succeed.
Edward Esparza, SBCTC student services policy associate, testified about the important role CTCs play in educating this student population and shared data to that effect. "Community colleges are a major gateway for students of color in Washington to obtain a college education. It bodes true with the college mission, the State Board mission, to serve all that enter its doors."
Dr. Jeff Wagnitz, Highline Community College vice president for academic affairs, shared how Highline successfully modified programs to better prepare students in reaching educational goals. "[Highline Community College] did a fair number of focus groups and classroom conversations ... [students] had work to do before getting to [their] first general education or workforce course. It was creating pretty significant barriers."
Jason Latimer, Bates Technical College student, testified about how his positive experience at the Students of Color Conference led him to further participation in similar programs at Bates. Latimer is pursuing a facility maintenance engineering degree at Bates and a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) degree at Clover Park Technical College.
BophaPhuong Keo, Highline Community College student, testified that language was a significant barrier. Originally from Cambodia, Keo began her higher education degree track with ESL classes, successfully obtaining a scholarship. Next spring, Keo will graduate with an associate of science transfer degree.
Iryna Stakhov, Highline Community College student, testified that the Highline Transition Center helped her make a smooth transition from ESL classes to setting career goals. Originally from Ukraine, Stakhov's ESL classes helped her overcome a language barrier, apply for financial aid, and successfully participate in a Work Study program. Stakhov is pursuing an advanced degree in visual communications.
Regulatory relief bill heard
On Tuesday, the Senate Higher Education Committee heard House Bill 1736, concerning higher education operating efficiencies.
Prime sponsor Rep. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, described the administrative burden faced by colleges and universities required to submit duplicative federal and state reports.
Both bills would impact several practices in higher education and state agencies:
● Requires OFM to work with other state agencies on a comprehensive review of reporting requirements related to energy code building standards and greenhouse gas emissions, and make recommendations for coordinating and streamlining.
● Allow state colleges and universities to use or accept electronic signatures for human resource, benefits, or payroll processes that require a signature.
● Authorize the Student Achievement Council to enter into reciprocity agreements for online education with other states on behalf of Washington's public colleges and universities.
Barbara McCullough, Grays Harbor College vice president of administrative services, said their campus sustainability efforts are a priority and supports the need to reduce greenhouse gases. Facilities staff has been reduced during budget cuts, so the bill would bring welcomed streamlining.
Julie Murray, Office of Financial Management, requested the deadline for recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature's higher education committees be extended to 2014, instead of December 1, 2013. She said other public entities are also required to submit the same greenhouse gas and energy standards reports and suggested expanding the bill to include them.
Connie Broughton, SBCTC eLearning and open education coordinator, testified in support and said allowing the Student Achievement Council to work on behalf of Washington colleges and universities will reduce redundant administrative work for individual schools.
Presently, each college must enter into an agreement with each state — even if only one student from that state is enrolled — who wants to take one of their on-line courses. This one-to-one arrangement creates a lot of workload for relatively few students at a college. She cited the example of Pierce College's many military students, enrolled in courses in 46 different states.
Margaret Shepard, University of Washington director of state relations, spoke in favor of the bill on behalf of the Council of Presidents.
Its companion Senate Bill 5736 passed and awaits floor action.
Preview of next edition
The Friday edition of Legislative News will include a summary of additional committee action, details of the State Revenue Forecast, and other events impacting community and technical colleges.
With another significant cutoff date in the rearview mirror, the Legislature has further narrowed the number of bills left to be considered this session. After Wednesday’s 5 p.m. House of Origin deadline, many bills impacting CTCs are still left standing.
2SSB 5624 creates a high school-to-community and technical college STEM pathway by requiring the further development of STEM-specific applied baccalaureate programs, subject to available funding. Prime sponsor Senator Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, spoke in favor of the bill and the value of CTCs in expanding high-demand STEM degree programs.
“This really creates a pathway from K-12 into our community and technical colleges in the high-demand fields of STEM. It also is an opportunity for our students to go into the STEM fields at the tuition rate of a community and technical college and to…become skilled in the high-demand jobs that are out there today. There are community and technical colleges who have definitely contributed to this STEM career and that is Bellevue College, Centralia College, Columbia Basin, Lake Washington Institute of Technology, Olympic College, Peninsula, Seattle Central Community [College] and South Seattle Community College,” McAuliffe said.
Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, Senate Higher Education chair, also spoke in favor of the bill. “For quite some time, we’ve been trying to do everything that we can to stimulate the STEM programs in our community colleges and our baccalaureate degrees. We also in this bill begin to look more closely at what’s going on in our high schools and hopefully be able to make sure that there is the connection that is needed between our high schools, K-12 and CTCs as well as our 4-year universities in the STEM program[s],” Bailey said.
2SSB 5624 passed the Senate 48-1.
A number of bills related to the State Need Grant program have been introduced this session. Those passing cutoff include ESHB 1817, providing eligibility for undocumented immigrant students and SSB 5195 that expands eligibility for students at certain nonprofit institutions.
ESHB 1817 passed the House 77-20 (1 excused) and SB 5195 passed the Senate 47-2.
Students with a military background have support from both the House and Senate this session. SB 5318 removes the one-year waiting period for veterans or active military members to be eligible for resident tuition. SHB 1858 requires that higher education institutions adopt a policy awarding academic credit for prior military service. HB 1109 requires colleges to have a process by the 2013-14 academic year to offer early registration for eligible students who are veterans or National Guard members.
SB 5318 passed the Senate 48-0 (1 excused), referred to House Higher Education. SHB 1858 passed the House 97-0 (1 excused). HB 1109 passed the House 98-0.
· HB 1043 – eliminating differential tuition. Passed the House 95-1 (2 excused), referred to Senate Higher Education.
· ESHB 1247 – eliminating the dollar for dollar match for small businesses participating in the Job Skills Program. Passed the House 98-0, referred to Senate Higher Education.
· HB 1348 – requires increments for faculty as negotiated in local agreements. Passed the House 61-36 (1 excused), referred to Senate Commerce and Labor.
· SHB 1472 – expands access to computer science education. Passed the House 95-3, referred to Early Learning and K-12 Education.
· SHB 1536 – requires one business and labor representative on boards of trustees. Passed the House 58-40, referred to Senate Higher Education.
· SHB 1686 – replaces “general equivalency diploma” with “high school equivalency” to provide flexibility in test options. Passed the House 98-0, scheduled for a hearing in Senate Higher Education March 21.
· HB 1736 – providing operating efficiencies. Passed the House 98-0, scheduled for a hearing in Senate Higher Education March 19.
· ESHB 1769 – providing capital efficiencies. Passed the House 97-1, referred to Senate Ways and Means.
· SHB 1843 – monitoring and evaluating compliance of financial aid program rules. Passed the House 93-4 (1 excused), referred to Senate Higher Education.
· ESHB 1872 – Governor-request STEM education. Passed the House 58-40, scheduled for a hearing in Senate Early Learning and K-12 March 20. Companion SSB 5755 passed the Senate 48-0 (1 excused), scheduled for a hearing in House Education March 22.
· HCR 4403 – resolution adopting the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board’s strategic plan for state workforce development. Passed the House 91-6 (1 excused), referred to Senate Higher Education.
· SSB 5180 – creates a taskforce to improve higher education access for students with disabilities. Passed the Senate 49-0, received a public hearing in House Higher Education March 12.
SB 5712 – encourages colleges to use multiple student assessment tools. Passed the Senate 49-0, scheduled for a hearing in House Higher Education March 19.
· SSB 5774 – allows a permit for alcohol tasting for adults under age 21. Passed the Senate 42-7, scheduled for a hearing in House Government Accountability and Oversight March 21.
Earlier this week, Governor Inslee announced $18 million in grant funding for projects at 12 higher education institutions and 37 local governments, creating more than 500 construction jobs.
Energy Efficiency Program Grants were awarded through a competitive process and are used for cost saving energy improvements. Last year, the Legislature appropriated $20 million to higher education with two rounds of awards.
Among the first recipients announced in August 2012 was the Community Colleges of Spokane that installed a control system in two buildings to maximize energy efficiency. The new control system is expected to save approximately $12,000 annually. “The new controls make the buildings more comfortable for everyone. The energy savings are reinvested right back into other energy efficiency projects. We are marching through the campus buildings one at a time and making them more energy efficient. This grant gave us a good start,” said Dennis Dunham, director of facilities.
Round two grant recipients include the following community and technical colleges:
· Big Bend Community College ($472,032)
· Community Colleges of Spokane ($80,000)
· Green River Community College ($453,000)
· Highline Community College ($196,877)
· Olympic College ($1,025,000)
· Pierce College ($825,000)
· Shoreline Community College ($349,643)
· Yakima Valley Community College ($503,000)
Gov. Inslee supports the Energy Efficiency Grant Program and sees it as an important step in strengthening the state’s economy. “This is precisely the sort of program we need as we work to rebuild our economy,” Inslee said. “These grants will reduce energy costs, provide training opportunities to students and create jobs in the clean energy sector.”
A recent College Promise Coalition poll shows Washington State citizens overwhelming approve of the state’s higher education performance. Out of the 600 voters polled in February of this year, results include:
· People feel personally tied to Washington’s higher education system.
· Voters know there is a problem in higher education funding, and recognize the connection between higher education and economic development.
· Financial aid is important, including the College Bound and Guaranteed Education Tuition Programs.
· Additional funding is needed for state colleges and universities.
Founded in 2011, the College Promise Coalition is a partnership between Washington’s colleges and universities with other stakeholders to ensure access to affordable, quality education for students across the state.
Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor), chair of House Higher Education is hosting a legislative web discussion on Monday, March 18 from noon to 1.pm. Seaquist will discuss higher education issues and answer questions from students, faculty, administrators, and others interested in participating.
Hosted on the House Democratic Caucus website, participants can submit their email address to receive an event reminder.
Next week’s edition of Legislative News will include a summary of committee action and details of the March 20 State Revenue Forecast, an important milestone for legislators writing this year’s state budget. Stay tuned!